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Review: Wendy’s Pulled Pork Sandwich middle of the road

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Fast-food chain goes whole hog on the latest food trend with a trio of pulled-pork items.

wendy's, pulled pork, burgers, fries, fast food

WENDY’S PULLED PORK SANDWICH

THE GOOD: None of the flavours overwhelm the others.

THE BAD: With no real standouts besides the bun, it’s unmemorable.

RATING: A A A A

If there’s a hotter trend in food right now than pulled pork, I’ve yet to hear about it. Just as poutine exploded everywhere a few years ago, now every restaurant – from high-end to quick serve – is getting on the figurative pork wagon.

Wendy’s is the latest, but rather than just test the waters, the fast-food chain has gone… ahem… whole hog with not just one but three pulled pork menu items. Here in Canada, the chain is now serving up a Pulled Pork Sandwich, a Pulled Pork Cheeseburger and, of course, Pulled Pork Poutine.

I’ve been slow in trying any of them thanks to the no-processed-food and no-sugar diet I’ve been on, but I figured I’d make an exception. The things I do for readers.

Before I dive in, I should mention that of all the efforts by various fast-food chains to supposedly go upscale, Wendy’s is doing it best. I happen to live near one of the newly renovated restaurants and it’s an actual pleasure to visit. The place is clean, bright and modern, with TVs and even a fireplace.

The menu itself has also been spiffyed up, led by the uber-popular pretzel burger bun, which is now a full-time item – you can upgrade any burger to it for an extra 40 cents.

With that out of the way, it was time for a tough choice. Which of the three new items would I try, or would I do something truly foolish and order all three?

Figuring that doing so would be akin to a recovering heroine addict going on a week-long binge – along with the possibility that things could end in similar tragedy – I instead opted for just one item. The Pulled Pork Sandwich seemed like the purest form of the new lineup, so that’s what I went with.

Choices? Here?

It was then that the counter lady presented me with several choices: What kind of bun and what kind of barbecue sauce did I want?

I was taken aback because usually the only thing you get asked in the type of restaurant where food is generally assembled rather than cooked is whether you want to eat there or have it to go.

I asked what the choices were for barbecue sauce and she gave me the goods: sweet, spicy or smokey. Well, now. You can have sweet or spicey with just about anything, but how often is “smokey” an option? A simple choice, really.

As for the bun, I was tempted to upgrade to pretzel, but the counter lady was saying it came on something already suitably fancy. It sounded like she was saying “brioche,” but I had trouble believing her. Because this was Wendy’s.

It was indeed a brioche bun, or that’s what it looked like in the menu photo. That sounded good enough to me. I plopped down my $8 for the sandwich, fries and drink combo (Diet Coke – no sugar please).

Out came the sandwich and I very nearly bit into it without first taking a photo for the purposes of this review. I guess it had been so long since I’d had anything processed that the lizard portion of my brain took over.

I snapped away and mowed down.

First bite: okay, nothing wrong here. Second bite: not too shabby. Third bite: this is just fine.

I can’t say it tasted smokey, but the barbecue sauce didn’t overwhelm the rest of the sandwich, as can easily happen with these sorts of things. The creamy cole slaw on top was also subdued – not too sharp or tangy, and in fact a little bland.

The pork itself was soft and moist, the opposite of the sort of dry and tough you’d expect in a mass-produced situation.

The bun, while not exactly a revelation, was the best part. Soft and springy and denser than a regular burger bun, it gave the sandwich that little touch of class.

All told, it was certainly not an artisan deli sandwich, but it was also not the hastily thrown together mess you might expect. I wouldn’t say Wendy’s Pulled-Pork Sandwich was memorable, but it was also decent enough to make me want to try the Pulled-Pork Cheeseburger and Pulled-Pork Poutine.

But that’s a relapse for another day.

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