Other than streamlining from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC, and adding or subtracting menu items periodically (double down!), not much has changed at Chez Colonel over my lifetime, from color scheme to those wildly successful 11 herbs and spices. My family didn’t eat there much when I was a kid so I can’t say I grew up eating KFC, but I do find as an adult that I get a craving every now and again, maybe once a year, maybe not quite that often.
I got the craving recently, and indulged it, enough to remind me how little has changed. It’s not about the chicken, which is nothing special, but the Original Recipe® coating on the chicken (herbs! spices!) really is good. Sanders knew what he was doing. I also like the mashed potatoes, which may or may not include actual potatoes, I don’t care, I like them. The gravy helps. And the biscuits are solid too, if kind of high in sodium (530 grams apiece, that’s about a third of an adult sodium RDA).
But we don’t go to KFC for health food. I think once a year isn’t so bad. I do miss the potato salad, which I remember really liking years ago but apparently they don’t sell anymore. Some franchises also carry the “fish snacker” — a smaller but better version of the Filet-o-Fish. You wouldn’t expect a chicken place to have a good fish sandwich — what would the colonel think?! — but they do. Wheaton’s KFC (the one on University near Amherst), alas, no longer offers the fish snacker.
I’m trying to think of other fast food cravings, but I seem to have outgrown most of mine. I like Five Guys, of course, and other upscale-fast burgers. If I had access to Jack in the Box I would eat there too much, it is probably just as well they haven’t penetrated the DC area. In-n-Out of course. A few unique loThat’s about it.
Could be worse, could be Taco Bell.
Merzi means “choice” but, if you say it through your nose while shrugging, it means “thank you” and I have to say merci, Merzi, for bringing fresh, reasonably high quality assembly-line (“fast casual” as they say in the restaurant biz) Indian food to the masses. At least, the Gallery Place masses; my only problem with the place is that it isn’t a few blocks closer to my Metro Center workplace. If only there were a ferry across to Merzi…
For $8 you get a choice of starch (naan or rice) or salad, plus a choice of meats (including shrimp) and/or legumes and/or veggies, and a selection of chutneys and hot sauces. All the toppings make the naan hard to eat, and I will probably get rice instead next time, but it’s good naan (also sold separately). All told, quite a bit of food, and it has the added bonus of being good: shredded lamb is tender and flavorful; the “warm” sauce is actually hot! Maybe not streets-of-Goa hot, but hot enough. Will it make you sweat? Yeah!
Even better, the plump, potato-and-pea-filled samosas are excellent, a great deal at $1.49 apiece. Little fried potato tikka cakes aren’t as exciting but a decent snack at 99 cents. Overall, among the best quick service lunch options downtown, along with Five Guys and (if you get lucky) a food cart. Greatest Indian food ever? Hardly. But, a good lunch deal at this price and quantity and speed. I was in and out in like two minutes. Merzi is the place Naan and Beyond only dreams of being.
Will wonders never cease? Nava gets an enthusiastic writeup this week from the Gazette, who have evidently rediscovered the fact that East MoCo, like the rest of MoCo, has establishments that sell prepared food for a fee.
Meanwhile, I have it on good authority that Chipotle opened as scheduled today in Kensington (as previewed recently by What’s Up Wheaton), in the shopping center at Connecticut and Knowles, and the lines were long. Such pent-up burrito demand in Kensington! I’m with WUW, hoping next-door-neighbors Continental Pizza and Chipotle can both prosper. I’m not a big fast-service-Mexican fan in general, but I think Chipotle is the relative best of the bunch, compared with Qdoba, Baja Fresh, or (shiver) Taco Bell.
Finally, TBD reports MoCo is going to start enforcing the law that restaurants must keep their windows shut at all times. This will mostly affect Bethesda — I can’t think of any Wheaton restaurants that have windows meant to be kept open during dining hours — but seemed worth noting. Apparently the law is designed to combat rats in the kitchen (or elsewhere).
What is bad? What is good? What is “you”? Just what we need, a philosophy food blog.
Whether Wheaton should welcome Costco and its cheap bulk allegedly environment destroying Bunyan-sized gas station is NOT the topic of tonight’s MoCo Council public hearing — that discussion has been rescheduled for the May 20 meeting. Got that, WUDAC? No? Whatev.
Which is more unhealthy, swimming in a public (?) pool downstream from Costco’s gas station or eating the new KFC Double Down sandwich? Data suggests the DD is not so bad, depending on what it is compared to, unless you calculate badness per calorie, in which case bleccch. Also, beware Panera! I could have told you that. I wish Nate Silver had included the Lankford Grocery burger in his study, it might have broken all the dials. Come to think of it, the Costco footlong hot dog would also have been a fine addition to the study.
There is a KFC in Wheaton but I do not expect to try the DD anytime soon.
So say the Taco Time adverts, although I am more amused by this 1983 ad, apparently from Australia. Taco Time is a Pacific Northwest-based competitor to Taco Bell, which I mentioned recently as I bemoaned my inability to get a taco in Buenos Aires. My friend Brent commented that TT is merely “average” and expensive compared to TB, which is “cheap, fast, maybe regrettable.” And he noted that in Seattle at least, higher-quality and not outrageously expensive taco trucks are now the way to go.
It is true that the Time is pricier than the Bell, but you get what you pay for: IMO, TB is cheap, fast, and always regrettable, sometimes instantly. TT’s soft tacos may not be any better, but I don’t order soft tacos. I order the two items that TT does better than anyone else, items that few other places even offer: crisp burritos and Mexi-Fries. You can now get the Mexi-Fries — slightly spiced tater tots — stuffed or swimming in cheese, but the unadorned variety are plenty good enough for me. The crisp burritos are sort of simplified chimichangas and I’m sure they’re terribly unhealthy, but they are incredibly good. Last I checked, they were in the $2.50-$3 range, which isn’t exorbitant. And TB offers neither sort of product, and I bet most (any?) taco trucks don’t either. I would sooner drink from the Chao Praya river than eat at Taco Bell, but I look forward to my next Taco Time visit, hopefully in the summer of 2010.
Having said all that, I have heard great things about taco trucks in Seattle and elsewhere, including here in the DC area; the Maryland suburbs are rife with them. Street food in general is enjoying a renaissance in the United States, from Seattle (I look forward someday to trying pork here, and a pre-Mariners meal from these guys) to LA to NYC to DC. The problem in DC is there are few options (other than hot dogs) near where I work, and I don’t have time during lunch to traverse the entire city looking for the best food carts. For example, I’d love to try Fojol Bros. but they only seem to be active a couple of days a week, and never near enough to me. But the street food situation is getting better all the time, to our collective benefit.