It’s time once again for “I tried it so you don’t have to” theatre here on the blog, this time starring Wendy’s new Flatbread Grilled Chicken Sandwich. I’m pleased to report, however, that the second part of that intro isn’t actually necessary: the new fast-food concoction in this case is really quite good.
The new sandwich went on sale in North America on Mar. 26 and is sticking around for a limited time, until the end of May. Wendy’s is actually offering up two options: the Asiago Ranch features grilled white meat chicken, spring mix, tomatoes, Asiago cheese, bacon and a creamy ranch sauce. The Smoky Honey Mustard is the same, but without the bacon and with – naturally – a honey mustard sauce. Both come in a toasted five-grain flatbread.
Me likey the ranch sauce, as well as bacon in general, so I of course opted for the Asiago option. My first impression upon seeing it in its wrapper was that it was a little smaller than I expected. In a society that’s struggling with obesity levels, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I thought, hmm, a decent-sized meal for a change – that’s good!
Once unwrapped, I was also surprised that the sandwich (pictured above) didn’t look too dissimilar from its glam shots. It was a little messy thanks to some dripping sauce, but it was otherwise heartening to see that Wendy’s hadn’t taken too many liberties in its marketing.
My major concern before biting into the sandwich was with the grilled chicken. In a recent Reddit thread, fast-food workers pointed out how nasty such food items tend to be at chains, which only served to confirm my previous experiences. I’ve become pretty wary of grilled chicken, not so much because of how it’s generally prepared, but also because it tends to get screwed up. There’s usually something offputting in the texture that bugs me; indeed, I ordered a chicken snack wrap from McDonald’s not too long ago and, when the staff messed up the order and gave me grilled chicken instead of crispy, I ended up throwing it out after just one bite.
I’m not sure what Wendy’s has done differently here, but the chicken in the flatbread sandwich was just fine. It didn’t have that rubbery/plasticky consistency that’s all too common with grilled fast-food chicken; it tasted as the real thing should. That was a big hurdle to get over; once past it, I was able to appraise the sandwich on its other merits.
And it does have some. The flatbread itself was surprisingly fresh and even had a little flash to it – you can actually taste the flax seeds. The bacon was also pretty tasty; not your usual dried-out, cardboard-like offering.
Of course, all of the ingredients were somewhat subservient to the ranch sauce. While it wasn’t entirely overpowering, it definitely was the most noticeable flavour in the whole sandwich, and I suspect it may have masked some of the other ingredients’ shortcomings to the extent that I didn’t notice them.
Wendy’s is pushing the flatbread sandwiches as a healthier alternative. While they certainly can’t be considered health food, they are better for you than the chain’s burgers and other fare. The Asiago sandwich packs 530 calories, compared to 590 for a hamburger, 31 grams of fat (compared to 33) and 920 milligrams of sodium (compared to 1,170). The Honey Mustard version is even better than that, at 370 calories, 15 grams of fat and 530 milligrams of sodium.
I’d certainly try the sandwiches again, if only to find out if my surprising chicken experience was a one-time lucky break or whether Wendy’s has actually figured out how to decently grill the meat. I’d also ask the assemblers to go easy on the sauce, so I can get a better sense of the sandwich as a whole. Eliminating the sauce entirely cuts out more than 100 calories, but I wouldn’t go that far. Like I said, me likey the ranch, even if it isn’t exactly good for me.