When Chick-fil-A® opened its first restaurant near me in Chicago, I heard about the lines around the corner and the police directing traffic into the restaurants. And I didn’t quite get it. I’d seen their tv ads before (thank you college football), but I didn’t see what made it so special that people flocked to it. It’s just another fast food joint, right? Except that it isn’t. The food at Chick-fil-A® is surprisingly close to homemade, and it tastes that way. I get the lines now. The introduction of their new grilled chicken makes it even tastier – and healthier.
I was invited to sample much of the new menu with friends, and I think we were all taken aback by the variety of the offerings and the flavor of them. Chick-fil-A® spent almost 8 years and $50 million developing a new grill to provide more flavorful grilled items for their customers. The three new entrees were introduced last month – the Chick-fil-A® Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Chick-fil-A® Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich and Chick-fil-A® Grilled Nuggets.
Before I went to the event, I knew that Chick-fil-A® marinated their chicken with sea salt, lemon, garlic and savory herbs. I had visions of a huge grill the length of my kitchen to prepare the new grilled entrees. Imagine my shock as we got a tour of the kitchen to see that the grill is smaller than the grill I have at home. No wonder the food at Chick-fil-A® tastes so fresh. There is no physical way to make a reserve of items and keep them under heat lamps until customers order them. The food is incredibly fresh, and every item that comes out of a fryer or off the grill is immediately put on a timer to ensure that it doesn’t “time out” – and believe me, that time is surprisingly short. (Have I said how surprised I was by the entire experience yet?)
On top of that, Chick-fil-A® actually cooks in the restaurant the vast majority of their food. The biscuits you order in the morning (yes, Chick-fil-A® serves breakfast – and thank goodness this restaurant didn’t exist when I would drive past the area daily on my way to and from work or I would weigh for more right now) are made from scratch, rolled and cut each morning. Their lemonade? It’s fresh squeezed, with the store making gallons of it each day. The same goes with the fried chicken. Not only it is recognizable pieces of chicken, but they are marinated in the store and hand breaded before being fried. The care that goes into it is amazing, including sifting through the flour after each batch is breaded to ensure the flour is pure before making another batch.
Once we had our tour and were properly impressed by the care and dedication of Chick-fil-A® towards providing a quick and tasty meal for all their customers, we were able to sample the new grilled items. We were all suitably impressed with the variety of options out there. In addition to the three new grilled items, the grilled chicken is also used in the Chick-fil-A® Grilled Market Salad, Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap®, and Chick-fil-A® Chicken Salad Sandwich.
The salad was amazing. I love that there is the option to have granola with it but that it is served on the side so that customers can determine if they wish to use it or not. This is another of the great ways that Chick-fil-A® is friendly to those with food allergies and sensitivities. Without the granola, the salad is soy and nut free. Without the blue cheese crumbles, it becomes dairy free, as well. Since everything is prepared to order, it is easy to make those adjustments. There are plenty of gluten free, dairy free, and more items on the menu, although there are no allergen free prep areas for those with truly severe allergies.
The grilled nuggets were tasty, as well. It’s inspiring me to marinate some of my chicken at home with sea salt, lemon, garlic, and various herbs to try to replicate the taste. I wish that the nuggets were chicken breast meat like other entrees, but I love that there is a nugget option – especially for kids – that is grilled, giving them a healthier choice than traditional fried nuggets. These had plenty of flavor and were juicy, just like the ones I grill at home. A six count grilled nugget kids meal is only 100 calories for the chicken portion.
As good as the chicken sandwich was, there are definitely times when I’m looking for something out of the usual fast food options, and Chick-fil-A® has ones that hit the spot for me. I am a sucker for chicken salad, and the chicken salad from Chick-fil-A® is a great one. The chicken is mixed with eggs, celery, relish and mayo, giving is great flavor and a satisfying crunch. Because they are made to order, the toasted bread is freshly toasted and not at all soggy.
The grilled chicken cool wrap is another refreshing option, with the grilled chicken strips combining with shredded cabbage and carrots, as well as green lettuces and cheeses. We agreed that it is definitely better with just a bit of dressing (my favorite was the avocado lime ranch dressing) as it was a touch dry without.
The new menu has certainly won me over, and my friends who joined me felt the same way. Chick-fil-A® is proud of their new grill and the food it delivers. They gave me 10 cards that provide the bearer with a free item for the months of May through June. In May, you can receive a free grilled chicken sandwich. In June, you get a free grilled chicken club sandwich. In July, you have your choice of which of the two sandwiches you would like free. Because May is almost over, this will be a quick giveaway with 5 winners receiving 2 cards each to check out the new Chick-fil-A® offerings. If you win, please respond ASAP so you don’t miss out on that May chicken sandwich (or I’ll have to select a new winner – sad face)!