Mar 15, 2013

Jason Rosso’s Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich

Marc-André and I had settled on Milestones for our lunch meeting, after a lenghty back-and-forth. We arrived at Milestones, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cara, and found some seats at a high table in the lounge area, by the window overlooking the intersection of Sussex and Rideau.

Milestones new corporate chef, Jason Rosso, of Restaurant Makeover fame, created a bunch of new dishes for the chain. The new menu was launched a month ago.

Amongst the new Rosso creation, you can find the Newcastle Cheddar and Garlic Mussels, the Sicilian Mussels, the Chopped Salad (grilled chicken, avocado, chick peas, feta cheese in a medley of chopped vegetables),  the Montreal Stack (smoked meat, aged cheddar, caramelized onions, tomatoes and blackberry ketchup),  the Canadian Brie and Pesto Flatbread, the Chicken Noodle & Shiitake Bowl.

According to Cheapdude, Chef Rosso has created his own “swat team” that goes around to different Milestones restaurants to ensure they are up to his standards.

Both Marc-André and I decided to go for one of Chef Rosso’s new creation: I picked the Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich while he went for the Spicy Tuna Tacos ($14.99).

The lunch rush had come and gone, and the lunch crowd was now thinner, so it didn’t take much time for us to get our food.

Marc-André’s three tuna tacos looked very pretty, if small.

The Ahi tuna had been seared properly, and the two tones of pink were spectacularly appetizing looking.

The Ahi tuna sat on a bright, colourful bed of Asian sesame slaw. To garnish the tacos, a dollup of spicy chipotle yogurt, which seemed counter-intuitive, since usually yogurt is used to kill the heat.

The tortillas had been grilled quickly, you could see some light char marks near the edges. Still, Marc-André was disappointed: “The tortillas seemed to come straight from a box of so-called tex-mex Old El Paso taco kit.” Harsh.

But flavourwise, Marc-André seemed to enjoy the dish. “The vegetables were crunchy and the sauce was deliciously spicy – but the tuna was kind of lost because of the sauce and also because there wasn’t much of it in the tacos.”  Overall, a nice creation by Chef Rosso, but sometimes you need more than a beautiful presentation to satisfy the customer, apparently.

My chicken sandwich looked good too, though it would be a stretch to say it looked pretty.

With my sandwich, I had the choice between curly fries and crisp mixed greens. Considering the fried chicken, I passed on the fries. (For an extra .99¢, you could get a Ceasar Salad or Yam Frites instead, and for $2.99, you can get a side of soup.)

The sandwich came with a side of house-made avocado salsa – but there wasn’t much else other than avocado in there.

Neverthelesse, I figured I would simply use it as a garnish for my sandwich, who then became spectacular, if not pretty.

A big piece of battered, deep fried chicken as the centre piece of the sandwich. Aged cheddar was added on top of the chicken, and it had melted ravishingly. A big slice of tomato, raw onion rings and lettuce were the veggie garnish of the sandwich, which was completed by a spicy chipotle mayo. All of it held in between nicely toasted mixed seed buns.

The sandwich was thick, making for a messy bite. Milestones labels the chicken “Crispy Cajun.” And if it was crispy, the Cajun flavours weren’t very strong – or spicy.  The piece of chicken itself was nice and thick – but I can’t say I was impressed with the way it had been cooked. It was on the dry side of things.  The aged cheddar was actually quite mild, but it had a nice melt, making it gooey and adding, along with the avocado, some moisture to the sandwich. The chipotle mayo had some heat – but I would have added more.

On the side, the salad was crisp and fresh, and on top of the mixed greens,  tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers and red onions were a nice addition.

Overall, not a bad sandwich, but not a big homerun.

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