In the past, I've slammed Arby's. Despite my friend Ed's insistence that their roast beef is worthy of sleeping with (or in, as he often says), I find their food to be nothing short of disgusting. While there was a time when I liked their 5-for-$5 special out of fiscal necessity, I would never say that I loved their food. I have, however, been able to tolerate their Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich, if only because it's one of the few items not made from their iridescent green sheets of "roast beef."
Alas, today I had a revelatory dining experience that proved that Arby's Chicken Cordon Bleu is - believe it or not - the real deal.
At the company cafeteria, I lined up at the first hot plat (not entrée) station and ordered myself the aforementioned poulet Cordon Bleu, along with a side of mashed potatoes and ratatouille. Not because I was particular craving any of those, but because it was the cheap option (2€50) that I've come to appreciate, what with France's rapidly rising food prices.
I've probably written about it before: The cafeteria food is actually not bad at all. I'll actually eat the andouillete (tripe sausage) and ultra-rare meats on offer just as easily I would at a decent restaurant. While my ethnic palate demands regular doctoring with Tabasco, chili pepper flakes, or garlic powder, the quality is at least pretty good.
Taking that into consideration, I was a bit shocked that my Chicken Cordon Bleu tasted exactly as it has at countless banquet dinners in American hotel ballrooms, dinners at friends' houses in Middle America, and... you guessed it... Arby's.
So while my company cafeteria isn't the paragon of fine dining, they at least get the French dishes right (and the Mexican and Asian dishes sooooo wrong), so if the Cordon Bleu here tastes the way it does, then - by golly - there's one dish out there that my star-spangled countrymen are actually enjoying as it was meant to be.
Now maybe I should run over to a cafeteria in the Ukraine to see if "Chicken Kiev" is all it's cracked up to be.
(Note: I'm well aware that Chicken Kieve is not actually Ukrainian.)