If you could take a snapshot of fast food menus from 10-15 years ago and compare them with menus today, it'd be glaringly obvious that on-the-go joints are making a push toward healthier menus. Salads have acquired more real estate. Calorie counts are starting to appear to assist in guilting people into making "better" dietary decisions. Wendy's has now taken another step in the name of clean-ish living with the release of its Chicken Flatbreads line.
For this post, the Asiago Ranch Chicken Flatbread ($3.99, sandwich only) was tasted, but our beloved Scarlet Minx also offers up a Smoky Honey Mustard version as well. The item features a seed-freckled square of flatbread that is slathered with ranch dressing and folded around lettuce, tomato, bacon, Asiago cheese and sliced grilled chicken. It's hard to come up with a classification for the item. Though it's on a flatbread, it's technically not flat. It's not really a wrap or a sandwich by typical standards either. Perhaps a closer approximation would be to call it a "horizontal taco," but that sounds ... unsettling. We'll just leave the name up to your own interpretation, cool?
The taste of the concoction is pretty good. Wendy's does bacon like few other fast food chains, striking that perfect balance between doneness and flimsiness. The ranch and Asiago form a great trio with the sliced chicken, while the tomato and spring mix lettuce sit in their proper places in the audience. The only odd part, ironically, is the signature flatbread. The taste is akin to the butt-end of a loaf of fancy, twice-wrapped whole-grain bread. It's not awful, but also doesn't add anything to the dish.
The slight letdown provided by the bready quadrilateral got me wondering, "Is this really healthier?" It seems there would be no point to eating an ill-fitting component if there was no nutritional benefit. I took to the Wendy's nutritional website for a little sleuthing and compared the Asiago Ranch Chicken Fold Thing (ARCFT) with the Asiago Ranch Chicken Club, substituting grilled bird for the breaded fillet on the club to keep things even. Across the board, the Club Sandwich clocked in with fattier numbers: Calories (740 vs. 530), total fat (38g vs. 30g) and saturated fat (12g vs. 8g) saw significant drops.
For grins, I then compared the ARCFT with the dressed-down Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich, which nixes the cheese and bacon and swaps ranch for smoky honey mustard. The result was telling. The Ultimate Chicken trounced the ARCFT soundly in calories (400 vs. 530), total fat (10g vs. 30g) and saturated fat (3.5g vs. 8g), while losing the battle of carbs (43g vs. 35g). Who would have guessed that taking off the bacon would make something healthier?
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In all, the ARCFT is a tiny step in the direction of health, but not the giant leap it may appear to be at first blush. The taste is decent, but not quite justified by jaw-dropping nutritional savings.