My partner is a fan of fried chicken, he eats chicken almost every day, and has it deep fried 2-3 times a week. Therefore when “Popeyes”, the Louisiana style chicken and fast food restaurant opened up, he wanted to see if he found a new place to enjoy his favourite protein, his favourite way. And to see how well this new edition to Port Coquitlam stacked stacked up against his favourites.
With it just recently opening, and online food publications doing a great job to promote this import from across the border, the restaurant was busy. It was 8:30pm on a Tuesday and the line wrapped around itself. Despite how many employees were behind the counter and how fast they worked, people continue to join the back of the line, thus it didn’t look like it was actually moving. And seeing as there wasn’t a drive through window, despite patrons taking their chicken home in boxes and styrofoam wrapped in paper and bagged in plastic, it was still tightly packed within.
But once you ordered and pay, your entire meal comes out pretty quick. But then there is the challenge of wanting to eat in and there not being enough tables for the high surge of people wanting to dine in too. This made our turn to sit and dine less enjoyable with groups hovering around, in order to be the first to sit after we get up.
We decided to try a variety of things to get a full assessment of this popular chain, for our very first taste. Three combos with our choice of three sides to go with it. The side options we didn’t choose were mashed potatoes, coleslaw, herbed beans and rice, corn on the cob, and cajun poutine.
I considered the cajun poutine, which would have cost me more as an “upgraded” side, only to learn that it is just cajun seasonings over your standard gravy and cheese over fries. Although it would have been nice to try their gravy as it is only available as part of the above or over mashed potatoes. They didn’t offer cups of it on the side for dipping, or maybe I just missed out the opportunity to get it as such.
Just as well, the fries were nice enough that you wanted to taste them. They didn’t stay crispy for long, nor were they the kind that you go back for more of. They simply had their own flavour with their special mix of cajun spices, and offered up nice breaks from everything else. Especially when enjoyed with some tangy ketchup, to help change the taste of your palate.
The fries were the side to their “Deluxe chicken sandwich”. Creole, cajun, or deluxe were your burger options. It was so loud that we couldn’t hear our clerk behind the counter when she explained to us the differences. The sandwich was centred around their breaded white meat chicken breast, a garlicky aioli, lettuce, and tomato, all on a chewy Portuguese bun. The chicken was was crunchy, you could taste the quality of the meat being used, with some lingering spice to it.
We had more of their chicken as is in their “3 piece combo”. All dark meat. The thigh, drum, and wing, each still steaming hot through and through. But whereas the thigh was good and the drum juicy, the wing sad and small. The seasoning doesn’t taste like any other, and again they used great quality chicken here too. Juicy meat hiding under a robe of crunchy goodness. I considered it good fried chicken, but not something I could only get from them. There are other fried chicken options out there, similar in quality, that I couldn’t get else where, more conveniently. The seasoning in the batter didn’t stand out enough to crave again, and just as well, as I wouldn’t travel the distance for it any how.
For its side we had some onion rings. They were crispy with a good amount of batter. Better than many other fast food restaurant’s attempts.
Sadly, I didn’t know that each combo comes with a biscuit, so I ordered one additional. They were buttery, you bit in and it flaked under the pressure. Cheesy and cakey, best enjoyed warm.
For our last combo we had their popcorn shrimp, because no other fast food chain offers such a thing on their menu. Sadly what I imagined, wasn’t the reality. The shrimp were tiny. So little meat that you get a 1:1 ratio of breading and shrimp, whereas you wanted more juiciness from a thick curl of shrimp. It was like eating bits of deep fried batter. No real taste on its own, luckily you get your choice of dips to accompany it. Tartar, buttermilk ranch, blackened ranch, Mardi Gras mustard, Sweet heat, barbecue, bayou BBQ, or cocktail sauce. I got the mustard and was surprised by how strong it was, enough had me feeling it’s zestiness in my nasal passages.
Here, we paired it with the most bland Mac and cheese I have ever had, based on its unappealing taste, I think they use American cheese that has no sharpness to it. The noodles were also cover-cooked, to the point that the elbow macaroni was swollen and too soft. The creaminess of it was nice, and at least it was helpful as a neutral base. A scoop with the spork to have in between bites of deep fry and salt.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Glad to have tried the buzz, and glad we got enough of the menu to give it a fair assessment. So in conclusion I can confidently say “Popeyes” did not make it on to my list of favourite fast food joints, nor it is one I would go out of my way to visit again, even if they opened a location closer to me. Don’t deny your cravings.
110–2190 Hawkins Street, Port Coquitlam BC, V3B 0G6