Monday, December 06, 2010

Secret menus

Yesterday I found this amusing article about secret menus at a number of restaurants, so I thought I'd write about it.

First up, Arby's:

•Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich - This spin on the cordon bleu is a chicken breast with a piece of ham on top of it with melted Swiss cheese.

•Wet Fries - Hot fries smothered in cheese sauce.

•French Dip – This is a classic Arby’s menu item that is off most menu’s but can still be ordered.
Ok first of all, the idea of ham with cheese does not appeal to me AT ALL. I strongly dislike ham. And that on top of chicken?! Ew.
The "wet fries" sound kinda like the "animal-style" fries at In-n-Out (more on that later) or like any other kind of cheese fries. At any rate, I like my Arby's fries just the way they are, thank you very much.
Now, I'm surprised that they don't have a French Dip on every Arby's menu seeing as they specialize in roast beef sandwiches. I mean, a French Dip is like the quintessential roast beef sandwich. I seem to recall seeing it on the menu at least one Arby's though. But I guess you can still order it anyway.
Next up is sandwich chain Blimpie:
•Cheese Trio - This sandwich is a no meat alternative to the normal Blimpie sandwiches, and combines three different types of cheese.
To be honest, I've never been to Blimpie (I'm not sure they even exist out here). I'm not sure why you'd want a sandwich with no meat, unless of course you're a vegetarian (or have some other dietary restriction - for instance those who eat kosher can not eat certain meats, either at all or combined with other menu items). But to pile on the cheese instead doesn't sound like a great alternative.
Next, Burger King:
•Mustard Whopper - This is a normal Whopper with one difference, mustard is spread onto the sandwich instead of mayo.

•Veggie Whopper - A great alternative for vegetarians who love the flavor of Burger King, the beef is substituted for with a veggie patty.

•BLT - A bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich that comes in either a small or medium size.

•Ham and Cheese - A classic sandwich option that you can have served either hot or cold.

•Frings - An order of frings will split your French fry order with onion rings.

•Suicide Burger - This is a large burger including four meat patties, four slices of cheese, bacon and special sauce.

•Rodeo Burger - A burger assembled with onion rings and bbq sauce on it.

•BK Club - This sandwich is the Original chicken sandwich with bacon, tomato, and cheese.
Ok, starting with the Mustard Whopper. I wasn't aware that the Whopper didn't usually come with mustard. Pretty much every fast food burger there is comes with mustard. But hey, if you like your mustard, go for it.
I applaud Burger King for offering a veggie patty option though. I don't eat there often, but I will say that their burger patties are pretty greasy. Maybe this is because I get the Double Stack (that small burger that's combo #11 or something like that).
The BLT confuses me, but then again not many fast food chains have BLTs, so it's nice that they offer it.
Ham and cheese I have already condemned above.
Frings has got to be the weirdest portmanteau I've ever seen. So with this I guess you get half French fries, half onion rings? Like how when my dad orders double rice for his side at Mexican restaurants?
The "Suicide Burger" is probably named that for good reason. Generally, I avoid anything with more than two burger patties on it. Plus it has bacon to boot, and cheese. And sauce! Totally not good for you.
The Rodeo Burger I don't quite get. They don't already have a burger with onions and BBQ sauce?
I could've sworn I'd seen the BK Club somewhere before, like on the actual menu. Maybe I was wrong. Still, one should really not put cheese on chicken. Tomatoes and bacon are one thing, but cheese and chicken just should not go together.
Next, a fave of mine, Chick-Fil-A:
Fried Club - This is their normal club sandwich with the fried chicken substituted for the grilled chicken.
I wasn't aware they even had a grilled chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A (I usually just get their regular chicken sandwich), but then again who doesn't these days? I guess the Fried Club is a way for people who would normally order this grilled chicken sandwich to cheat a bit on their diet.
Next up, Chili's.
Chili – This food is the name sake of the company, so even though it has been off the menu for many years they will still make you a bowl of chili if you request it.
I find it terribly ironic that a place called "Chili's" does not actually serve chili.
Next, PotterCast host John Noe's favorite restaurant, Chipotle:
Chipolte will make you any combination of ingredients they have available to them. Listed below are some of the favorites.
•Nachos - Made with tortilla chips, your choice of salsa and meat, beans, and topped with a layer of cheese.

