It could have been the best melding of Louisiana and West Coast flava since Karl Malone signed with the Lakers: chicken and waffles, made with amazing Popeyes chicken dipped in breakfast batter and served with a side of honey-maple sauce. I was sold by the simple description, and even more excited when the drive-thru clerk in Portland responded "Oh my god, yes" when I asked if they were good. And at $5 for three whopping waffle wonders with a biscuit and fries, it appeared I had found my new favorite food group. Sadly, I had not.
Biting into Popeyes' beautiful, beguiling Chicken Waffle Tenders: the taste-test
The initial promise of a hand-held version of chicken & waffles wonder percolated hopes of a nostalgic flavor odyssey reminiscent of the old-school French toast stick -- that weirdly delicious school lunch staple that you couldn't resist, despite it tasting like neither toast nor France. Take that idea, then stuff it with juicy Popeyes chicken, and you've got an instant winner. Right?
As luck would have it, it doesn't taste like a waffle at all... neither Eggo nor cone. In fact, the waffle batter has the consistency of Popeyes' regular batter, but minus any hint of spice. It tastes more like mildly sweet flour coating on a juicy piece of chicken -- perfectly crunchy and moist, but also depressingly bland.
Of course, a lot of that flavor's gonna come from the sauce... but even calling it sauce might be a little generous. As would be the use of the words "honey" and "maple" in the description of this paste-like goop that has the consistency of marmalade wallpaper paste and the flavor of Bit-O-Honey left on your dash for two days in the Summer.
The sauce's consistency barely changes when introduced to a piping-hot tender. In fact, it remains oddly solid, resembling something from Ghostbusters or a Mucinex commercial more than something I want to dip my delicious, delicious Popeyes chicken into. But hey, maybe the flavors will combine into a symphony of awesome.
So what does it taste like? Disappointment. And usually when I'm sad or disappointed, I like to eat to compensate. Yet there are two more chicken tenders in this box that look deceptively like the delicious Popeyes I love, but taste like sad. I don't even want to eat them. I just want to drown the sad away... time to head back to Popeyes for a six-piece of spicy Bonafide-recipe chicken. Hold the sweet mucus sauce.