Steppin’ Out – Hodgepodge (Burger King, KFC, A&W)

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Every few weeks one or another of the “fast food” (some are slower than others) restaurants comes up with something new. For a while it was, “I can add more bacon than you,” and then “I can make my burger spicier than yours.”

Recently, they have been trying to “out cheap” each other with “4 for $4,” “4 for $5,” etc., giving you a burger, chicken sandwich or nuggets, fries and a small drink for the same price as their regular burger.

I tried the one most local, the “4 for $5″ combo at Carl’s Jr., and it was okay. The burger was a two patty, two pickle sandwich, the chicken sandwich was pretty bland, but the fries were good and I always order a small drink anyway, because when you eat-in, you can refill it as many times as you like. That, folks, is a money saver.

Burger King recently sent out an email announcing something new (actually they had hot dogs before), grilled hot dogs: a Classic Grilled Dog and a Chili Cheese Grilled Dog. I forwarded the announcement to my friend Russ Salazar and we decided to drive to the far end of Iron Point Road in Folsom (our nearest Burger King) and try them. By the way, it is rumored that our WalMart will be getting a Burger King inside where Blimpie’s was located.

We ordered the two dogs and a small order of Jalapeño Chicken Fries, which are strips of chicken, breaded with a jalapeno mixture. I had tried them before, but Russ had not. We also ordered two small, 16 oz. drinks from the “Dollar Menu.” The nice lady at the register only charged us 49 cents each for the drinks because we are seniors, to which Russ said, “How did she know we were seniors? She didn’t asks us.” As usual, I didn’t answer that eternal question.

The chili dog was very good. The chili was good and the grilled dog was too. The Classic dog was a different story. Russ thought it should be called the relish dog, since it had more relish than anything else. Their picture shows it with lines of mustard and catsup on top (catsup on a hot dog? I thought that was against the law after you turned 16) but those were covered up by the relish. It was good, once you got rid of some of the relish.

I had been to this same Burger King before and they needed some additional training, the owner told me. I think that would still be a good idea.

The Jalapeño Chicken Fries were okay. They were lukewarm, and had probably been reheated. They had a bit of spiciness which we both liked. I think they were supposed to come with a dipping sauce, but catchup was good enough. I always forget to order dipping sauce anyway.

Since we hadn’t consumed that much food (we split everything), we decided to wait a bit and then stop by the KFC near Sam’s Club in Folsom (Bidwell St. end of Iron Point Road) and try the new Nashville Hot Chicken.

This KFC is also an A&W, so we decided to also try one of their chili dogs along with the chicken.

The place was in a bit of chaos because their router was not working and they couldn’t take credit cards. They rebooted their system and finally, everything was working (we thought).

We asked the cashier for the cheapest way to sample the new flavored chicken and he told us to order the three Nashville Tenders, which came only in “Extra Crispy.” He asked if we wanted the combo, to which we said no, and then we added an A&W chili dog, without cheese and with just a few onions (Russ doesn’t like anything on his chili when he wants to judge it).

While we were ordering the register failed and they had to move to the other one. Electronically, they were having a bad day.

When our order came we started with the chili dog. The chili was good, but the dog was way too salty. We were disappointed in it.

The Nashville Chicken Tenders were tender, crunchy and nice and spicy, but oily. We first noticed that when the napkins we placed them on became so oily that it immediately soaked through to the table.

I picked up the plastic container they came in and tipped it. At least two tablespoons (one ounce) of oil gathered in the corner, and that was just the run-off. The nutrition guide says the three have 20 grams of fat. I don’t think they count the nearly 30 grams of excess oil. I hope this is just a local issue with that store, because I would like to try them again.

We had another issue with the food, the price. For some reason by ordering the tenders without the combo (biscuit and cole slaw) they cost nearly a dollar more.

Russ took the receipt back to them and ended up getting the biscuit and cole slaw from the cashier. The manager, who I understand was under a bit of pressure do to the electronic failures, was way too condescending for someone in a service industry and ungraciously returned the difference in price. I think from now on we will stay local for our KFC, although it was nice to have and A&W to patronize.

I mentioned this to a friend I walk with in the morning. He had tried the Nashville Tenders too, and they were way too oily. He also added something I had noticed, but not commented about. The containers that KFC uses are such thick plastic that some people reuse them at home. However, most end up in the trash. In this day and age KFC really doesn’t need to use that much plastic!

I rarely make so many adverse comments about one restaurant, but I immediately contacted KFC about the chicken, the oil, the pricing and the ungraciousness of the manager and received no response at all.

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