Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sam Sifton Reviews the "Double Down"

With all the fuss made over New York Times critic Sam Sifton sampling the latest fast food monstrosity, KFC's "Double Down" (he previewed his intentions last Friday, leading Eater to set up spies at every Manhattan KFC to catch him in the act), I was sorely disappointed that the result was a mere Diner's Journal entry, rather than a full-fledged review in true Sifton-speak. So I wrote my own.

The men in the navy blazers, with their silk rep ties and their Jansport knapsacks, don't come here often. In fact, they never come here at all, and have to look up the address on their Blackberries. The food-obsessed will debate the finer points of the various other fried chicken offerings of Gotham, from Blue Ribbon or Locanda Verde, the two different styles of oil-bathed hen at Momofuku Noodle Bar, or the Korean fried chicken at Bon Chon that I think Jonathan Gold would really like if he came here. Not KFC.

But know this: a new dish is being served at KFC, and it's the "Double Down." KFC once was known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, just like KRS-One once used to be known as Lawrence Parker. You can still get your bucket of Original Recipe or your Extra Crispy here, or even the newer-fangled Colonel's Strips. But if you want to simultaneously provide free publicity for some appalling new fast food product, while still lording your own superiority, it is the "Double Down" you should order.

The sandwich contains no bread save for the breading on the chicken, which is fried and comes in two bread-like slabs. Between these a KFC worker places a slice of white American-style cheese, a piece of crisp-fired bacon, and a splat of "Colonel's sauce," a kind of mayonnaise. The sandwich, KFC says in its advertising materials, "is so meaty, there's no room for a bun." It's Festivus for fat kids.

You may have your Double Down in the restaurant, with its open kitchen, white subway tiled walls, and festive balloons, but this time of year it is better to do like the men in the baseball hats do, and bring your sandwich outside to eat among the tulips, on a seat on Broadway just north of Greeley Square. Keep it in the bag, so as to discourage the hordes of cannibalistic pigeons who may otherwise descend, to say nothing of the geek paparazzi lurking in the bushes.

The sandwich? The chicken is watery within its soft casing of "crust," the cheese familiar to anyone who has eaten food prepared by the United States government, the bacon chemical in its smokiness, the mayonnaise sauce tangy, salty, and sweet, all at once. It offers exactly the same sensation as a menage a trois with a couple of toothless carnies - a bolt of greasiness and disgust combined. To drink? You will want the Pepsi, which was, as Pepsi is, more sweet than Coke, more syrupy.

Restaurants are culture as sure as monster truck rallies or reality TV shows. This one says: "You are going to be sick shortly after eating this - even worse than after you ate the entire pig's foot at the Breslin." The "Double Down," as the New York expression goes, is "blech."

1 comment:

  1. Very nice review. I still am in shock that the idea of this "sandwich" became a reality. But as the saying goes, 'give the people what they want'.