Tim Hortons now has a chicken burger. It seems like an odd addition to the Tims menu, doesn’t it? Odd in that it’s such standard fast-food fare—every chain has a chicken sandwich, but over the years, Tims has tended to mark its territory with homier, café-inspired items like soups and paninis. A burger, on the other hand, feels so… McDonald’s.
Well, that’s because it is. Just as McDonald’s has targeted Timmies’ bottom line by improving its coffee, it’s fair to guess that Tims is out to eat some of McDonald’s lunch by improving its sandwiches. No doubt, it’s an area where the company could grow. While mornings can be a mosh pit at Tim Hortons, business peters out dramatically as the day drags on. Accordingly, the company’s new CEO, Marc Caira, has a five-year plan to get more people buying lunch and dinner, and more than one item at a time (which is currently the case for 60% of orders).
The burger, in theory, nails two chickens with one stone. It’s not exactly breakfast food and, in this eater’s humble opinion, feels incomplete without a combo. You can get the sandwich on its own for $4.99 or you can get it as part of a combo with coffee and a donut for $6.79—not bad price-wise, but donuts and burgers feel like awkward bedfellows. There’s also a soup option—and Tims certainly does soup well—but at $8.25 it’s more than I want to pay for a quick lunch. The company said it’s experimenting with warmed kettle chips during its Investor Day last week. That sounds more like it.
So the big question is, how does it taste? It’s not bad. Nothing about it stands out. Certainly not its name, the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, nor its garnishes: lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. The bun is softer than most, but seems too small. The chicken breast patty pours over the sides.
And yet, I’ll probably order the Crispy Chicken Sandwich again. Yesterday, I wanted a filling lunch, knowing I was in for a long afternoon. For the same reason, I figured I needed another coffee. So I wandered downstairs at 1 p.m.—when, predictably at my nearest location, there is rarely a lineup—and bought the combo. Did it satisfy my taste buds? Adequately. More importantly, it satisfied the need for lunch and coffee for $6.79.