Sunday, August 29, 2010

Snob Review: Raising Cane's, Baby

What better way to end days and days of eating off the highway (if I never eat Subway again...) but with Baton Rouge's best home-grown fastfood!

Raising Cane's began as a homework assignment for a business class at LSU. Todd Graves, Cane's founder, apparently got a terrible grade on his chicken finger business plan, but there's no dream quite as strong as the dream of fried chicken. After years of hard work out in the real world, he raised enough capital to get it going and finally opened the first store outside LSU's north gate in 1996. It was off to a bustling, finger-licking beginning, and the business has since expanded beyond our little sleepy BR berg into 13 other states of this our great nation.

One of the best thing about Cane's, I think, is the simplicity of their menu. They really have only 6 items from which to assemble your meal: chicken fingers, french fries, coleslaw, Texas toast, super-secret Cane's sauce and soda. You can order any of these a la carte, or you can go with one of their meals - various numbers of fingers, fries, toast, sauce and a drink or the Cane's sandwich: chicken fingers on a bun. That's it. That's all she wrote.


Of course, what makes this simplicity pay off is the quality of the (fast)food. There's no denying the fastfood fried-ness of these meals. But everyone needs a little fastfood in their lives, and if you're gonna do it why not do it right. Do it local...or at least not BIG business. Do it yum.

First and foremost, these are some serious chicken fingers. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for chicken fingers. They were the very last meat I ate after I had become vegetarian - I ordered them delivery to my dorm in Boston and snarfed them in the common room, hoping no one would catch me and tell the vegetarian police. These chicken fingers are no McDonald's processed crap. They are clearly chicken - all white meat, flaky like chicken can be, tender and with the right meat:fried ratio. (I.e. more meat less fried. But still very very fried.) Definitely Cane's crowning glory. As they should be. The fries are fries - not particularly potato-y but salty like fastfood fries were meant to be - and while the sauce could use a little more kick in my opinion, it was creamy, saucy, good. Nothing here is pretending to be good for you, and so maintains its high taste level, but everything is quality. KFC should hang its head in shame.

Lastly, just a word about the ambiance. The original store, the one where I purchased these lovely fingers, is a real LSU staple. College kitsch on the walls and tiger print upholstery. Def worth the visit. And you see that guitar on the wall behind me? Enter to win.