Moving to New York as a vegetarian with an array of allergies, by CHLOE. was my saving grace. It’s basically a sanctuary for anyone who’s vegan or vegetarian. They offer a wide range of dishes from pancakes and desserts to pasta and burgers, with student discounts and an overall chic ambiance. So when they released their line of three different “Chicky Chicky” vegan chicken dishes made from crispy tempeh — the Chicky Chicky tenders, the Chicky Chicky Parm Parm sandwich (nice “Parks and Recreation” nod) and the Crispy Chicky Salad — I had hopes that the chicken would be just as tasty as their other offerings. It’s possible that if you are a vegetarian you’ve had a craving for chicken at least once in your life, so I figured these dishes would help solve that completely. It was also heavily promoted by the restaurant’s social media before its release and was written about by major vegetarian food magazines, like VeganLife and VegOut magazine. What really hyped me up for it, though, was my chicken-loving roommate’s excitement for it and a Yelp review that called it “better than real chicken fingers.”
So my roommate and I made the hike to the by CHLOE. right around the block from our apartment and were feeling good about what was to come. The menu, as always, was bright and vibrant, but the three chicky dishes stood out with their sparkly gold lettering. Since the tenders were the cheapest of the three, at $6.95, we decided to order those. They came with a selection of sauces: BBQ, buffalo sauce or sweet mustard, my roommate got the sweet mustard while I got the buffalo sauce.
In typical overpriced by CHLOE. fashion, one $7 serving of the Chicky Chicky tenders gave us just three meager pieces of the chicken in an oversized basket. Still, I was hopeful that the quality would outweigh the quantity.
The tenders looked pretty much like regular chicken tenders, and we had been given the classic sauces that go with them. The smell of the fried batter was the exact same as freshly fried chicken and the tempeh seemed well seasoned to my roommate.
But everything went to hell when I actually bit into it. The insides were the weirdest and most upsetting texture I’ve ever experienced. It was chewy and gray and somehow also tasted gray. The crust was so hard and sharp from being over-fried that it literally cut the roof of my mouth. It was bland and just generally unappealing to look at or consume. I had to wash the taste of it out of my throat with ginger ale and a chocolate cupcake.
Though my roommate didn’t hate hers as much as I did — she still hated it, just not as much — it was because hers was quite different from mine. Her tempeh filling was softer and definitely seasoned better, and her crust was also less abrasive. Though it made her experience less unpleasant, it just spoke to the irregularity of how this dish is prepared.
At the end of the day, I still love by CHLOE. — nothing will ever compare to their gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. However, I am never putting myself through those Chicky Chicky tenders again, and I don’t recommend that anyone ever do that to themselves either. I can safely say that after this, I will never crave chicken from by CHLOE. again.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Feb. 3, 2019 print edition. Email Ria Mittal [email protected]