Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Eating on the Hill: A&W's not so hot Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

The newest chicken craze is Nashville Hot Chicken, and A&W is out of the gates early with the first fast food version, available now for a limited time: the A&W Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich.

 I've already written at length about the chicken sandwich wars; Popeye's is the undisputed winner and I stand by that. Especially if you can get it freshly made; then it's transcendent. But in the next tier down of your basic fast good chicken sammies, A&W's Chubby Chicken stands out from the pack for being a juicy, decently sized, well-seasoned breast of chicken.

I've been coming back into the office lately now that I'm fully vaxed and local case numbers are down, and an A&W opened up just off the Hill during the pandemic (O'Connor and Sparks, between Winners and the LRT). So I'm locally lunching again, and had to try their Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich.

I ordered on the app so I could just walk in and pick it up, and the app makes it easier to customize too. It comes standard with the hot sauce and pickles. I dropped the pickets and added lettuce and tomato, so I still had my veg. A&W does a good job of the veg for a fast food place.

Dine-in is still closed and it was a sunny day, so I took my bag and retired to an outdoor table on Sparks Street to enjoy the weather and dine al-fresco. 

I haven't had a lot of Nashville Hot Chicken but I'm familiar with the concept. The legend is that a woman, in Nashville of course, tired of her husband's philandering and desirous of revenge, made him fried chicken and smothered it with the spiciest sauce she could concoct, hoping to repay the pain she caused him. Instead, he loved it. In the commercial application pain isn't the goad, but chicken coated in a spicy sauce is still the basic idea.

This...was not that. It was a standard chicken breast, with some sauce on the top bun and some sauce on the top bun. Not coated in it at all. And the sauce wasn't particularly hot and wasn't particularly good. It had a weird taste, maybe a bit tangy, but I wasn't really getting spicy from it. They call it a hot Nashville aioli. So, I guess mayo and some sort of hot sauce. A brioche bun, because that's on trend but doesn't really mean anything in wide practice.

So I walked back to the office full but not impressed. If you want Nashville Hot Chicken, go somewhere else doing it right. If you're going to A&W anyway though and you want a chicken sandwich, give it a try.

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