I had blogged about an experience at the Chicken Manor Family Restaurant prior to this. At the time I had praised the restaurant for a very good fish dinner with some unusual, but tasty side dishes. So it was with little trepidation that I returned several Fridays ago to again experience the tasty food. Unfortunately, this time I didn't get the cute waiter I had last time. That should've been my tip-off that things were going to be amiss.
Even though I did go on a Friday night, I decided to try something else on the menu. Having not had any of their pasta dishes, I decided to go with the chicken parmesan. This came with a garlic breadstick and a garden salad. Here is my salad with a side of French dressing:
Pretty standard house garden salad. The surprising addition was a little bit of pickled beets. I daresay I may actually have started becoming fond of the much-maligned little suckers. I don't think I could sit down and eat an entire can, but used sparingly, it wasn't bad at all. The rest of the salad was pretty standard, nothing special.
Next came the chicken parmesan:
A couple of things to note. First, as usual, the pasta had a layer of cooking water underneath it, but not as bad as some other versions that I've had. Second, the chicken breast in question was grilled, not breaded and fried. I tried the sauce first, and while it was definitely a marinara, it had sort of an oddish flavor to it that I couldn't quite put my hand on. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It had a "doctored sauce" kind of flavor to it that wasn't intensely tomato-y. The harder thing to forgive was the chicken itself. The breast was all of one thickness and when I tried the chicken, it had that intense chemical flavor profile that a Wendy's chicken breast sandwich has (the non-fried version). It was quite off-putting.
Finally, there was the garlic breadstick:
I don't think this breadstick ever saw even a single clove of actual garlic in its entire life. It had an awful metallic aftertaste to it that really played havoc with my taste buds. Between this and the nasty chicken breast, I wondered how a place that had done so much right before could be this completely off the mark on a different dish.
Unfortunately, I never had a chance to confirm with my server that the chicken was pre-processed instead of fresh; they were completely slammed at the time. If I go back (and I will probably try it once more before passing final judgment), I will definitely ask then. I suspect they get the breasts 24 to a box, pre-processed and marinating in something that is just nasty.