•Quesadilla - These come in two sizes, the children’s size which is made with two soft taco shells layered with your choice of fillings, or the full size which is a normal burrito tortilla folded in half with your choice of fillings. You can get a side of salsa or sour cream for no additional charge with these.

•Quesorito – A quesadilla with any of the fillings used in a burrito, rolled together and baked in the tortilla warmer. This is a crispier version of a quesadilla.
I find it strange that a Mexican restaurant would not have nachos and quesadillas on their menu, but then again they do mostly focus on burritos at Chipotle. A quesorito actually sounds like it could be good. Another article states that you can also try to get taco salads and single tacos at Chipotle, and that some locations are trying out quesadillas as a regular menu item.
Next, Dairy Queen!
•Chocolate Chip Blizzard - This blizzard sounds like your basic chocolate chip ice cream, but its not. It is made with quick to harden chocolate usually used on the dipping cones.

•Banana Split Blizzard - All your basic banana split flavors blended together into a blizzard.

•Jack and Jill Sundae - A classic sundae with marshmallow and hot fudge.

•Lavender Blue Sundae - This is a blueberry sundae with marshmallow.

•Frozen Hot Chocolate - In some places this is still on the menu seasonally, but basically it is hot chocolate blended with ice to give it a frozen crunch.

•Peanut Buster Parfait - This is a multi level sundae combining fudge, vanilla soft serve, and peanuts.

Naturally, it's all ice cream and frozen drinks. "Frozen Hot Chocolate" sounds like an oxymoron. The Chocolate Chip Blizzard sounds like it's made with Magic Shell (that stuff you can buy at the grocery store that is also "quick to harden chocolate"). Overall though, it sounds like a lot of marshmallow is going on here.

Here's a little coffee item from Dunkin' Donuts:

Turbo Hot Coffee - An extra shot of expresso in your coffee.

Woohoo. I could get that at Starbucks.

Here's a fun one from burger chain Fatburger:

Hypocrite - A veggie burger topped with bacon.

This one made both me and my parents laugh. It's a perfect name - because if you're eating a veggie burger with bacon on it, you are a hypocrite. Good for a inconsistent dieter or vegetarian.

Next we come to the granddaddy of all secret menus: In-n-Out Burger. Now this is not really so secret anymore; it's posted on their website now for goodness' sake. But people in SoCal (where most of the In-n-Out locations are located) have known about this menu for years. Here's the scoop:

•Double Meat – Two beef patties, lettuce, tomato, spread, and bun. You can always order onions either grilled or sliced.

•3 by Meat – Three beef patties, any veggies and sauce you desire with no cheese.

•3 x 3 – Three beef patties, three slices of cheese, veggies and bun.

•2 x 4 – For those who love cheese this is a great option, two meat patties with four slices of cheese.

•4 x 4 – Four beef patties, four slices of cheese, veggies, and a bun. A cure for anyone’s hunger

•Grilled Cheese – 2 Slices of cheese melted with lettuce and tomato and a bun.

•Protein Style – A low carb alternative to any burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun

•Animal Style – A beef patty smothered in mustard before its cooked, with lettuce tomato, pickle, extra spread, and grilled onions.

•Animal Style Fries – Cheese, spread, grilled onions, and pickles piled high on top of fries.

•Flying Dutchman – Two meat patties and two slices of cheese, with nothing else not even a bun.

•Fries Well Done – Fries cooked extra crispy, almost like potato chips.

•Fries Light – Fries cooked less, they will be more tender and oily.

•Neapolitan Shake – Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream blended together into one shake.

•Extra Toast – Buns that have been left on the grill longer until they are extra crispy.

•Veggie Burger / Wish Burger – This burger has no meat or cheese, but lots of grilled onions lettuce and sauce along with double tomatoes.

•Cheese Fries – Fries with a layer of cheese melted on top.

•Untoasted – Any burger with a bun that has not been toasted.

•Mustard Grilled Patty – A burger with mustard spread on it before grilling.

•Chopped Chilies – Diced jalapenos can be added to any burger.

•Large & Extra Large Shakes – Although they are not on the menu they are available upon request.

•100 x 100 Burger – Although they are not on the menu they are available upon request.

