Although Popeyes is a fast-food chain mainly noted for its famed chicken, seafood has always been a prominent sidekick on its menu. A Louisiana themed restaurant wouldn’t be complete without a fried seafood po’boy, after all, and shrimp is the quintessential Gulf of Mexico seafood.
And though shrimp plays its part in Popeyes’ menu, hushpuppies do not. To our recollection, hushpuppies have never been a part of Popeyes’s menu. Maybe this is because hushpuppies are more of a Deep South thing than a New Orleans thing? Who knows.
But what about both shrimp and hushpuppies combined? Could a combination of two classic Southern dishes be greater than the sum of their parts? Popeyes’s Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp (their limited time offering for July) attempted to fuse these two classics to create a Frankenstein-esque monster of deliciousness. Combined with a new Cajun Cocktail sauce, and we may have had a winner on our hands – we’ll find out after the jump.
We have bad, bad experiences with fast food hushpuppies (chronicled in our Arby’s Jalapeno Hushpuppies review), so we were apprehensive about ordering this right off the bat. Fast food attempting to cover the nebulous realm of lesser-known deep fried goodies is usually a disaster better left for state fairs and family cookouts, because the end result is usually overdone and oily. Let’s hope things will be better this time.
We got our shrimp for $4.99 at our local Popeyes; this is a dollar higher than most of Popeyes’ other limited time offers. It could be understandable for a seafood offering, but it could be the nail in the coffin.
Our first impression was kind of underwhelming, but that may be because the side was not included (more on that later). Still, most Popeyes boxes are filled to bursting with chicken, so this wasn’t a very promising start.
Each shrimp was coated in a thick, crisp layer of hushpuppy cornmeal. When bit into, they were actually pretty good – each shrimp was tender and juicy and the cornmeal coating was very crunchy. We liked the breading a lot, and it really did taste like its namesake. There was a good corn flavor and the texture was spot on for a well-fried hushpuppy. Even the tails tasted good and were nice and chewy.
The sauce was where things started to fall apart. Popeyes offers a standard plain cocktail sauce, but the Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp comes with a special sauce labelled Cajun Cocktail.
It tasted nothing like a good cocktail sauce, as it was more like an overwhelmingly spicy ketchup with the texture to match. Cocktail sauce enthusiasts will probably point out that cocktail sauce consists of ketchup; however, this was just spicy ketchup. The sauce was also very cold, and cold sauce plus hot shrimp makes for a lukewarm flavor.
What we did like about the sauce was its spice level – we here at Eggware.XYZ love hot food and this
ketchup cocktail sauce was pleasantly spicy. Unfortunately, the flavor completely overwhelms the shrimp in any quantity, while the shrimp is just a little too dry to eat on its own. A milder (in flavor, not spice) sauce would have been nice.
The portions were also disappointingly small. Eight small shrimp is really not a lot of food, even for $4.99, which is also aggravated by the fact that there’s just too much of the damn sauce coupled with not enough shrimp – normally Popeyes offerings are perfectly proportioned to the sauce given, but we weren’t even halfway done with the sauce when we finished the shrimp.
Not to mention that since our local Popeyes managed to forget our side, we were left wanting a lot more after eating this.
2 out of 5 – Not Worth Trying
This… well, it wasn’t bad, but it sure as heck wasn’t good. Fast food shrimp is expensive at best, and the price point on this just didn’t hit it with us. The shrimp themselves were very tasty, but a high price, minuscule portions and mediocre sauce weren’t enough to turn into a worthwhile whole.
Probably the most insulting thing was that it wasn’t even bad for the reasons we expected, as attributes like a burnt oil-soaked exterior and cold interior was completely absent. Instead, the food itself was theoretically perfect, destroyed by a lack of appropriate sauce.