Under Channel Eats

Under Channel Eats: Arby’s Smoke Mountain Sandwich and Pumpkin Cheesecake Shake

Arby’s holds a special place in my heart. Long before I found the gospel known as Taco Bell, Arby’s was my sanctuary. It was different. McDonald’s (Chicken Nuggets) and Wendy’s (Chicken Nuggets) were good, but Burger King was a disgusting memory of my early working life. Arby’s however provided a refuge from the processed chicken and beef. Eating Arby’s felt like I was eating real food. Early on my buddy Kenny and I fell head first into the 5 for $5.95 deal. Traditionally we’d both go with 5 orders of the mozzarella sticks and gorge until we could feel goiters starting to form in our throats.

Nowadays Arby’s is a fond memory, somewhere I smile at remembering the good ole days on my way to Taco Bell. If not for the Sliders they added last year I’m not sure anything would’ve pulled me back in. While searching for my item to review this week I just kept driving past my Arby’s which had their sign out front promoting their new Smokehouse Menu. Finally I made the decision and went for it.

Initially I was going for the Pork Belly Sandwich. Pork Belly is one of the few items I grab whenever I see it on a menu (along with poutine). I knew it came with mayo and specifically asked for my sandwich without when I ordered. The girl through the speaker replied, that the Pork Belly didn’t come with mayo but instead it was a White BBQ sauce. I was ecstatic.

I searched around the menu board for some companion items and that’s when I noticed the Pumpkin Cheesecake Shake. I’m a sucker for those traditional seasonal flavors and convinced myself its been far too long since I had a milkshake. I happily drove back home, eagerly anticipating my meal. This would be the first item I gave a good review here on Under Channel Eats.

After unpacking my meal I learned to great dismay, that the Pork Belly Sandwich did indeed have mayo. I sadly packed back into my car, drove back to Arby’s an traded up for the Smoke Mountain Sandwich. It had the pork belly, plus a ton of other Arby’s meat and best of all no mayo. That being said I was still optimistic about my meal.

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The Smoke Mountain Sandwich comes piled high with pork belly, brisket, and turkey breast, smoked cheddar, and crispy onions straws slathered in their smoky q sauce. I ordered it with no straws, because onions just get in the way. My first bite was delicious, the BBQ and cheddar were a perfect combo. As I got further in I began to realize two things. One, sandwiches piled with this many meats are destined to fall apart and Two, the turkey was too overpowering. It took away from the mild brisket and pork belly.

I broke the sandwich apart and tried each ingredient on its own. Each of them is extremely tasty and I believe having omitted at least one would of really made this sandwich more cohesive. Overall the sandwich was good, glad I tried it but won’t be back for another. My final critique is that at $6.99 for the sandwich alone its no longer competing with just the fast food market, but a variety of other places I can order a good hearty sandwich from.Onto the shake.

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I’ve heard a lot over the last week or so about pumpkin being a new fad. I don’t buy it. Pumpkin is big every year at this time and just because its coming around doesn’t qualify it as a fad. If the pumpkin craze sprouted up in the middle of April, you could qualify it as a fad, this however is just pumpkin season and this item is grand. It really does a good job of balancing the pumpkin with the cheesecake and was enjoyable all the way through. Combine that with Arby’s always delivering a good shake and you’ve got a winning item. Definitely something i’ll have again before the fall is over.

Final Rating

Sandwich: 3/5

Shake: 5/5(if you like pumpkin)

Under Channel Eats: X-treme Ghost Pepper Cheese Slider and Mutant Loaded Fries

Full Disclosure: I am not a fan of White Castle, but the need to find new garbage food items each week to write about dragged me in. My dislike for White Castle comes down to one thing, the onion. I despise onions. Even battered and deep fried I can’t handle their pungent funk. The few times I’ve made it into a White Castle over the years have always left me underwhelmed. Whether attempting (usually failing) to order sliders without onions or going after whatever wacky gimmick they have going on (pulled pork) I usually end up disappointed. But still I drove to the White Castle today full of optimism.

