Friday, June 22, 2012
Popeyes Zatarain's Butterfly Shrimp: My Farewell To Popeyes
My annual reviews of Popeyes Crawfish Festival - in which I have called Popeyes crawfish perhaps the best fast food item I have ever eaten - have been viewed more than 10,000 times. I recently praised Popeyes to a reporter from the Wall Street Journal. I have called Popeyes Delta Sauce my favorite fast food condiment.
In short, I have sung the praises of Popeyes for many years and to many people.
And now I'm done with the place.
To avoid making this into one long Yelp review - where I call a place the worst restaurant ever and swear on a bible that I will never return because of one particular slight - I'll share some of the other problems I've had with Popeyes lately. The portions - including those of my beloved crawfish po' boy - get smaller every year. I have not been able to find the aforementioned Delta Sauce in over one year. With the exception of Wendy's, I find that no fast food chain is as consistently filthy as Popeyes' locations.
But none of those things are the straw that broke the camel's back. It's the fact that they constantly advertise their promotions without having the promotions ready, most specifically the sauce. I've written, many times, of the propensity of Popeyes to release a product promising some new and delicious-sounding sauce and then not having that sauce. It's the rule, not the exception with Popeyes. Other people agree with me - these are culled from comments over the years:
"Dang if my location didnt have the sauce either"
"No dipping sauce at all... We were VERY disappointed!"
"It has been my experience in recent years that Popeye's almost never has their promotional sauces in store no matter where you are. It's weird and frustrating."
"I got totally jipped! No Tabasco bottle for me."
Once, someone from the company wrote me in a half-hearted attempt to explain why they so often do not have the sauces, something about "underestimating consumer demand," which sounds great but does nothing to explain why the sauces aren't available at the beginning of the promotion. I'm not talking about running out of sauce; I'm talking about never having it in the first place.
So when I learned recently that Popeyes would be releasing a new butterfly shrimp, calling it "Zatarain's Butterfly Shrimp," and serving the crustaceans alongside a lemon garlic sauce, I intended to try it, as long as I found a location with the sauce.
Yesterday I was out for a walk and saw the sign in the window of my local Popeyes. I walked in and was asked what I would like.
"I want to try the new Zatarain's shrimp," I said, "but only if you have the lemon garlic dipping sauce."
"We do," she told me.
So I ordered it, paid, and after a short wait, perhaps only 30 seconds, the same girl started to hand me the bag.
"Is the sauce in there?" I asked.
"What kind do you want?"
"I want the lemon garlic sauce," I said, puzzled. We had just discussed this 45 seconds earlier.
"We don't have that yet," she said with a smirk.
I didn't say anything, I just grabbed my bag of food, turned and walked out. What would be the point? (It suddenly dawned on me that perhaps they are instructed to lie to customers: "Don't worry, our food is so good they'll come back.")
Was the food good? Of course it was good: it's Popeyes butterfly shrimp. If you can find them and they have the sauce (for real), then I would say go for it. The Zatarain's cornmeal spices were tasty and crunchy. They would have been complemented nicely with the lemon garlic sauce. (Was I hoping for more than six shrimp for the five-and-a-half bucks I paid? Yeah, but I can't say I was too surprised, given what I wrote earlier about the diminishing size of Popeyes' promotions.)
It reminded me of something Chefprotoss wrote in a comment here last summer:
"Damn Popeyes for being so delicious that we will deal with their BS!"
And that's how I used to feel. But not any more.
It was fun Popeyes, but you're more of a headache than you're worth these days.
Posted by JustinM at 10:24 AM