Wendy’s on Monday began serving its new breakfast menu in a debut that was preceded by hype worthy of a blockbuster movie. The fast-food chain’s famously salty Twitter feed had for weeks been trolling its rivals’ morning menus in anticipation, and the company even lit up a Times Square billboard with images of its new lineup and its tagline, “You up for this?”
We, of course, were. To see if all that Wendy’s swagger was warranted, we gathered a few fast-food-loving colleagues and ate our way through as much of the new menu as we could.
First, we kicked the tires of the sides, starting with the seasoned potatoes. The small wedges — bigger than a french fry but not home-fry-style cubes — were pleasantly pepper-flecked and plenty crispy. Some tasters found the Frosty-ccinos (the chain’s Frosty shakes combined with cold-brew coffee) cloyingly sweet, but others liked the chocolate version (it also comes in vanilla, which was universally disliked “way too creamy — like it’s just a lot of half-and-half”).
And then it was on to the main event, the reason we had gathered early in the morning, before work, in a basement food court: those sandwiches. Wendy’s offers nine varieties and we made it to five, getting recommendations from the cashiers, who pointed to their own favorites and the ones that have so far proved popular. Our verdict? Overall, they’re a reason to set your alarm. Here’s what we think:
Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant
The first sandwich we pulled out of the paper sack to sample was an out-of-the-gate hit. The chicken patty was juicy, and the sweetness of the maple butter was balanced by the savory, salty bacon. “I’m getting a very chicken-and-waffle vibe,” said one taster. The croissant encasing it was softer and more pillowy than the flaky variety you’d find at a Parisian patisserie, but we liked that the texture didn’t fight the crisp bacon.
Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit
This was the only miss of the bunch — which was unexpected, because it is one of the sandwiches Wendy’s has been touting the most (the chain even hyped the debut by offering a free one with any other breakfast purchase). We liked the chicken itself, which seemed to be the same patty used in the chicken-maple version, but found the biscuit flabby and the honey flavor almost undetectable. It earned the only “meh” of the morning.
Bacon Egg and Swiss Croissant
This concoction was the messiest of the bunch, and the ooze of mayo-looking sauce wasn’t the most visually appealing at first inspection. But when we dug in, it turned out that we dug the flavor that the “creamy Swiss cheese sauce” brought to the game. “Hollandaise-ish,” was how one colleague described it. And Wendy’s boast about its freshly cracked eggs is warranted — the layer of egg, with its lacy edges, looked like something that might have slid off a grandmom’s griddle, and not a factory conveyor belt.
Just listing the components that make up the breakfast edition of Wendy’s signature burger is a serious mouthful: sausage, a buffet’s worth of bacon, American cheese, two eggs and more of the Swiss sauce. Biting into it is no different — and at least in this case, it seems that more really is more. “There’s a lot happening here and I’m not mad about it,” said one taster. The sausage got good reviews for its spicy kick and its substantial thickness. The meat bomb played the starring role, meaning we didn’t even notice the reappearance of the Swiss sauce, which served more as a binding agent to hold the layers together.
You’ll need to come at this one hungry — or hurting. “This would be good for a hangover,” a taster suggested.
Classic Sausage Egg and Cheese Sandwich
There’s nothing showy about this guy, but he’s still a solid option. The sandwich bun had just the right amount of chew without being tough, and the simple sausage-egg-cheese combination it held was elevated by the quality of its parts: the patty we had admired in the Baconator got more of a starring role this time, and those eggs again had us admiring their “homey” looks.
McDonald’s Egg McMuffin
For contrast’s sake, we also sampled McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, the reigning king of breakfast sandwiches, alongside the new Wendy’s items. The Golden Arches eatery clearly knows that Wendy’s is gunning for it: The market-dominating chain began offering free McMuffins this week in an apparent bid to preserve its a.m. domination. And in the lead-up to its breakfast debut, Wendy’s Twitter feed took on the iconic sandwich, posting an image of a grave labeled “RIP Egg McMuffin” with the caption “here lies mediocrity.”
And after tasting the classic, we unanimously sided with Wendy’s in this breakfast battle. Most obviously, the McMuffin’s eggs were clearly inferior to those of its new rival. Their texture was spongy and they appeared uncannily — and unnaturally — puck-shaped. The layer of Canadian bacon didn’t bring much flavor to the concoction, either, especially in contrast to Wendy’s plump, zippy sausage patties. “I haven’t had this in a really long time, and it’s not as good as I remembered,” one taster lamented.
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