You'll notice these are pretty much all burger things, since that's what In-n-Out specializes in. The "Mustard Grilled Patty" sounds gross. The "100 x 100 burger" I can't even imagine eating. The Animal-Style Fries I have seen for myself because my best friend and I went and got them for her boyfriend once. They look kinda gross. The "Flying Dutchman" I could go for since I usually order my burgers plain anyway, though the lack of a bun would be a strange experience. I guess it would work if you wanted to use your own bread (like sourdough; I had a burger on sourdough bread at Bourdin SF a few days after my birthday and it was really good). The rest I can't really comment on.
Next is Jamba Juice. Apparently they have some not-so-healthy hidden drinks. Because Jamba Juice is very tight-lipped about its ingredients for these drinks, we only know the names.
•Pink Starburst

•Raspberry Dreamin’

•Pineapple Dreamin’


•Sourpatch Kid

•Now and Later

•Peanut Butter and Jelly

•Apple Pie

•Fruity Pebbles

•Strawberry Shortcake

•Red Gummy Bear

•White Gummy Bear

•Chocolate Gummy Bear

•Push Pop

I don't go to Jamba Juice (or any juice place) with any regularity, so I really can't say anything about this. The idea of a gummy bear drink sounds good (since I love gummy bears) but then again it might not make a very good drink.
Next, a dish that you can get at KFC and A & W restaurants:
Poutine - This is a Canadian favorite that includes French fries, fried cheese curds, and gravy layered together.
Gravy is something that ought not to go on anything but potatoes. I know, fries are potatoes, but it's not the same. As for fried cheese curds, I've never tried one, but I know what they look like, and I can't imagine combining those with gravy and French fries could taste good.
Here's something from pizza chain Little Caesar's:
Stuffed Crust Pizza - If you ask for it they will make you a pizza with the cheese stuff crust made famous by Pizza Hut.
Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Not to mention that Little Caesar's is probably less expensive than Pizza Hut overall, so you'd probably get a good deal on this.
Next, an amusing item from seafood fast food chain Long John Silver's:
Side of Crumbs - This is a (Free!) box of fried batter parts that have fallen off the fried fish or chicken. Great to put on top of salads.
Now, some people might be surprised that these "crumbs" are actually edible. But they are. I've tried fried chicken crumbs; they're not bad. Now my only concern about this is where they get the crumbs from. I would assume they don't get them from the floor or the trash, though, since that would be a sanitation hazard, something fast food chains (or any food establishments for that matter) desperately want to avoid. But hey, it's free, and if you like salad, it's probably worth your while. It beats croutons.
Next up, the great and mighty McDonald's. I was surprised by the length of this list!
•Biscuits and Gravy - This one may only be available in the South – but it’s the classic combination of gravy smothering hot biscuits.
Again, gravy belongs only with potatoes, really. But they do like their biscuits and gravy in the South.

•McKinley Mac – A big Mac with quarter pounder patties.

Essentially the same thing as the "Big Mac with Quarter Pounder Patties" below.

•Grilled Cheese - A bun grilled with American cheese inside.

No way! They have a grilled cheese sandwich? I want that!

•Big Mac with Quarter Pounder Patties - This is great if you are looking to decrease the cost and calories of the classic Big Mac Sandwich. You get the entire flavor with less meat.

Essentially the same as the "McKinley Mac" above. Now, they make a good point about less meat - generally you want to go for smaller pound amounts of burgers if you have a choice. The Big Mac has two 1.6 oz patties normally.

•All American - This is a normal sized hamburger with only pickles and ketchup.

I'm not sure what's "all-American" about pickles and ketchup.

•Big McChicken - This is a huge sandwich in which the chicken patties replace the bun.

This is interesting. I get the McChicken a lot now because I figure chicken's healthier than beef. Still, the lack of a bun bothers me.

•Fries with Big Mac Sauce - Fries smothered in the secret and special big Mac Sauce.

I don't get why people put anything sauce-like on their fries. (They do this a LOT in Belgium, where the supposedly "French" fry had its beginnings). Anyway, for those who don't know, the secret "Big Mac sauce" has been identified as a variant of Thousand Island dressing. So, yeah, picture having salad dressing on your fries.

•Chicken and Waffles - This is a McGriddle sandwich with chicken in the middle.