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I’ll start with the slider. I tried to be brave and take it as it came. Deep fried onions and all I bit in. Immediately I regretted it as one of the onions broke away from the breading and drooped down onto my lip. I had to rethink my plan of attack. I lifted the top bun and removed the deep fried demons. At this time I noticed a few of the standard onions cooked into my burger, shrapnel from the war zone they cook the patties on. I ventured on and the slider had instantly become the same boring thing I’d had from White Castle in the past. As with the Habanero Quesarito I reviewed last week, the Ghost Pepper title doesn’t deliver on the heat. I finished off the slider with pure disappointment. Onto the Mutant Fries.

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Again I started off by picking the deep fried onions off. Underneath was a messy pile of french fries, bacon and BBQ sauce. I had initially thought the fries were supposed to carry some heat like the rest of the menu items, but no, it was just a normal sweet BBQ sauce. Presentation wise they looked terrible, but the ratios for all of the elements were pretty solid. Overall I would consider ordering them again if I had a reason to go back to White Castle. Unfortunately I don’t think that trip will be happening anytime soon.

Final Rating: 2/5

Under Channel Eats: Cheddar Habanero Quesarito

I hold the Quesarito up on a pedestal as the finest item on any current fast food menu. I remember its arrival bringing me out of the dark age that existed after Taco Bell had gotten rid of the Chicken Flatbread. Since this time the Quesarito has been my go-to fast food item.

Flash forward to last week and I post up the first Under Channel Eats blog, I then ask on twitter if anyone has suggestions for something new I should review. I only received one recommendation, Taco Bell’s New Cheddar Habanero Quesarito. At first I was taken aback. How have I not heard of this before now? How had I missed it?

About an hour ago, Heather and I were driving home from a dentist appointment. I knew today was the day I was going to try it and I’d been building this day up in my mind. First thing I notice after ordering…they didn’t ask me if I wanted chicken or steak. Instead the CHQ comes loaded with ground beef (the lowest of Taco Bell’s meat options). I ask for no sour cream and we cruise up to the second window, get our food and pull into a spot in the parking lot. It’s so hot that it almost burns my hand as I pull it out of the bag, I peel back the wrapper and take a bite…

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I swash it around inside my mouth, first thing I notice is the blandness of the sauce. Going in, I expected a Creamy Habanero Sauce to make me hurt a little. But no, this sauce is just boring and bright orange. Another bite reveals that I was right about my initial hesitation, the ground beef is the same as it always has been. I’m confused as to what’s happening…

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I continue to have bite after bite, looking for a silver lining. But finally the truth was coming out, they had ruined their own masterpiece. The Quesarito is very simple, and that’s what makes it so perfect. Changing two of its ingredients with obvious downgrades in quality and slapping it up on a billboard is an injustice.

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I finally had to give up on the undertaking. I sighed and handed it over to my wife to finish, I couldn’t stand looking at it any longer. She finished it off (we don’t waste food) as I sulked for a few moments in my seat. Luckily we ordered a Chicken Quesedilla as well.

Final Rating: 1/5

Under Channel Eats: Cheetos Chicken Fries

Welcome everyone to the first post of a new blog series that will be running weekly here at TUC. Under Channel Eats is a chance for me to highlight my thoughts and reviews about one of my favorite subjects, Garbage Food. This consists of any new menu items or limited time promotional food sold at fast food restaurants, liquor stores, or gas stations.

I’m a sucker for eating this kind of stuff and I’ve wanted to do a blog like this for a long time. I’m a bit of a picky eater when you start mentioning things like vegetables so I may not try everything new that comes out but i’ll do my best to tackle most of it.

When I saw an add for Burger King’s new Cheetos Chicken Fries earlier this week I knew this was the first item I was going to write about. Ironically, Burger King is my least favorite of all fast food chains and traditional Chicken Fries are just another example of why that is. But I had faith. My thought is throwing Cheetos infront of anything is going to raise it to atleast a mildly enjoyable level. Sadly, I was mistaken…

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These things were terrible. At first I thought maybe the Burger King I went to itself was just bad, but I ordered some of their nuggets aswell and was surprised how nice and fresh they were. Texture alone was more similar to a chip aisle potato stick as opposed to any kind of chicken and the flavor didn’t even remotely hint at the glory that are Cheetos.

At $2.79 I can’t piss and moan too much, but it just proved to me why Burger King will always be at the ass end of the industry. Copying Taco Bell and throwing a delicious brand of chip into some of the bullshit they offer makes me dislike them even more, and Frito Lay alittle bit for even allowing it.

Final Rating: 0/5