Do you remember Chotchkie's? It was a fictional knock-off of the TGI Friday's/Ruby Tuesday/Applebee's-genre of restaurants in the Mike Judge film Office Space. Right now, my favorite of those is Ruby Tuesday, as I've had excellent service and food there lately—at multiple locations. I know this has absolutely nothing to do with Trader Joe's food, but I'm going to seize this opportunity to use what little sway I have on this blog to stick it to Applebee's, whose revolting restaurants I've vowed to never set foot in again, primarily because of the jaw-droppingly awful service we received at their Havertown, PA location several months ago. Trust me, you don't wanna ask. I'm usually a kind, sympathetic human being, but I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep if the earth opened up and swallowed that particular location of that restaurant down into the bowels of the earth. I advised their regional manager to take that $25 Crapplebee's certificate that he offered me in compense for the horror I experienced, to gift it to his worst enemy and to tell him to use it in Havertown. I'm not bitter or anything, though...
Ahem, back to the Trader Joe's Chicken Serenada. Most bites were delicious. But some were better than others. The majority of the dish was nice, juicy white breast meat. A few bites were a bit stringy, and there were traces of skin. Some people, like my wife, are fans of chicken skin, and it doesn't bother them to get a bit mixed in with their meat. I'm not one of those people. Animal skin of any kind revolts me. It's not just the principle of the thing, it's the texture. Skin is so elastic...it's too chewy. But anyway, the bites with skin were just aberrations in an otherwise terrifically-textured plate of poultry.
Flavor-wise, the chicken itself tasted great, and the sauce was excellent. I'm not sure what all was in the sauce, but there appeared to be several different kinds and colors of peppers and onions. On about the third bite I took, there was this very magical moment in which my mouth became unusually, uncommonly, and abnormally happy. Way happier than usual. Not that it's usually unhappy...but there was just something about that particular bite. The experience repeated itself at least three more times throughout my consumption of the chicken. I tried to slow down and be aware of what I was shoveling into my mouth, so that I could pick out what was causing these sporadic occasions of noshing nirvana. I never did figure out what it was. My best guess is those green pepper-looking vegetables.
Anyway, that handful of magical bites was as close as I came to having this chicken change my life forever. But alas, it was too infrequent and irregular to call this chicken transcendent. Also, I should mention that the serving size was just barely enough for one person. Sonia and I shared it so we could both taste it and give it a score. Sonia liked it. She doesn't know where the dish came from. She says it's not Mexican, so we're guessing it's some kind of Spanish meal. "Chicken Serenada." It's like having a ballad written for you by a baked yardbird. I picture farm fowl dancing flamenco and clapping their wings together in unison. It's beautiful. But not to the point that I can overlook the stringy bites, the stunted serving size and the hefty price tag. I'll give it a 3.5. Sonia gives it a 4 for it's pleasant taste and texture. Not bad for a gourmet entree you can heat in the microwave.
Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.