In 1979, when Ronald was romping in McDonaldland and the King was putting paper crowns on kiddies' heads, Wendy's had something they didn't — a salad bar. Now, Wendy's is tossing a new line of greens into its salad saga. The chain hopes its $6 Garden Sensations Salads will compete with those in casual-dining eateries.
Is all the freshness fuss worth it?
1. Apple Pecan Chicken Salad: The most ambitious of the bunch surprisingly balances crunchy and sweet with soft and piquant. The blend of lettuce and spring mix greens was fresh, the pieces of Granny Smith and red apple were crisp and flavorful, and the savory blue cheese counterweighed the sweet candied pecans and dried cranberries. I wanted more from the salty grilled chicken, but you could do worse with 580 calories, like Wendy's Sweet & Spicy Asian Boneless Wings — ew.
2. BLT Cobb: A solid slant on a classic, this tasty salad gets a bonus for the best bacon I've had in fast-food land. It blended effortlessly with shockingly decent hard-boiled eggs, blue cheese, tomatoes, mild avocado ranch dressing, and subtle grilled chicken. The two strips of applewood-smoked scrumptiousness delivered salad satisfaction.
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3. Baja: Like eating a bowl of Wendy's chili dumped on a bed of greens (with a bag of tiny tortilla chips thrown in for laughs), this salad is a pimped-up version of the redhead's Southwest Taco Salad. Flavorless guacamole, cheap grated cheese, and a creamy red jalapeño dressing that's anything but spicy overpowered the greens and decent pico de gallo. Take a pass.
4. Spicy Chicken Caesar: Sadly, what makes this salad delicious (Wendy's spicy chicken) is also what raises its calorie count to 740, which is about 10 calories away from "Screw it, I'll have a Half-Pound Double with Cheese." While the grape tomatoes were tasteless, the asiago shavings were amazingly nutty and flavorful, the Romaine fresh, the croutons crunchy, and the lemon garlic Caesar light and creamy.
The BLT Cobb was my favorite — a real filler-upper with well-prepared ingredients. A close second was the deliciously different Apple Pecan Chicken Salad. Grab a knife to cut down the gigantic "bite-size" pieces of chicken, and take note — each salad contains more sodium than the gov's recommendation of 1,500 milligrams a day.
Wendy's salads have changed a lot since 1979, and while the redhead hopes you'll jump on her "you'll know when it's real" jingle, let's face it: You're still in Frostyland.