Tuesday, 21 April 2009


France, a somewhat hostile environment for fast food vendors. Subway, ubiquitous upon the British high street is seen here only seldom. The Burger King was usurped by lack of custom. Here only the strong survive, yet KFC has only a precarious foothold in the market with not even 70 stores nationwide, compared to the UK's 761 branches.

The French are, funnily enough, not very successful at resisting invaders in the traditional sense, however when it comes to imported business models they are. I determined to visit some of Paris' branches to see what was on offer. There is no organised cabal operating against KFC in France, just a handful independent vendors. In sharp contrast to the UK's independents they choose more familiar monikers under which to ply their poultry than the UK's faux American eateries.

With so few KFC's about it was quite a trek to actually locate one, but when we did that familiar feeling of excitement and anticipation welled up inside of me!

The first thing I noticed is that they call themselves restaurants, perhaps to fit in with the french proclivity for enjoying good food rather than rushing their meals. I dashed inside eager to see what the menu had to offer.

I entered what from the outside appeared to be a chic Paris bistro with its maroon awnings, and found the interior to be redolent of a Spanish villa, with whitewashed plaster stucco walls with teracotta tiles and features. I had also stepped into a thong of customers all eager to get their hands on that gallic finger lickin' chicken.

The menu didn't dissapoint providing our usual benchmark, the Zinger tower, my favourite lost product, or at least an approximation of the Blazin' Boxmaster, the Chick' fillet 2HOT4U, a large selection of puddings and of course the usual pieces and buckets. Topping off the menu was a grilled chicken burger of which there are plans to trial in the UK. This really was to prove a bonanza. I ordered.

We also picked up some S'auce Yummy' which, with a honey mustard flavour was exactly what it said it was. What made me most happy was buying a 300ml pot of sauce 2HOT4U akin to the Jalapeno mayo on our Blazin' Boxmaster so I could enjoy that KFC hot, at home.

Greedily I dived in, the Boxmaster 2HOT4U was wonderful with much more fresh tomato than in the UK but not toasted. The Zinger Tower however left a little to be desired, the lettuce, which a collaborator often praises for being without fail fresh and crispy in the UK was wilted, soggy and browning whilst the chicken was a tad dry. The Chick' Fillet was a much more substatial mini fillet smothered in spicy sauce and was a real treat. One other thing I noticed was that even the chicken pieces are offered in a choice of original recipe or spicy, adding an interesting dynamic to the menu. My dessert, a mini chocolate gataux with chocolate fondant centre was of an excellent high quality.

The meal overall was good to very good, and came with napkins featuring environmental advice telling us not to use too many, and a freshen up wipe though in rather staid unimaginative wrapping.

I left and was extremely happy to see the McDonalds exactly opposite was derelict seemingly run out of town by the competition.

Having spent some time trying to find that first branch, I was both dismayed (for my stomach was now distended from overindulgence) and excited to stumble upon another store, which seemed to be the flagship only half an hour later. There was a throng of tourists milling around and who was I to resist the Colonel's plan for me. I walked into a clean and modern branch with plasma screens extolling the virtues of freshly prepared KFC chicken, and that all important product I had yet to try. . . . the Brazer, the grilled chicken burgers rumoured to be beginning trials here in the UK.

Sadly, compared to roast chicken options I had tried in the USA this was dry with too much bread, and packing no real punch of flavour like one gets from original recipe. Nevertheless the flavour was pleasant and the lettuce situation much improved. I am sure however that Chris Fells and the product excellence team back in the UK can, and will make this a product to be reckoned with.

KFC France with its strange anglofrench menu portmanteaus (All In Ze Box meal & Boxmaster 2HOT4U) was good but it was no KFC UK.

One last event left a sour taste in my mouth too. Remember the pot of sauce I purchased? Due to my only having hand luggage on the return flight it was confiscated by airport security. Sitting near the cockpit on the flight home I could swear I heard the captain telling the tower:

"Flight 11 over: Save some of that hot sauce for me over."
"Tower over: No, it's the most delicious thing we've ever eaten over."

And so we came back down to earth with a bump, happy at least that I was back in the land of chicken that I love.


SimpleKid said...

Great post.

Really informative.

Didn't it used to be called KFB over in France?

paulbot said...

great stuff, would love to try an "all in ze box" meal