Tuesday, October 18, 2011

TBG Eats: The NEW Bacon Ranch Chicken Flatbread Sandwich from Taco Bell

Current Weight: 165.2 lbs.

Suggested new eatery to wife. She said she's eaten there twice - violating the "old married couple" credo. This is "date night adultery". -- From my Twitter feed.

Next month, Mrs. Bootleg and I will celebrate our nine-year wedding anniversary. "Celebrate", of course, is in the eye of the beholder. For our first anniversary, we went to dinner at one of those pretentious steakhouses where 80% of the interior decor -- from the booths to the menus -- is made from leather. In 2012, for our tenth anniversary, we've kicked around the idea of doing New York (this time together!)

But, in roughly three weeks, for an anniversary that's neither the first or divisible by five? Date night.

Date night has evolved significantly since my wife and I actually...y'know...started dating. It's not better. It's not worse. It's just...different. It has limits. In fact, I remember when "date night" -- for us -- changed forever.

On our second anniversary, Mrs. Bootleg and I had designs on dinner and a movie. We found an upscale Italian restaurant in a section of San Diego that teetered precariously between "sketchy" and "respectable". To this day, I remember my linguine with mussels and being mildly repulsed at my plate full of mollusks. The
half-open shells implied that their collective stock pot-caused deaths occurred mid-scream.

I also enjoyed several whiskey-based cocktails that evening. In fact, I drank so much that we had to cancel the "movie" portion of dinner and a movie. (Since we'd planned to see Jamie Foxx in Ray, my actions incurred the wrath of both Mrs. Bootleg AND the National Black Caucus.) Not long after that, "dinner and a movie" became "dinner or a movie". When we go out to dinner, my wife and I can enjoy a large meal at a leisurely pace and be home before the food coma kicks in. When we go to the movies, we'll see an evening show and then visit our usual watering hole -- blending in seamlessly with the bar patrons who are 62.5% of our age.

It just so happened to be "movie night" a few weeks ago, so Mrs. Bootleg and I saw
Moneyball. It was the second time for me and while I enjoyed the film (again), I think I might've been more excited for our post-theater drinks at Callahan's. Their signature red ale is one of my favorite beers and I'd deliberately skipped dinner so I'd have room for an 11:00 PM sourdough bread bowl of their famous Irish stew -- which is akin to eating perfectly seasoned spoonfuls of a petting zoo.

Mrs. Bootleg, however, called an audible and suggested we try a different nightcap location.

As most of you know, my wife
loves margaritas. Unfortunately, Callahan's doesn't make them. This would've been the perfect time for me to exercise one of those rare marital vetoes, but I'd just made my wife sit through more than two hours of cinematic sabermetrics. Besides, I could tell by the casual insistence in her voice that she was subliminally begging me to push back on the subject -- just so she could remind me that I'd made her sit through more than two hours of cinematic sabermetrics. I opted not to give her the nag-centric satisfaction.

So, instead of Callahan's, we pulled up to
Miguel's Cocina -- a cookie-cutter, casual dining faux-ican spot that provided the delicious margaritas Mrs. Bootleg craved and at least passable sustenance for me.

No, wait. The kitchen's closed.

Oh, well...at least my wife got what she wanted all along.

No, wait. She had just two or three sips of her margarita. She obviously didn't like it. If we had gone to Callahan's, Mrs. Bootleg could've had an impossible-to-screw-up glass of wine. And, food.

All of this explains how we ended up at the Taco Bell drive-thru window an hour later.

Last year, I reviewed TB's
Chicken Flatbread Sandwich. It was a solid -- albeit simplistic -- snack that was tastier than the sum of its parts and positioned at a sensible price. It's been brought back for a limited time and joined by a new Bacon Ranch version. Here's the description from Taco Bell's website:

A warm, soft flatbread layered with 100% marinated all-white-meat chicken, a three cheese blend and topped with bacon ranch sauce.

The chalky-dry flatbread remains unchanged from the original. The chunks of chicken are still sparse and Taco Bell's three cheese blend is -- as always -- an indiscernible confluence of cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella. It was the chipotle sauce that carried last year's Chicken Flatbread Sandwich. This time, TB seeks the same result with a bacon ranch sauce.

It's a decent condiment that's hurt by two of its attributes. First, it's very thin. As a contrast to the other elements, it should've been thicker -- perhaps more "spread" than "sauce". Second, the imitation bacon flavor in the sauce tastes very artificial. Imagine a
Bac-Os Extract and you'll get the idea.

Taco Bell's Bacon Ranch Chicken Flatbread Sandwich isn't awful, but simply doesn't work as well as the original. It could really use some real bacon flavor and mouthfeel.

Remember: if you're settling for fake bacon, it means your wife won.

Grade: 2.5 (out of 5) Calories: 300 Fat: 16g


Lew B said...

December 17th 1993.

48 hours of non-stop intoxication. Lunch at Callahan's with the Red Ale (god how I loved it so). Took a 1/2 gallon to-go and hopped back on my motorcycle. Came out of a blackout while slamming into the center divide at Sabre Springs. Glass, beer and me everywhere. I'll tell you the full story at our local watering hole. Soon?

NY Jon said...

Aaron AND Mrs. Bootleg in New York? May I call first dibs among your small collection of NYC contacts?

(Or do I have to wait until the A's schedule is released to determine your non-Yankee Stadium availability??) :)

Aaron C. said...

@Jon -- The A's schedule already *is* out! Funny you should mention that, because the wife and I have been debating when to go out there if we can pull this off. One of us wants to do it in November (our anniversary month) while the other one would rather go when the NY weather is more "baseball season".

Josh said...

I thought Callahan's was our spot, Cam. Sigh...