"Restaurant" Review -- White Castle

- wadE

During my drive home from work for the past couple of months I kept hearing this commercial for the new Variety Pack at White Castle. Why White Castle is putting commercials on AM radio in the middle of the day is beyond me. Wouldn't you think they would focus all of their ad dollars on the midnight-2AM time slots? That's the time you are most likely to visit a White Castle. You've had a few beers, maybe one too many, and you're hungry. You flip on the radio and hear the ad for a Variety Pack...suddenly it sounds like a good idea.

But maybe the ads do work since the other day I decided at 4 in the afternoon, while sober, that it might be a good idea. It's been years since I've been to White Castle, even longer since I've been to White Castle while sober. So I thought I would check it out.

Apparently 4:45 is prime time at White Castle. The drive through was packed! If you are familiar with the White Castle in Hopkins, you'll understand why I didn't just park and go in. It's a looooong drive thru with a curb on both sides. Before I could back out, another car pulled in behind me and I was trapped. It took 20 minutes to go through that lineup of cars and get my "food". 20 minutes!!! White Castle!!! Middle of the day!!!

Anyway, when I finally get up to order I notice that the Variety Pack contains one each of the following:

Bacon Cheeseburger
Jalapeño Cheeseburger
Fish Sandwich
Chicken Sandwich

What's missing is the Chicken Ring Sandwich. It's the only thing on their menu of sandwiches not in the Variety Pack, so I ordered one of the too. Might as well do a full review, right? I also pondered getting a sack of fries, which are the only thing from White Castle that I would actually call "good", but figured I'd have my hands (and stomach) full with 7 sandwiches.

Since after ordering I couldn't move for about 5 minutes I had plenty of time to stare at the menu. I started wondering to myself, "Has anyone ever gone to White Castle for breakfast? Maybe that should be my next article..."; but then I started looking at the prices of the various items. A hamburger is still fairly cheap at 59 cents. But the Chicken Sandwich is well over a buck, which seems quite expensive for a sandwich that is about 8 cubic inches (2x2x2). So I did the math and realized that by purchasing the Variety Pack, instead of each sandwich individually, I saved a whopping 7 cents! Instead of $4.96, I was buying those 6 sandwiches together for $4.89!

How do people work at White Castle? Is it like working at a landfill, or a sewage treatment plant? Do you just eventually get used to the smell. When I got to the drive thru window, and it opened, BAM! It was like being punched in the face. That's the point that even after a long night of drinking, you get to the window at White Castle and that smell hits you, and you think to yourself "maybe this wasn't such a good idea." If you've never been, it's hard to describe the smell. And actually, if you've never been you should be aware that the hamburgers at White Castle aren't grilled... they aren't fried, they aren't even baked... they're steamed. Yes, steamed. So imagine the smell of boiling beef, coupled with deep fryers that haven't been emptied and cleaned in months. That's the smell. It's appetizing, yet revolting at the same time.

Finally, I get my sack o' food and head home. Let's see what I've got here.

Harold and Kumar??? Oh yeah, that really stupid looking movie with the Asian dude from American Pie and the guy who looks like M. Night Shyamalan's brother. I'm thinking White Castle doesn't get too many offers for movie tie-ins. Me thinks they'll be milking this for awhile.

Let's get these boys out of the bag.

Or from above...

Mmmmmm-mmmmm! That looks like good eatin'! Going from left to right: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Jalapeño Cheeseburger, Fish Sandwich, Chicken Sandwich, and Chicken Ring Sandwich. Let's begin.

The Hamburger

Wow, looking back now, I can't believe I ate that. Of course at the time I had skipped lunch and was pretty damn hungry. Anyway, the hamburger was relatively tasteless. When you take a bite the mix of the dry bun and wet/greasy burger turn to dough in your mouth. There isn't much on a slider to lube it up, just shreds of onion like substance and a pickle. The pickle is the saving grace, if you like pickles, the hamburger is edible.

The Cheeseburger

What can you say... Is it more disturbing to see the relief image of the pickle in the cheese, or is it more disturbing to find some strange brown spot hiding under you bun? What is that? When did White Castle start adding condiments to their burgers? At least I assume it's a condiment. It tasted somewhat like mustard. Like White Castle's own version of Grey Poupon...actually, let's not even think about that. Anyway, the cheese and mystery sauce at least keep the burger from turning into dough in your mouth. Better than the hamburger, but that's not saying much.

The Bacon Cheeseburger

What a sad, sad bacon cheeseburger. Thankfully there was no mystery sauce on this burger. After folding the slice of bacon to fit under the bun, I took a bite with high hopes. It was better than the cheeseburger, however the bacon was stringy and overcooked; and what happened to the pickle?!? While an improvement on the cheeseburger, I wasn't looking forward to finishing this burger. Time to break out the emergency ketchup.

The Jalapeño Cheeseburger

The Jalapeño burger looks like a cheeseburger with the flu. The cheese is a very pale yellow color, and doesn't have any pepper specks in it like most slices of Jalapeño cheese do. Again, there is no sauce, but with the Jalapeño burger the pickle is also noticeably absent. The sandwich was surprisingly spicy, and doughy. The Jalapeño cheese really sticks to your mouth. Easily the best sandwich so far, and you get a cute little sticker on your sandwich box.

We now move from the "beef" portion of the meal to the fish and chicken sandwiches.

The Fish Sandwich

How half-assed are the people who work at White Castle? I don't expect them to use rulers and a level to get my sandwich in perfect geometric harmony, but at least get the piece of fish on the damn bun!

This sandwich vaguely tastes like fish. It's like a poor man's version of the Filet-O-Fish, minus the tartar sauce, which this sandwich needs badly. Since I was taking my time with each sandwich, before eating each one I popped it in the microwave for 10 seconds to quickly reheat. The fish sandwich may have come off a bit less flavorful since most of the cheese was left in the box.

Mmmmmm... plastic cheese...halalamph </Homer>

To no one's surprise, I am beginning to get full... and a bit nauseous.

The Chicken Sandwich

Not bad... not bad at all. Could use some BBQ sauce (definetly not that nasty brown mystery sauce from the cheeseburger though) but this was a decent sandwich. It's also the most expensive, coming in around $1.39. The chicken was tasty, and looked to be actual white meat.

The Chicken Ring Sandwich

Ah, the good old chicken ring sandwich. There is only one part of the chicken that's shaped like that. Oh, the neck? Jeez, I didn't even think about that...ok, two parts of the chicken shaped like that!

Anyway, my chicken ring sandwich came with two bottom buns, which was somehow fitting. I especially like that the "top" bottom bun had an imprint of the ring on it, forming a small mountain of bun. The chicken ring sandwich used to be the only safe haven for a late night run to White Castle. Even if the rings aren't white meat, they at least prevented you from buying a sack of 10 sliders and paying for it the next day.

So there you have it. All 7 sandwiches. So let's recap what I got for my six bucks:

Calories Fat
Hamburger 140 7
Cheeseburger 160 9
no info
probably same as
200 13
Fish Sandwich 180 7
190 8
Chicken Ring
180 8
TOTAL 1210 54

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go schedule my angioplasty.

- 08/10/2004


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