When I think “fast food” — and likely when you do, too — Dairy Queen almost never comes up as a choice. In fact, the only time I do think of “Dairy Queen” and ‘food” in the same, connected thought is when I’m on a road trip and I see a DQ on the side of the highway. If it’s a DQ with a full menu (opposed to ones that just serve cones, shakes, Blizzards and fountain drinks), they usually have a marquee on which their specials are displayed. And it was on a trip out-of-town that I saw a DQ with a “Try our Crispy Fish Sandwich!” adhesive decal on their picture window.
Once I got back to San Diego, I called around to every Dairy Queen I could find (there aren’t many). All but one were either “Treats-only” shops or — if they did have a full menu — they just didn’t have the fish sandwich. But I found one that did, in Oceanside.
I got the impression that not many people ask for the fish sandwich at Dairy Queen. This is because when I ordered it, the cashier said “we don’t have a fish sandwich.” I said “I just called a week earlier and was told you did, and that it was a buck ninety-nine.” He argued back that they’ve never had fish sandwiches. The manager overheard our conversation and pointed out it was the main menu behind him. And when he rang it up, the total was WAY off because the cash register was programmed to charge $3.49 instead of the $1.99 on the menu. Again, the manager had to intervene and correct the register to match the menu.
Onto the sandwich. It came hot from the fryer and was bundled up in its own little “Crispy Fish” wrapper… but it went to the wrong guy (he was kind enough to let me fetch it off his tray). After all this hassle, I was expecting the worst. And it came close. The toasted, seeded bun was soft and fresh, and it had a smear of non-descript tartar sauce on both the top and bottom halves. Then came a big leaf or two of green lettuce and the breaded fish beneath. The fish itself probably came from the same bulk frozen fish manufacturer/distributor that served many a fast food restaurant. It was really no different in flavor from Rally’s or A&W.
But what kind of ruined the sandwich for me was the choice of lettuce. The dark green romaine didn’t stand a chance against the hot-from-the-boiling-oil fish portion. It was wilted and lifeless, having clearly succumbed to heatstroke. This is where iceberg lettuce has an advantage. Dairy Queen should learn from that. In all, the sandwich was a clone of any (insert name of non-chain local ice cream and burger joint) you’d find in Anytown, U.S.A. But then again, chances are if you’re at a Dairy Queen, it’s not for dinner.
The $1.99 DQ Crispy Fish Sandwich has 470 calories and 22 grams of fat.
Read other Friday Fast Food Fishtucular posts here.