The highly-anticipated American fried chicken chain officially opened in Rotherham’s Parkgate Shopping Park yesterday, on Monday May 15. Ahead of its opening, we were given the chance to look around the new venue, and to try out almost everything on the menu following weeks of training for all 120 new members of staff.
In all honesty, I hadn’t heard of Popeyes before around a month ago, probably because the chain hadn’t yet made it to South Yorkshire, or neighbouring Leeds or Manchester. But upon entering the building off Stadium Way, it was clear the brand was well-established and well-known by the amount of people attempting to follow me through the doors. It was clear from the off that this would be a hot-spot for shoppers, visitors and commuters.
I was quickly greeted by many very polite and smiley staff, and given a tour of the site before I sat down by the window to enjoy some food. For once I was grateful for my almost insatiable hunger, as when the food was brought over it filled the table. I was given both the infamous Chicken Sandwich and the Deluxe version (the same but with lettuce and cheese), both the cajun-seasoned and plain fries, the classic and spicy chicken tenders, chicken on the bone, mash and cajun gravy, and the Popeyes Original Biscuit with a side of honey. Quite the feast for a queen.
While Popeyes does not offer ‘finger-lickin’ good’ chicken like the site it replaced, it instead sells its chicken with a ‘shatter-crunch’ buttermilk batter, which gives your teeth something crisp to sink into. It was especially delicious in the buttery brioche bun, with mayonnaise, lettuce and a cheese slice. I’m not always sure where I stand with chicken, but Popeyes was spot on for consistency and takes the lead on my personal league table of fast-food chicken burgers. Some may be pleased to hear it’s halal, fresh, and British-sourced.
I was told that the Popeyes ‘biscuit’ is especially popular in America. I would argue it is definitely not a biscuit, but perhaps a scone of some sort. It’s slightly salted, and Americans apparently enjoy dipping it in either gravy or honey. I of course decided to try both and found in gravy it became more of a dumpling in stew. Unusual but nice. It would definitely be a good snack.
The chicken chain also offers an impressive range of dips, ranging from classic mayonnaise all the way to the fiery Louisiana Hot, so there is bound to be something there to suit everyone’s taste buds. For me, you can’t beat garlic mayonnaise and it proved a wonderful pairing with the cajun fries. I also tried out the Oreo milkshake which is something I can definitely vouch for.
All in all, it was surprisingly good and genuinely takes the reign in my fast-food preferences. Although, I don’t think it is somewhere I would queue for seven hours for, like some customers did to take advantage of an opening day free food offer.