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Lunch guys: Chick-fil-A packs taste into sublime sandwich

POSTED: February 24, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Chicken is a beautiful, versatile thing. And no one works it better than Chick-fil-A. That we Lunch Guys can agree on.

On one side of the menu is Chick-fil-A’s stripped-down nuggets; on the other, the Chargrill Club, the most dressed-up sandwich on the menu. Are all those condiments too much of a good thing, or so much it’s chicken heaven?

Chris: Tom, this Chargrill Club has been my go-to sandwich at Chick-fil-A for a long time, ever since these healthier "chargrill" sandwiches were unveiled a couple years back.

In fact, it’s my favorite chicken sandwich anywhere, anytime — though respect is due to McDonald’s for those Premium Chicken offerings. (And not much respect goes to those "spicy" chicken sandwiches franchises roll out every couple months as a trick of the tongue, burning off taste buds to compensate for plucked-out poultry.)

Really, this is the strength of Chick-fil-A: a miraculously moist, lightly peppery chicken fillet. Unlike some other chains’ chicken, this fillet is so quality, I’d eat it unadorned on a china plate with my best silverware.

It’s the chicken that’s the star, especially since almost anything would outshine that limp bacon on the perfectly circular Swiss slice. See, the sandwich isn’t perfect. But there’s just enough going on alongside the lettuce, tomato and, of course, piquant pickles to make me upgrade from the Club-less Chargrill sandwich every time.

In fact, I’m so hooked on the Club, I haven’t ordered the nuggets in a long, long time.

Tom: Every chain that offers a grilled chicken sandwich should slip a mole into Chick-fil-A to learn how it’s done. You are right about the chicken breast being near-perfect. It’s moist, thick, peppery and could hold its own alone. But the good news is it doesn’t have to.

I don’t know what happened to the bacon at your Chick, but mine was tasty, thick enough and cooked to perfection. I also love how this club comes with no mayo — just a barbecue-honey mustard on the side that I prefer to leave off. The big leaf of green lettuce is also crisp and tidy — no shredded lettuce left all over the car.

Similarly, one thick but not overly ripe slice of tomato does the trick. But the crowning achievement is the pickle. A few bites in and you are loving the sandwich, but then you get a bite with pickle and it puts the experience over the top.

Before this I never would have though of putting a pickle on a grilled chicken sandwich. Now I can’t imagine it without one. In addition to all that, the entire sandwich has fewer than 400 calories and 11 grams of fat. If the Subway guy would have eaten these he could have lost the weight and had his taste buds satisfied.

Chris: With a sandwich like this, it’s no wonder Chick-fil-A is to chicken what In-N-Out Burger is to beef. If you live in a town with a Chick-fil-A, you revel in it. If you don’t, you should plan your next road trip now.

Tom: Going to Chick-fil-A and not getting a classic fried chicken sandwich or nuggets is like going to McDonald’s and not getting fries. But times and waistlines are a-changin and if you have to eat light, this is the place and the item to do it with.

Tom James and Chris Tauber are freelance writers.



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