Your crisp chicken sandwich is languishing, steaming itself inside the foil.
If you, like me, are a Chick-fil-A fan, you can probably remember the first time you were scurrying through some airport and paused momentarily to buy one, or were driving along some Southern road at about sunset and a franchise loomed up just as you were losing it from hungry. Wherever you were, the taste was magical: crisp and smooshy at once, with a fundamental chicken-y flavor.
This is not the same sandwich you enjoyed on the run in the airport.
When I assembled Fork in the Road’s “10 Fast-Food Items That Don’t Totally Suck” I omitted Chick-fil-A, principally because there was only one semi-public branch in town. And it wasn’t a very good one. Well, a couple of commenters shamed me into going again to try what remains one of my favorite fast-food franchises.
Our own branch of Chick-fil-A — a pop up, if you will — is situated on the ground floor of an NYU dorm, at 5 University Place. Don’t worry: Whether you’re a student or not, you’ll be allowed inside the food court, though nothing makes that obvious from the street. Inside, find a giant dining room with students at dozens of tables, many peering into their laptops. There are a couple of other eating establishments, but Chik-fil-A is very prominently featured, via a typical food-court build-in.
I’m cutting to the chase: The sandwiches are cooked long before they’re sold, and languish in foil-lined pouches all queued up and waiting for someone to acquire them. This effectively steams the contents, which turns the sandwiches into tired mush. Plowing through one — small as they are — is more mastication than infatuation.
If you can talk them into giving you a fresh one, it might be a different story. And don’t forget to bring your meal-plan card for a discount.
Shopping mall or distinguished institution of higher learning?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 20, 2010