It seems like the biggest names in fast food have something new up their sleeve every week. This week, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell are releasing or returning fan favorite items. Sometimes the items are tweaks on the traditional, like the Smoky Quarter Pounder with Cheese, other times they’re old favorites that everyone knows will return, like the Mexican Pizza. But are they ever worth it? When Wendy’s decided to release four all-new limited time items with such delicious twists this week, I had to try them.
The chain’s two new sandwiches, which debuted yesterday, are riffs on its classics. The Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich and Italian Mozzarella Burger are like the originals with an irresistible Italian twist. Both have marinara, mozzarella cheese and a special fried mozzarella patty between the egg white and garlic bun. Special Garlic Fries and a brand new Peppermint Frosty joined the release.
I tasted the new menu items and here they are ranked from my least favorite to the best, and there was one thing I would get again in a heartbeat.
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Italian mozzarella burger
The look: In appearance, the burger was a bit dwarfed by the large herb-studded garlic bun. It just wasn’t as appealing as the chicken sandwich. I couldn’t take the mozzarella and marinara sauce as a hint of things to come, while the chicken sandwich had a huge chicken breast with melted mozzarella sticking out the side.
The taste: I missed the mozzarella patty on the first bite – which I was most looking forward to – but the square Wendy’s burger was good, meaty and flavorful, with a nice texture. The marinara sauce didn’t overpower the flavor of the meat and the mozzarella was a bit muted as well. The garlic knot bun had a remarkable flavor and was not too soft or too firm. On the second bite, I got some cheesy fried mozzarella and more marinara. I couldn’t detect much Italian seasoning, I think the taste of the burger overpowered them.
The look: The shake was a nice light pink shade and super creamy. I’d never had a Frosty before, so I guess most Wendy’s fans know these things are super thick. The Frosty was so thick it was hard to drink through a straw so I grabbed a spoon which wasn’t a bad thing at all.
The taste: If you’re a real peppermint fan, you might miss little bits of candy floating in the drink, but I didn’t. It was vanilla and subtle peppermint that doesn’t burn the palate, it was refreshing but rich at the same time. I liked the Frosty way more than a McDonald’s shake. It tasted less sweet and more balanced.
The look: The fries came in a special container so they wouldn’t get crushed, which already made them seem more special than the chain’s other fries. At the bottom of the container was a small layer of garlic-herb oil in which you could drip the fries.
The taste: The fries remained subtly crispy on the outside with a nice potato flavor on the inside. The garlic was not overdone and had a few specks of green herbs. The good news is that you probably won’t smell like garlic all day after this.
These fries are really made to look more like restaurant fries than fast food fries, and I think that’s the only problem. Some people want the classics when they get fast food. They don’t want their fries in a fancy container, they want to be able to eat them with one hand while driving. That said the taste was great and this is definitely a step above fast food fries.
Keep in mind that this order of fries with its extra garlic oil contains 470 calories, the same as Wendy’s large fries.
Italian mozzarella chicken sandwich
The look: My first thought was that this chicken sandwich is huge. It was so big it was hard to bite. The garlic bun looked inviting and, as I mentioned above, the chicken and mozzarella peeked out just enough to grab your attention. The chicken looked crispy and golden brown. I couldn’t wait to take a bite of this.
The taste: The tomato sauce was spicy, if a little too sour, but the cheese and chicken add a nice salty-creamy counterpoint. The first bite didn’t give me the cheese hit I wanted from the fried mozzarella, but the second did. As I continued to chew, I tasted Italian herbs and garlic. The marinara didn’t squirt out of the sandwich, it was just the right amount, which is good for people who eat it on the go. I’m guessing the middle super-thin layer of mozzarella was some kind of glue, because with the super-thick mozzarella patty, you really didn’t need it. When I got to the middle, the flavors melded with more sauce mixing with creamy cheese.
This is a filling beast of a sandwich with some very high quality touches that, like the fries, make it seem fast from a typical fast food offering. Honestly, all I needed was a mixed green salad and balsamic on the side, because the Garlic Fries would have been way too much food – and way too many calories, since the chicken sandwich alone has 780.
The star of the show was without a doubt the fried mozzarella. Fast food restaurants should add a fried mozzarella sandwich for the vegetarians of the world. This is a great alternative to toasted sandwiches, even if it’s not exactly the healthiest in the world.
The final verdict
Overall, these items did not look or taste like typical fast food items, they seemed to be higher quality and made with care. The caveat is that the person making them that day was trained to make them correctly, so the presentation could change in a few weeks.
While everything was good, it’s clear there’s one item I’d go back for in particular: the chicken parmesan sandwich. A few bites of the garlic oil slicked fries were enough and the Frosty, while delicious, was too much on a bun. If you’re less adventurous, the burger is the way to go, as you still get the delicious mozzarella patty, but less competing flavors. In my opinion, chicken, sauce, and cheese are just friendlier than beef, sauce, and mozzarella.