Monday, April 16, 2018

Jack's Cholula Buttery Jack Combo Comes Up Short

I've been using Cholula hot sauce (a blend of piquin peppers, arbol peppers, vinegar, and spices) for twenty plus years now. My friend, Loi, a barista at Borders, turned me on to it back in the 90s and it's been a staple in my kitchen ever since. Its complex flavor profile adds a combination of spiciness and mild sweetness to foods without being tongue searingly hot.

| Subject: The Cholula Buttery Jack Combo | Date: 04/10/2018 |
| Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell |

The latest addition to Jack In The Box's Buttery Jack line up is the Cholula Buttery Jack Burger (crispy-fried jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, and tomato along with the line's signature beef patty basted in melted garlic herb butter all served on a soft artisan bun). I arrived at Beaverton, Oregon's Jack In The Box (2920 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton) at eleven-ish Tuesday morning and got the combo with Cholula Fries (crispy French fries topped with a white cheese sauce, garlic herb butter, and Cholula hot sauce) and a medium iced tea for $7.79.

I began the meal by diving into the fries. Even with all the sauces on them, they were remarkably crispy, hot, and salty just like a good fry should be. The cheese sauce added a wonderful creaminess while the Cholula added a good kick of heat. I could even taste a hint of garlic from the garlic butter. The ones on the very bottom were a little soggy of course, but that's unavoidable. I've got nothing bad to say about the fries. I have to give them 10 out of 10 stars.

The burger was a different story altogether. I did taste a good bit of heat from the Cholula and the pepperjack cheese. However, the fried jalapenos were just...kind of...there. They were redundant really.  The pepper chips didn't add any noticeable heat above and beyond what the pepper jack and hot sauce already brought to the party.  Likewise, with the crispy lettuce being as plentiful as it was the fried peppers didn't add any perceptible additional crunchiness.

The lettuce and the tomato did serve as a nice counterbalance to the spice. The real problem was the beef. That beef was DRY! I'm not talking, lacking a little moisture dry. I'm talking about leaving the beef out in the desert for three weeks with a blow-dryer on it dry.  When I took a bite, the burger was mealy and grey in the middle. It just wasn't good on any level.

I don't often leave a burger unfinished, but I could only choke down half of this puppy before leaving sad, hungry, and disgusted.  To be fair, if you go to a Jack In The Box that knows how to cook beef, you might have a better experience. But as it was, I have to give this burger a 5 out of 10 stars. I could make a better Cholula burger at home.

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