White Castle's BBQ Menu: Hot Or Not?

As we wrote last week, White Castle is testing out a new Blaze BBQ menu at one of its restaurants in Indiana. Lucky for us, blogger Kat Jones lives in the area and decided to take us up on our request for a proper review.

Rather than try to sum up Kat’s observances, we’ll just let her speak for herself:

As a decided non-fan of White Castle, the idea of barbeque from the new Blaze Modern BBQ at White Castle in Lafayette, IN, seemed a bit stomach-turning at first. But, as I drive by it at least twice a week, I figured it was my duty to report back to Consumerist readers.

My son and I stopped in for dinner, along with half the population of Lafayette. The parking lot had filled long before we got there, and cars lined both sides of the street. It is, by far, the nicest design I’ve ever seen in a fast food restaurant- all white and blue and modern.

Big screen LCD menus listed a strange combination of BBQ joint, Chipotle rip-off, and Chinese takeout in addition to the White Castle food we all know and love (or hate). The meat offered included standard BBQ fare like smoked chicken, turkey and brisket, but veered off the traditional with Andouille sausage, carnitas and Chinese char sui style pork.

The sides were also mostly standard with a twist; baked beans, mac & cheese and coleslaw listed next to Brunswick stew and southwestern black beans and corn. And at $5.49 for a sandwich with one side, and $6.99 for a platter o’ meat with two sides, the prices are on par with other lower end non-fast food restaurants in the area.

Since it was just me and the kid, I couldn’t justify trying everything on the menu, and I’m glad I didn’t. The portions were surprisingly generous for a place where you need at least 4 regular sandwiches to feel remotely full.

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I went for the chicken (I assumed it’s hard to screw up smoked chicken), and my son settled on his favorite, carnitas. For our sides, we elected to try the corn on the cob and coleslaw, and added a mini loaf of cornbread for good measure. While we waited for our food, we chose our sauces. After that agonizing decision, we waited another 10 minutes for our food to come up. Granted, they were packed, but there’s a point where you tell people to just sit down and you’ll bring it to them. Apparently, we didn’t reach that point. It makes me wonder how much this BBQ notion will hold up the drive-thru.

When we finally got our tray, everything except the coleslaw was wrapped in a silver bag. It was vaguely futuristic — to go with the modern décor, I suppose — but not terribly attractive.

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As I mentioned, we were given plenty of food, but honestly, we didn’t even come close to finishing it, and not because of the quantity. The carnitas was really tender, but salty as hell, and tasted like Liquid Smoke. The chicken was moist, but the good ended there. It was bland, kind of cold, chunky (no shredding here!) and didn’t even have a faux smoke taste to redeem it. The sides, on the other hand, were tasty. The coleslaw was creamy and delicious, the corn was sweet and fresh (way better than KFC), and the cornbread was decent, though on the dry side.

Then, there were the sauces.We tried four of the five available, leaving off the hottest, Blazin’ Chili. Blaze was an edible, and almost enjoyable, sweetish typical sauce, along the lines of Sweet Baby Rays or anything else you can find at the grocery store. Smokin’ Tomato Blaze was horribly, disgustingly sweet. Sweet Asian Blaze was surprisingly good; sweet, but not overly so, with a teriyaki-like flavor. Blazin’ Mustard, however, was the best. While it’s listed as three chilis (somewhat hot), it had only the slightest kick, and the vinegar base made it nicely tart. All the sauces, however, had that same Liquid Smoke flavor lingering in the background.

All in all, it’s still fast food, no matter how they dress it up. The service still sucked, almost everything was covered in salt, and I felt kind of gross from eating it. And could they try any harder to cement the “Blaze” brand? Overkill. However, having another option when my husband wants White Castle is appealing and infinitely better than choking down a slider.

Thanks to Kat and her son for the feedback and the photos. For more from Kat, check out her blog.

Tomorrow, we’ll have a reader review and pics from the White Castle in Springfield, OH, where they recently started serving noodles alongside sliders.

We also hear that there’s a White Castle in Lebanon, TN, that now also houses something called Decker’s, which is apparently a pressed-sandwich shop. If anyone in the Lebanon area thinks they have the stomach, we want to hear from you!