Fast Food

Would you like fries (or onion rings or chicken tenders) with that?

KFC in the UK: Is Fast Food Better in Europe?

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[Photo: Carey Jones]

When most people think of "England," the first thing that pops into their minds is the royal family, or Austin Powers, or right now, the Royal Wedding. For me, it's KFC.

That's not just a handy opener, either. When I was 12, I went to England with an exchange group. On the last day, I remember sneaking out with some friends to go to the KFC down the street from our hotel. That three piece and biscuit was my last memory of England, and it tasted so good then—if only because we knew we weren't allowed to leave the hotel.

While on vacation in Europe last week, I couldn't help but notice that KFC was advertising products I'd never seen before; I tried to stay away. But the pictures in the windows kept talking to me, like paintings in the hallway of Harry Potter's dormitory. I didn't want to be the American cliche that eats at a fast food chain while abroad; I just had to console myself with the notion that I was a professional.

For the most part, the menu was the same; however, KFC in London offered fries, rather than biscuits. Two other UK-specific items were the Godfather Meal and the Krush'ems. The Godfather Meal is a combo meal with their Spicy Italian Tower Sandwich, a piece of fried chicken, fries, and a side dish. The Krush'ems are like KFC's McFlurries.

The Spicy Italian Tower Sandwich was quite the find: a fried chicken fillet, with lettuce, mayo, spicy sauce, and an onion and potato fritter. The chicken was good cut of white meat, though thinner than what you might find in America. The sauce, though a little gelatinous in texture, tasted great, like a hot marinara. The onion fritter was the best part: it added a great crunch inside the sandwich, but also an interesting mix of onion and potato flavors. Meaty (but not too meaty), with elements of fried foods, onion flavor, spices, and good cheese, it's a mighty tasty sandwich.

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As for the combo items in the Godfather Meal, there were some disappointments. The fries are nothing special; they reminded me of Wendy's old fries: very low fry-to-potato ratio, often limp, not enough salt. The side of corn seemed like it had been boiled for hours; it was like eating paste, not crisp, fresh corn. However, their fried chicken was surprisingly good. Unlike American KFC, there wasn't an incredibly thick batter, and its chicken flavor was much more pronounced.

KFC UK also offers a dessert called a Krush'em, which is much like a McFlurry. You can have them with toppings blended in, like Oreos or, my choice, Cadbury's Dairy Milk. A Krush'em is made with milk, some soft serve, toppings, and ice. It's more watery than a McDonald's shake or a McFlurry, reminding me more of an ice milk shake, if a reasonably flavorful one.

Overall, KFC UK gets my seal of approval: the Spicy Italian Tower Sandwich was great, and should be imported to this side of the pond; their chicken tasted slightly better and less greasy. Unlike McDonald's France, I do think that KFC UK was better than the KFC USA experiences that I've had.

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