Here’s clucking at you, kid.
Chick-Fil-A / Deptford, NJ
Meal: Lunch / 1pm / Weekday
Menu: Chick-fil-A Website
Compare to: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Checkers..
Call me what you will, but today was the first time I’ve eaten at Chick-fil-A. There aren’t a tremendous amount of them in NJ as far as I’ve run into (the only other location I’ve ever see was in the Echelon Mall – to which I have no idea if they still exist .. or even if the mall is still there!), but they’ve done a terrific job over the years with their ‘eat moor chikin’ campaign which we’ve all likely seen. With the prices of just about everything skyrocketing, how would Chick-fil-A compete against the burger boys for your lunchtime dollar?
Unusual as it is, I want to begin by praising the Chik-fil-A website. Not only is it attractive from a marketing standpoint, but I found it very fast and easy to find their menu items (some with video introductions), calculate calories, and even get a little history on their business. You can order online (very rare for a fast food place) a day ahead of time and even have them deliver if you’ve got a $100+ order. Very cool stuff. The Deptford location is in a fairly congested area smack between Commerce Bank and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Expect it to be exceptionally busy during the lunch rush, and give yourself a couple extra minutes to wait if you’re in a hurry. Parking was almost full and there was a line of cars about 7 deep waiting for the drive through. Even for a workday lunch, I’ve never seen a fast food place so swamped.
The interior was clean enough but otherwise unremarkable. For kids, there’s a play-gym-thing for them to run around and climb on, potentially inducing vomiting if they’ve recently eaten. For adults, there’s a bunch of booths and tables, but since I didn’t stay I can’t render an opinion on them further. What immediately caught my intention was the disorderly ordering process, though. After placing your order, they immediately take the next order and you’re left milling around for them to call you by number, which was interesting since I wasn’t told or given a number. In fact, I didn’t even get a receipt. The cashiers seemed very pleasant, but it’s not like McDonald’s where the cashier will grab your stuff – others bring it to them. I felt a little clumsy reaching over other people to get my food a few minutes later.
The cost was around what I’d expect for my chargrilled chicken club sandwich, medium waffle fries, and coffee caramel shake. A $10 bill gives you a buck of change and a whole lot of calories to deal with. In my case, I was paying $1 for each 171 calories I consumed. It is clearly an expensive route to gaining weight. That said, the whole process, disorganized as it was, still went fairly quickly and I was soon en route to the majestic one-bedroom apartment I call home.
I couldn’t resist having some of the milkshake while waiting at a light, and I immediately decided it was far better than the last we’ve reviewed at the Pine Hill Diner. According to the website they use real ice cream and real milk (not powered-mixy stuff like McDonald’s), though I’m not sure if it was just coffee-caramel ice cream, or some type of syrups that made the flavor. Either way, it was pretty good and provided in a more than adequate 16oz cup, filled to the top of the plastic dome lid with whipped cream and a cherry. I do want to make a stern warning that the coffee caramel creation will set you back over 800 calories, so if you’re in the market for a milkshake you can somewhat cut your guilt with the 660-calorie vanilla version. While these are especially good milkshakes for a fast food place, you’ve got to really meter how often you get them. There’s no easy way to burn 800 calories (seriously – i’m riding my bike after this review).
The fries, although very good, didn’t quite become my favorites. They were slightly on the greasy side and could have been cooked a minute or two longer. You’ll get about a dozen in a medium ordering. The chicken club sandwich was certainly not ‘chargrilled’, as it looked to be a pre-marinated breast you’d see in a buffet or something. That isn’t a complaint, but you won’t get that smoky, grilled flavor if you’re expecting it. The breast was very moist and tender. I very much liked the effort they put into the toppings, too. I got a large-cut tomato slice, two different types of lettuce, a good slab of bacon, and provolone cheese over the chicken. In fairness to my criticism to the milkshake calories, I thought the 360 calories for the sandwich was awesome. Without all that useless, gunky special sauce that most places use, it’s really not a bad choice for lunch. Everything tasted very fresh, and looked more like something you’d make at home. They serve the sandwich in a plastic-foam container – it’s not wrapped – so it doesn’t get all mushy. The whole-wheat bun was a nice choice for this kind of meal.
Overall, you’re going to love the milkshake and the chicken (jeez, they’d better get that right!), and you’ll probably like the fries if you go when they’re a little less crowded (when it’s busy, fries don’t get a chance to drip-out some of the oil and get a nice thin browned layer). In comparison to the other national chains, they’ve got the edge insofar as we’ve reviewed.
– Fast service
– Competitive prices
– Delicious milkshakes
– Decent entrees
– Lots of alternative choices (ie coleslaw, fruitcup, chicken salad)
– Online-ordering & Delivery
– Disorganized ordering
– Minimal parking
– Poorly-designed drive-thru
Guru’s Score: 4.0 Chews
Subjective rating: A good bet for fast food.
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