the first time I tried them (at the Carl's in Hastings Ranch) they were delicious: crispy, juicy, and literally too hot to handle. The second time I tried them, as an excuse to try out the "Kickin' Asian Sweet & Spicy Sauce" (at the location on Lake Ave) they were terrible: shriveled, burnt, and barely lukewarm.
The owner of that location emailed me and offered me a free meal as an apology, but I never responded. There are only so many meals you can eat in a lifetime, you know? Repeated meals of Double Doubles, dim sum, pizza, Belgian fries, Bald Eagle, lobster rolls, prime steaks... these are all understandable. But I just didn't feel the need to return and eat chicken tenders that had previously been terrible. Even for free.
Besides, I'm not a big fan of Carl's Jr. anyway. If I listed my favorite fast food chains, Carl's would be a lot closer to the bottom than to places like In-N-Out, Fatburger, Del Taco, and Popeyes, where I almost always enjoy my meal. (I believe I have a 100% satisfaction rate in what have literally been hundreds of meals at In-N-Out.) So I let it go. The only two times I have eaten at Carl's in 2011 were trying the turkey burger when it first came out and trying the habanero bacon cheeseburger in Orange County. Both were bad.
Yesterday I read about Carl's newest concept: hand-breaded chicken, this time in fillet form, in a sandwich. I do love a good fried chicken sandwich. I doubted Carl's take on it could be anywhere near as good as Church's fantastic Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, but still I thought it would be worth a shot. Especially once I printed out a $1-off coupon from the Carl's Jr. website - knocking the pre-tax price down from $4.29 to $3.29
With the coupon, it is barely worth it. At the full $4.29 price, it is not. The Church's sandwich was $1.99 and was bigger, much more flavorful, and served on a soft, fresh bun.
If I'm on a stretch of highway somewhere and Carl's Jr. is the only fast food place, I would get one of these chicken fillet sandwiches again, and I would not be too upset about that. Barring that, I do not envision any scenario in which I will ever eat one again. When it comes to fried chicken sandwiches, there are just way too many better options around.