Italian Pesto Chicken Sandwich at McDonald’s

McDonald'sLocation: 5310 Dixie Road, Mississauga
Websitehttps://www.mcdonalds.ca

Next stop on the World Taste Tour: Italy, with the Italian Pesto Chicken Sandwich.  This is a McChicken patty topped with a pesto aioli sauce, shaved parmesan, arugula, and tomato.  It’s served on a “toasted focaccia bun sprinkled with rosemary.”

It’s actually not bad.  It’s definitely a lot better than the Chinese Szechuan Burger, and probably about on the same level as the French Creme Brulee McFlurry.

Like with the Szechuan Burger, the biggest issue here is with the meat itself.

McDonald's

The chicken patty is what it is.  It’s spongy, salty, ultra-processed, and has about as much resemblance to an actual piece of chicken as a Hyundai has to a Ferrari.  They’re in the same general ballpark, but they’re really not the same thing.

It’s junk, but then anyone walking through the doors of a McDonald’s knows exactly what they’re going to get.  Again: it is what it is.  It’s fine.

And everything else was pretty good.  The pesto aioli sauce has a surprisingly vibrant pesto flavour, and the shaved parmesan isn’t bad at all.  Parmesan, pesto, and peppery arugula are a boffo combination, and McDonald’s doesn’t mess it up.  The whole thing is aggressively salty, but other than that it tastes pretty good.

There wasn’t much rosemary flavour from the bun, but it was fresh, hearty, and a little bit chewy.  It suited the sandwich nicely.

The Diner House 29

The Diner House 29 in St. Catherines, OntarioI watch a ridiculous amount of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  It isn’t often that I go to a restaurant that feels like it would fit in on that show (we just don’t seem to have a lot of restaurants like that in the GTA).  But Guy would be right at home at the Diner House 29 in St. Catherines.

There were a few things on the menu that caught my eye, but I went with Porky’s Revenge: “Roasted Pork Belly on a Toasted Bagel Bun with 2 Fried Eggs, House-made Onion Chutney,  Niagara-Peach Mayo & Monterey Jack.”

The Diner House 29 in St. Catherines, Ontario

Pork belly is one of those trendy ingredients that’s popped up on pretty much every menu over the last several years.  But I still have a hard time saying no to it.

And the version here is good.  I have a friend who teases me over the use of the word “unctuous,” because it’s one of those words that really isn’t in a normal person’s vocabulary.  It’s pretty much exclusive to food nerds/writers/bloggers (see also: mouthfeel).

That being said, this sandwich was unctuous AF.  Between the rich, fatty pork belly, the runny yolk from the eggs, the mayo, and the gooey cheese, the sandwich screams unctuous.  There’s really no other word to describe it.

The Diner House 29 in St. Catherines, Ontario

And yet it wasn’t too rich.  The sweet chutney helps to balance things out, and the flavours all work so well together that it never seems one-note.

The bagel bun was quite dense, with a very crispy exterior.  It would have been too much for your average sandwich, but there was so much going on here that the hearty bun was just right.

My biggest issue is that the sandwich is so overstuffed and slippery that as soon as I picked it up, it immediately started to fall apart.  I panicked, took a quick bite, then set the sandwich down and proceeded to eat the rest with a fork and knife.

The Diner House 29 in St. Catherines, Ontario

The sandwich comes with a salad, soup, or potatoes on the side.  I got the rice, beans, and pesto soup; it was absolutely crammed with stuff and had a satisfying pesto flavour.  It was hearty and tasty.

Panera Bread

Panera Bread - Pesto Sacchettini
Location: 197 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
Website: http://www.panerabread.com/

One thing I like about Panera Bread is that its Canadian and American menus seem to be pretty consistent.  A lot of times there’ll be an interesting item introduced on the menu at a fast food joint, only for it never to materialize here in Canada (like KFC’s boneless chicken, McDonald’s Egg White Delight McMuffin, or Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos, among many others).

Panera Bread, on the other hand, seems to actually let Canadians try its new menu items, which is nice.

The latest thing at Panera is pasta.  They’ve got Tortellini Alfredo, Pesto Sacchettini, and Rustic Penne Bolognese.   I went with the Sacchettini, which is described as a “purse-like pasta filled with six cheeses.” Pesto?  Six different cheeses?  Sign me up.

There’s a choice between small and large, and though the small initially seems comically undersized, it’s actually fairly heavy and a good amount for lunch.

It’s not bad.  It is, as advertised, quite cheesy, and the generous amount of pesto clinging to each Sacchettini gives it a good amount of flavour.

It was, however, unevenly hot in the way that only food that has been quickly microwaved gets.  It’s also pretty much the opposite of al dente, with pasta that is disconcertingly close to Chef Boyardee in the texture department.

It comes with either a soup or a salad.  I got the Classic Salad, which is dressed with a passable balsamic vinaigrette.  It complimented the pasta fairly well; the occasional bite of the vinegary salad helped to cut the richness of the oily, cheesy pasta (and the pasta is definitely not kidding around with the oiliness — when I finished, there was a pretty substantial pool of oil at the bottom of the bowl).

It’s not bad, but at the price I don’t know how heartily I can recommend it.  I got it with a lemonade to drink, and it came up to almost 15 bucks, which is kind of absurd for the caliber of food you’re getting.

Panera Bread - Pesto Sacchettini Panera Bread - Pesto Sacchettini Panera Bread - Pesto Sacchettini