Inside UK’s first Wendy’s in 21 years as US chain opens – and we tried the food

It’s been more than 20 years since Wendy’s closed up shop for good and left the UK, taking with it the iconic Dave’s Single hamburger and of course, the Frosty.

But the American fast-food chain is now back, opening up its first restaurant in Reading today, with a plan to expand to 400 different locations in the coming few years – the next being in Stratford and then Oxford.

Ahead of the big launch, Mirror journalist Courtney Pochin was invited down to preview the new Wendy’s and try some of the items on the menu, which has been specially tailored for a British audience – with plenty of vegetarian options.

There are some major classics making a comeback, such as the Baconator, which boasts two beef patties, lots of melty American cheese, crispy bacon strips and lashings of mayo and ketchup. It’s a must-try for burger fans.

As well as this, customers can expect to find a few very different offerings – including jacket potatoes, cups of Chilli con Carne, loaded fries and veggie bites.

The Reading restaurant has been carefully designed to cater for a post-pandemic world, with the fizzy drinks dispenser being contactless, with a QR code you can scan that enables you to select drinks and pour them straight from your phone.

Government guidelines on face coverings and social distancing are being adhered to inside, but masks can be taken off once you’re in your seat.

Wendy’s is also taking customer safety very seriously when it comes to allergens, with a tablet located by the tills that allows you to look up the full list of ingredients in every single item on the menu at just the touch of a button.

The chain prides itself on making quality food at affordable prices and after sampling a few of their products I can safely say they are meeting their aim.

During my visit, I got to try the Baconator, Spicy Chicken burger, Fries, Chicken Nuggets, Veggie Bites, Chilli con Carne and a Vanilla Frosty.

This was all washed down with a Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper – though it was hard to pick just one flavour of drink for the combo meal as there are so many fizzy options to chose from.

The Baconator – which also comes in breakfast form if you make it to Wendy’s before 10:30am – was the clear standout from the taste test.

As someone who would usually order a burger from the likes of Patty & Bun or Five Guys, instead of Burger King or McDonald’s (I’m sorry Maccas fans, don’t hate me), the Baconator was a pleasant surprise.

I didn’t initially have high hopes. But it was very good.

There was no scrimping on any of the fillings, the burger patties were a good size for the price, lots of meat, not at all cardboard-like as some others can be. I would 100% go back for another.

Priced at £6.29 on its own, or £7.99 with fries and a drink it’s pricier than a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese (£4.29 individually or £5.79 medium meal) or a Bacon Double Cheeseburger from BK (£3.99 on own or £5.99 meal) but I’d say it’s worth the extra pennies.

The Spicy Chicken burger was also a big hit – it came highly recommended by almost every member of staff in the place when I asked them what their favourite thing to order was. It certainly packs a punch a few mouthfuls in, so if spice isn’t your thing, the Classic Chicken Burger might be more your speed, especially if you love the pairing of fried chicken and pickles as it’s got both.

As for the rest of the items, the chips were skin-on and a little salty but not greasy, the Veggie Bites reminded me of falafels but they paired great with a Heinz sweet chilli dipping sauce (you get a choice of sauces at the till), while the breaded Chicken Nuggets had a southern fried taste you might confuse for KFC.

The cup of chilli was also enjoyable, hearty, meaty and would be perfect on a jacket potato or for you to dunk your fries into.

I was bemused when it was served with a packet of two cream crackers, but according to Paul Hilder, the Senior Vice President and Managing Director for UK and Canada, this is how chilli is often eaten in Northern America, with crackers broken up and sprinkled over the top. (I tried it, it’s not bad).

And speaking of food traditions, if you do visit Wendy’s you must be sure to try dunking a chip into a Frosty (a cross between an ice cream and a milkshake that’s delicious).

So Wendy’s was a big winner for me, the food was very tasty and honestly my only disappointment is that I didn’t get to try their breakfast menu, because who doesn’t want a croissant sandwich filled with sausage, egg and/or bacon?

But don’t just take my word for it, be sure to try it for yourself!

Wendy’s first UK restaurant officially opens today (June 2), from midday and is located on the corner of Friar Street and Station Road in Reading.

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