Sunday, May 29, 2005

Perfect Tommy and the perfect chicken sandwich

I'm starting to think that I should've named this blog "Seven Kinds of Soy Sauce and Jersey Fast Food." It's these birding trips. The actual trips are one part nature study, one part performance art, one part reality tv, one part Talmudic debate, one part kitsch appreciation... Perfect Tommy is really the one who should have a blog for all his rants, non sequiturs, Proustian reminiscences and restaurant reviews, but he prefers delivering his stream-of-consciousness ramblings to The Lurker and me. I can't possibly do justice to them.

Chick-fil-A is a southern-based fast food chain that has a bit of a presence in New Jersey. The Lurker, whose thing is fast-food chicken sandwiches, has been raving about them for some time, but every time we drove past the one on Rt. 130 in Hamilton, it was closed. Finally, the stars were aligned correctly yesterday and we were able to stop there for dinner.

Both Perfect Tommy and I had the basic sandwich, which is a fried piece of chicken breast on a buttered bun with two pickles. The chicken was pressure-cooked and moist, the breading was not too hard and not too soft. It was not excessively spicy, just nice and simple. The butter added a bit of decadence, while the pickles gave a complementary sour note (uh oh, this is sounding like a wine description). Another thing the chicken was not was greasy. All in all, it was a tasty chicken sandwich, a step up from what I expect at a fast food place. Oh, yeah, the waffle fries were generous, potatoey and also not greasy.

Judging from the "wow"s emanating from Perfect Tommy's end of the table, he was having another food religious experience. When questioned whether this was better than Krispy Kreme, he immediately said no, it wasn't. He said that the Krispy Kreme experience was transcendental, while Chick-fil-A gave a more earth-bound sense of well-being. The Lurker and I were just grateful for some sense of well-being, since Perfect Tommy's mood had gone sour ever since we had spotted a Pizza Hut Italian Bistro in south Jersey earlier that afternoon. This is apparently Pizza Hut's attempt to go upscale, complete with more subtly-colored buildings, but Perfect Tommy was incensed by the pairing of "Italian" and "bistro," since "bistro" is of course French. This whole episode linked back to a previous trip's rant about Olive Garden and real Italian food, but I'll spare you that for now. Then again, you can probably find similar rants in cyberspace anyway.

While two-thirds of the table were appreciating their chicken sandwiches, The Lurker was inhaling his chicken strips with "Polynesian sauce." "Polynesian sauce" is a takeoff on sweet-and-sour sauce, but with most of the sour removed. The result is sort of a tomato-fruit blend with what seems to be just a touch of something like cayenne. I've never been a big fan of sweet-and-sour dishes, but this sauce was more down my alley.

So that was Chick-fil-A, finally. It goes into the register as another fast-food place worth stopping at, if the opportunity arises.

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