Just the name sounds unappetizing. A McGriddle, btw, is basically a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich served on these little pancakes that have maple flavor already in them. Not a bad idea to start off with. But adding chicken? Yeah, not too sure about that.

•Neopolitan Milk Shake - 1/3 vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice creams blended together into one shake.

You'll notice above that In-n-Out offers this too. I've never seen a McDonald's with strawberry ice cream though.
•McLeprichon - This shake is only available in March and is composed of the shamrock shake mixed with the chocolate shake making a mint chocolate shake.

Mmm this sounds good.

•Pie McFlurry - If you purchase a pie you can have it blended into your McFlurry.

Hm, I wonder if my dad knows this; he actually likes the pies at McDonald's. They don't have a big selection of pies at McDonald's (I think just apple and cherry) but still it's a good idea.

•McGangBang - This is a double cheeseburger with a chicken patty in between the two beef patties.

First of all, the name is really bad. Second of all, a double cheeseburger WITH chicken in there too? That just seems like too much meat. It would probably top the Big Mac in size.

•Land, Sea, and Air Burger - The Land, Sea, and Air burger, has a beef patty, chicken patty, and fillet-o-fish patty all piled high onto a bun.

This is an even worse idea than the McGangBang. Beef, chicken, AND fish. Yeah, wayyy too much going on there.

•Root Beer Float - You can pick any size of root beer and they will add the vanilla ice cream on top.

Do they even have root beer at McDonald's? I guess so.

•Coke Float - Any size of coke with ice cream. You can even get it with chocolate ice cream.

Ooh, sounds good.

•Monster Mac - A big Mac composed of 8 meat patties.

Dang, isn't a regular Big Mac enough? This is like the Big Mac times four. It does not sound good for you at all.
•2 Cheese Burger Meal Mac - Two cheese burgers, fries and a drink.
Otherwise known as combo #2 on your typical McDonald's lunch/dinner menu.
Moving Popeye's Chicken!
Naked – Any Popeyes sandwich you can order “naked”, meaning their will be no breading on the meat.
Breading is kinda a big part of what makes fried chicken fried chicken, though the average person is probably better off not eating all that breading anyway. KFC proved it could be done with their grilled chicken.
Next a place called Potbelly's, apparently a sandwich chain:
•Cheeseburger – This is a meatball sandwich with ketchup replacing the marinara and the addition of mustard, cheese, and pickles.

•Fireball – A meatball sandwich with chili on top.

•Wrecking ball – A combination of both the meatball sandwich and the wreck sandwich.
Sounds like basically variations on one sandwich (or maybe two with the Wrecking ball). Not sure what to say here.
Next up, the famous drive-in place Sonic:
•Frito Pie - This is a southern favorite with layers of chili and fritos.

•Grilled Ham and Cheese - This is your basic warm gooey ham and cheese sandwich.
Ok, the Frito thing is just SO wrong. Fritos are not even that good. As for the second one, I've already said how I dislike ham and cheese.
Next up -- the mighty Starbucks!
With the large variety of different Starbucks franchises it is important to know what’s in any hidden menu drink you order. Many should know these options however, since they are not all the same just remember the ingredients in case they do not know and they will be happy to make the drink for you.

•Biscotti Frapuccino - This is a typical frapuccino but it has a biscotti blended inside. You will have to purchase the biscotti separate when you are checking out, but you can have it in any flavor frap.

•Short Drink - This is a less expensive version of any Starbucks drink. It is smaller than a tall with a lower price.

•Red Eye - This is a shot of espresso in regular drip coffee.

•Black Eye - This drink has 2 shots of espresso in regular drip coffee.

•Green Eye - This drink includes 3 shots of espresso in regular drip coffee.

•Poor Mans Latte - We recommend you do not tell your Barista you are planning on creating this drink when you order. Order an iced Americano with no water and half ice, then use the free milk on the side to mix it up to your standards.

•Poor Mans Chai Latte - Same recommendation as above applies here. Order a Chai Tea Misto with extra foam, two tea bags, and half cinnamon and half vanilla syrup.

•French Pressed Coffee - If you want coffee served fresh from a French press you may have it with any variety in the shop.

•Chocolate Cream Frapuccino - This is a frapuccino made with chocolate syrup and chocolate frapuccino base.

