Sunday, May 10, 2009

TBG Eats: Taco Bell's NEW Fully Loaded Salad (Now UPDATED with Steak!)

Current Weight: 169.0 lbs.

There are three types of fast food customers I can't stand.

(1) The "special needs" people who are inevitably in front of me in the drive-thru. They're the ones who turn a two minute process into 20 minutes of torment. I'll spot them the "Whopper with extra onions and no mayo" type of order. It's when they start asking for a Whopper "with that bacon-ranch sauce, instead of mayonnaise" or sincerely inquiring about the cheese BK uses and whether it's "real cheddar". I've heard both examples within the confines of The King in the past month.

(2) The "how big is a large" people. Mrs. Bootleg just so happens to be the most egregious offender here. I mean, how many goddam personal pan pizzas does someone have to eat before realizing they're ALL about seven inches in diameter? Oftentimes, the sizes are on display near the counter, anyway, or you're forced to rely on the awkward hand gestures and inaccurate descriptions from the G.E.D. ringing up your order.

(3) The "this doesn't look like the picture" people. Truth be told, Michael Douglas forever retired this tired cliché in Falling Down, but after almost 20 years, it's time for a comeback…

If you're reading this lightly-read blog, I'm assuming you've seen Taco Bell's new ad campaign for their Fully Loaded Salads: two dudes sitting poolside can't find the lettuce in their "salads". Unfortunately, I couldn't find the spot online or I'd have included it here.

After surviving TB's Fully Loaded Nachos, I went all in for a Fully Loaded Salad. Your choices are Chipotle Steak or Chicken Ranch…I opted for the latter, which (according to Taco Bell's website) is served with grilled chicken, zesty ranch dressing and LOADED with beans, cheese and rice. Mine - see below - was also LOADED with lettuce and LOADED with reduced-fat sour cream (which is akin to daytime, non-drowsy Thera-Flu or decaf coffee*).

Look, the salad was fine. I only needed about a quarter of the dressing packet and after a few stirs with my plastic fork, I had a gloriously gloppy mess of an inside-out chicken burrito staring back at me. The meat is surprisingly well-seasoned, while the refried beans hold it all together and go with everything – up to and including the deep fried flour tortilla "bowl".

But, come on, Taco Bell. In the commercial, the punchline is that this is "technically" a salad. In reality, it qualifies on all counts.

UPDATE!: Late last week, I completed TB's set of Fully Loaded Salads with a gourmand's conquest of the Chipotle Steak version. Aside from the difference in meat – and Taco Bell's carne asada has always been disappointingly sweet, overly chewy and obviously reheated – this salad comes with a decent little dressing that's creamy, but with a bit of a spicy kick and more flavor that the ranch topping used on the chicken salad.

Follow the eating instructions as outlined above with the Chicken Ranch salad and you'll have a similar "imploded burrito" experience with this one. I can't score this one as high as the Chicken Ranch salad, though. Let's do the math: the Chipotle Steak salad comes with better-tasting dressing, but the Chicken Ranch has better meat.

And, if there's one tie-breaking factor in MY salad…it's the meat.

Grade (Chicken Ranch): 3.5 (out of 5)

Grade (Chipotle Steak): 3

* - I'm almost certain that I used this same joke about reduced-fat sour cream in an earlier TBG post, right down to the Thera-Flu and decaf comparisons. If so, I'm sorry. If so and you missed it the first time, just ignore this footnote. Cool? Cool.

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