St. Louis, MO
Angel saw a commercial, or something.
Adam said he'd join us since it was not far from his bunker , across the mighty Meramec river in South St. Louis County.
A couple of months ago, during the hunt for a decent fish sandwich, Angel would often bring up Popeye's 'squished fish patty on a bun' commercial comparing (wink, wink) a 'certain' fast food chain's square fish patty (McDonalds) as 'seafood' to Popeye's 'Butterfly Shrimp Tackle Box.'
"I like my squished fish patty on a bun!" she repeated, probably a hundred times.
She was not looking for seafood at Popeye's though, she wanted to try the chicken. I told her I'd take yet another one for the team and get something fishy.
This location is fairly new. It was clean and sparkly inside, in the way only polished plastic can sparkle. The motif, fast food modern. There was not any attempt to make it look like anything other than fast food.
Angel and I already studied the online menu and were pretty set in our order, Adam was starting from scratch. Finally we ordered, Angel first. My turn came, I was prepared. "Fish and shrimp combo with coleslaw and a small drink."
The young man repeated back. "Fish and shrimp combo?"
"What side with that sir?"
"What size drink would you like with that?"
We filled our drink cups, I found us a shiny plastic covered table.
I sipped my tea. I quickly looked around for an alternative drink. The tea was old, metallic and bitter.
Nothing. I don't like sweet drinks, period, other than juices. You didn't know that about me?
We sat waiting, I looked around as I am wont to do during eatery reviews. Six tables occupied, three people waiting for take out / pick up.
After five or eight minutes of note taking and analysis, I looked around again. Six tables occupied, three people waiting for take out / pick up.
None of them had food.
More people came in and ordered and waited.
Something was wrong in the kitchen. Orders were backed up, all of them, no food going out at all, for nearly twenty minutes.
Probably out of cooked chicken, since that seems to be the flagship of the brand.
A twenty minute wait at a sit down, waited on at the table restaurant is no big deal. At a fast food joint, it's an eternity.
Finally we were served.
It was a really brown meal. At first we couldn't tell the orders apart. I figured out mine because of the popcorn shrimp.
Angel: Mild chicken and coleslaw.
Adam: Spicy chicken tenders and mashed potatoes.
We also ordered a couple of the apple pie for later.
All orders come with their 'signature' buttermilk biscuit.
We noticed something immediately. There was no coleslaw.
A lady from the counter stopped and asked about sauces. We mentioned the missing sides, she apologized and disappeared, only to return a moment later with the slaw.
She asked again about sauces. I looked around. "Tarter sauce please."
She asked Adam and Angel as well, they declined.
A couple of moments later, she came back with a couple of condiment packets in her hand. "Which sauce did you ask for again?"
"Tartar sauce please."
She looked at the packets, turned around and walked away.
She soon came back with the right stuff.
That's it. If you look at the photo, you'll see three small, rectangular objects, that's the fish. The fillets were about a quarter inch thick, probably less. Broken apart it would all fit into one cube of an ice tray.
Easily half the portion, if that much, of that pathetic squished fish patty on a bun at that other fast food restaurant.
It was also tough, rubbery and dry. So thin that it overcooked browning the breading. The majority of the real estate in the basket was occupied by popcorn shrimp. Also overcooked and so heavily battered that the shrimp inside was little more than a condiment. I disassembled one to measure the breading vs. shrimp ratio.
|Shrimp on the left, breading on the right.|
The biscuit looked right, too right, as if it had been made by a robot. Too round, too flat surfaced on top and bottom. I looked around, all over the place and could find no butter being offered, I decided to go ahead, commando style.
Ah, they had buttered the top. . . not the middle, mind you, the top, then added salt to make it seem like there was more butter than there was. The effect was a dry, too salty biscuit. Even Adam picked up on that butter/salt trick.
About a tiny fillet and a half of fish, three bites of biscuit, and three fried flour nuggets, I tossed the rest away. I had about half the coleslaw, nothing special there, creamy, sweet, with an odd hint of some herb, dill, cilantro, something Angel couldn't quite describe it either, a little off putting, whatever it was.
Adam complained about the mashed potatoes. Apparently Popeye's claims a Louisiana spiced mashed potato. To Adam, this was sacrilege. Mashed potatoes aren't supposed to be spicy. "Mashed potatoes are already southern, why do they have to mess with that?" He screamed.
Angel rather enjoyed her chicken, it had a touch of spiciness without getting silly.
I'd rather eat Guy Fieri's lightly seasoned flip flop.
Like I said, Angel liked the chicken okay, the sides, not at all. Adam was at best, 'meh' about his. The consensus was that we could not think of any reason to ever go back. Better stuff is readily available, just about anywhere.