I began looking forward to my inevitable brush with Wendy's new Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club as soon as they started bludgeoning us with ads for it last month. Wendy's is my favorite mainstream, national fast food provider, and as an upstanding and right-thinking eater, I like spice, guacamole, chicken, and club. What could possibly go wrong?
I'll tell you what could have gone wrong, buckos. Your blind and unwavering faith in the ability of bacon and avocados (or "tree bacon," as I'm going to pretend I call it) to elevate even the baloniest of sandwiches to Reubenesque or muffalettorious heights could have undermined the whole operation. Wendy's could have very easily half-assed this sandwich from start to finish and still counted on near-universal praise due to our national inability to criticize bacon or avocados.
Talking to food people about bacon and avocados is like talking to my fiancée about Bruce Springsteen. When we started dating, she asked if I was down with Bruce. I said sure, who wasn't born to run, you know? But now we have this conversation twice a year:
Her: "Want to get Springsteen tickets?"
Me: "Maybe. Is he playing for free within walking distance of our apartment on a night when there's no sports on TV?"
Her: "Pretty much, except we have to pay $100 a ticket, drive 50 miles, and sit outside."
Her: "BUT YOU TOLD ME YOU LIKE BRUCE!!!"
That's the sort of misunderstanding you walk into when you tell a Californian (such as my boss and my other boss) you like avocadoes or when you tell any kind of carnivore you like bacon. Both glorified condiments are usually good and sometimes they're great, but just as Springsteen can't rescue a $100 night of sitting in the maybe-rain far from home, avocados and bacon can't cure a bad sandwich.
Wendy's could have taken advantage of your zealotry, but instead they used quality bacon and tree bacon to make a good sandwich even better. The Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club is essentially a deluxed up version of Wendy's very good spicy chicken sandwich, and it is excellent. The bacon adds a ton, the guacamole certainly doesn't detract, and the end result is one of the rare fast food sandwiches worth $4.99.
Don't be distracted by the toppings. The chicken is running this show, and it is a benevolent boss: a nice thick hunk of juicy-enough white meat protected from the elements by a spicy and crunchy coating with a texture two steps better than the typical fast food fry job. The chicken provides most of the heat here, with a strong dose of black pepper augmented by paprika; I even suspect some cayenne dust, though none is listed unless it's going by "and spices."
Wendy's serves this one on the "premium butter toasted bun" they keep trying to get us excited about; it's fine, soft yet sturdy enough to hold up under pretty intense pressure from the chicken and bacon and their squishy affiliates.
About the squishening agents: Why oh why must there be mayonnaise on everything all the time everywhere forever? OK, done. As for the guacamole, it's better than I expected despite being a touch watery and two touches scarce. There's very little of it—the spreads merge into more of an unholy guacaioli than distinct layers of guac and mayo—but the avocado and lime come through (the alleged cilantro and jalapeño do not). The cheese is supposed to be pepper Jack, though mine seemed short on pepper and mostly just did was fast food cheese does: It melted, it added calories, it fused the meat to the other meat.
The bacon was the surprise star. This baby comes with four heavy applewood smoked slices of the finest pig I've encountered on the fast food beat. Take one off to eat naked—you'll still have enough to dress your sandwich and you'll get to fully appreciate the uncommon beauty of cheap bacon that is thick enough to retain some fat and life even after being cooked to sufficient exterior crunch. I'm still not sold on guacamole's universal magic, but I will bow down to the baconists in this case: It is the bacon that raises this sandwich from a B to an A-minus.