Let's just go ahead and spoil the ending by telling you that there's no clear winner here. Each of the three chicken-and-waffle sandwiches we tried excelled in some areas... and fell short in others. Which 'which you prefer will come down to whether you prefer taste or convenience, and whether you prefer a sweet or spicy flavor to your sandwich.
As you can see, this is a sit-down meal. You've got one enormous, freshly pressed waffle, with a hint on cinnamon in the batter, paired with two pieces of delicious fried chicken. Personally, I'd take Roscoe's fried chicken over Mrs. Knott's or even Disneyland's Plaza Inn. (But I am eagerly awaiting the debut of the refurbished Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant at Knott's Berry Farm next year. I will need to collect more data to test my hypothesis, you know. Science!)
While fried chicken and Mickey waffles have shown up at the Plaza Inn as a special-event dish, Southern Californians can find chicken and waffles in a theme park year-'round at Universal Studios Hollywood. The Chicken & Waffle Sandwich from Cletus' Chicken Shack features a fried chicken breast in between two waffles, served with lettuce, tomato, and maple mayo sauce. Universal also delivers cole slaw and spicy krinkle fries on the side, for $11.99.
The Pros: Universal Studios Hollywood's sandwich offers the best waffles of the three — two fresh Belgian-style waffles that could stand on their own as breakfast, or an indulgent snack. The USH sandwich also included the most chicken of any of the sandwiches we tried — more than I could finish. And Universal's sweet and sticky maple mayo manages to call back to the classic syrup-drenched flavor of a traditional chicken and waffle meal while also reminding you that this is, in fact, a sandwich.
The Cons: What the heck are lettuce and tomato doing on a chicken-and-waffle sandwich? That's a salad — something far too healthy to be associated with a pairing as decadent as chicken and waffles. Like one should do with a salad, I tossed it.
But the big problem here — and I mean that literally — is those waffles. Yeah, they taste great, but they're just too darn tall for anyone with a mouth smaller than Mick Jagger's to eat this as a sandwich. I ended up deconstructing the whole thing and eating it as a traditional chicken in waffles meal, with the waffles on the side. Delicious, yes, but not a sandwich.
Last week in Orlando, I tried the east coast version of Cletus' Chicken & Waffle Sandwich, and found something somewhat different.
In Orlando, two thinner, rounded waffles replace the deep Belgian-style waffles from Hollywood. Like the rest of the sandwich's ingredients, the waffles were sitting out under a heat lamp on the counter, awaiting your order. (In Hollywood, orders are assembled in the kitchen before being delivered to the counter, like a more traditional quick-service restaurant.) The Orlando chicken breast seemed smaller than Hollywood's too. And there was about half as much lettuce, tomato, and maple mayo on this version of the sandwich. Orlando's also substituted tater tots for the krinkle fries, and skipped the cole slaw entirely. The Orlando version costs a buck less, going for $10.99.
The Pros: Thanks to the thinner pair of waffles, this was the only sandwich of the three that I would consider a true sandwich that could be eaten like a sandwich. Plus, what I said above about the maple mayo.
The Cons: Easily the least impressive waffles of the three. Sitting out under the heat lamp, these waffles just weren't as crispy as those on the other sandwiches. And we're gilding the lily with any side dishes here, but I preferred the combo of the cole slaw and spicy krinkle fries in Hollywood to Orlando's tots.
And now, for something completely different, let's head over to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Specialty Waffle Sandwich at Sleep Hollow Refreshments.
For $7.49, you get a fried chicken breast served a top a folded waffle, bathed in a sweet and spicy sauce and dressed with argula and cole slaw. No side dishes here.
The Pros: If you're looking for a spicier option, Disney's chicken-and-waffle sandwich delivers more flavor than the Universal sandwiches. With a different taste profile, the argula and cole slaw don't seem out of place here, accompanying the spicy chicken well, instead of distracting from it. Plus, this is the only one of the three locations where you can see your waffle being made fresh for you.
The Cons: Freshly made waffles mean looooong waits at this wildly popular quick-service window. And while this is a sandwich competition, the single folded waffle makes it seem more like you're eating some weird class of giant taco instead of a sandwich. That said, the sauce and cole slaw eventually conspired to split the waffle at the fold, creating two halves and a more traditional sandwich. This was the smaller chicken breast of the three, as well. Finally, if you are hankering for the traditional taste of maple-slathered chicken and waffles, this is not the sandwich you seek, as tasty as it might be on its own terms.
So there you go. Want traditional chicken and waffle flavor? Choose Hollywood. Want the convenience of a sandwich? Universal Studios Florida has you covered. Want a different, spicy take on the classic? Head to Disney.
Then head to comments to tell us which sandwich you prefer.Tweet
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