•Cake Batter Frap - Order a vanilla frappucino and ask for both the vanilla bean and almond flavorings. It will taste just like cake batter.

•Crunchberry Frap - Flavored like the crunchberry cereal, this is a strawberrys and cream frappucino with hazelnut flavoring.

•Strawberry Blended Lemonade - Although this had been taken off the menu, most locations will still blend the strawberry flavoring with lemonade for you.

•London Fog - This is made with vanilla flavoring in Earl Gray Tea.

•Zebra Mocha (also called a Tuxedo or Penguin Mocha) - This is a mix of the white chocolate and regular chocolate mochas.

•Red Tux Mocha (also called Bleeding Penguin) - The same mix of white chocolate and regular chocolate mocha with raspberry flavoring.
Now, I am not a coffee fan and do not usually go to Starbucks. But that there are this many secret drinks says something about the ones you can normally order. I like the "poor man's latte" one; I've known about that for a while. I also was not aware there was a size smaller than Tall. But it makes sense.
Next, Subway:
Pizza Sub – This sub was taken of the menu in most locations when Subway began marketing itself as healthy alternative to fast food. However, upon request you can get the Pizza Sub which combines cheese, tomato sauce, and pepperoni.
I actually remember when this was on the menu. Of course, the whole Jared thing - and probably their painfully obvious sponsorship deal with The Biggest Loser - forced Subway, much like Jamba Juice, to market itself as healthy.
Next, Taco Bell:
Cheesy Gordita Crunch – This is a seasonal favorite for many, however it can be ordered year round.

•Green Sauce – Although this sauce is still available in most South West locations, if you request it at your local restaurant usually they will have it on hand.

•Double Grilled Quesadilla – An extra crispy quesadilla.

•Chili Cheese Burrito – A burrito filled with chili and cheese instead of the usual mixes.

•Enchirito – This is a enchilada of beef, beans, cheese, diced onions, and red sauce.
I think they actually have some of this stuff at my local Taco Bells - they definitely have the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, though only seasonally. The name "enchirito" reminds me of the "chimirito" named by Ron Stoppable of Kim Possible as a menu item at Bueno Nacho in "The Naked Mole Rap." (I think Bueno Nacho is meant to be a sort of spoof of Taco Bell anyway. Which reminds me, it would be awesome to have a ringtone of that cool guitar riff that plays whenever the establishing shot of Bueno Nacho is shown. I should hunt that music down).
Next, some place called Taco John's:
Ranch Burrito - We’re not certain what exactly is in the ranch burrito, however it appears to have either a beef or chicken option.
Ok that wasn't very helpful.
Moving on to my old workplace, Wendy's!
•Grand Slam - This burger has a total of four meat patties.

•Big Bacon Classic - This is your classic burger with bacon.

•Value Crispy Chicken Club – A reduced price Crispy Chicken sandwich with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

•Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe – This value sized burger includes lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and ketchup.

•Barnyard – A spicy chicken sandwich with ham, bacon and beef separated by cheese.
Since I used to work at Wendy's, I can definitely comment on these. They still did have the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe and the Big Bacon Classic on the menu when I worked there, however they have made changes to the menu since then. The Value chicken sandwich doesn't surprise me - one thing I do like about Wendy's is that they do have cheap burgers/sandwiches you can get (like the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe and this sandwich) that are good alternatives for the big, more expensive combo sandwiches. No one really matches Wendy's in terms of value menu stuff, except maybe McDonald's with their Dollar Menu. The Barnyard I've never heard of, though again UGH HAM AND CHEESE. Trust me, the Spicy Chicken Sandwich is just fine by itself. The Grand Slam I've also not heard of - Wendy's usually draws the line at three patties on a sandwich, as with the regular Triple Burger or with the Baconator Triple. Honestly, I don't see why you would need four patties, thank you very much.
I don't think I ever had the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe, though it's a nice choice if you just want a cheap, basic burger. The Big Bacon Classic I can definitely recommend, though the Baconator (which IS on the menu) is more or less the same thing.
Ok, last one! White Castle:
Seasoned Fries - Classic fries with additional seasoning for flavor.
Wow. I'm impressed. Seasoned fries, what a concept!
Ok, I got that analysis out of my system. Going to go to bed now.

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