REVIEW: Raising Cane’s is everything you want, as long as you want chicken fingers

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Always using fresh chicken, Raising Cane's employees dip and bread every order of chicken strips in-house. (Alex Shaw | Collegian Media Group)

Raising Cane’s, a well-known franchise, has set up shop in Manhattan. After hearing my family’s less-than-positive reports of Slim Chickens in Lenexa, Kansas, it seems that new chicken shops can be a bit of a mixed bag. Tentatively, I entered the fast food restaurant hoping this was one of the good ones.

Upon entering you find a layout that will remind you of nearly every other fast food joint. Its distinction is subtle, with the tops of walls accented by ribbed aluminum and left the whole area feeling like Cox Bros. BBQ splashed onto a Wendy’s.

Despite this, it left its impression. Above the cashiers was a note in theater-sign lettering about how Raising Cane’s and Manhattan are the best combo, with an implied promise of future chicken-based puns.

Of all the screens showing you the menu, one was dedicated to informing you that Raising Cane’s was named after the founder’s dog, a splash on the far wall read “what are ya…chicken?” and a sign as you left said, I kid you not, “SEE YOU TOMORROW.”

There is a real charm to this place, and for opening recently, everything seemed to go very smoothly. If you paid attention to everyone working, you can see that there was no spillover; everyone was doing only their job. Everyone was polite and expedient and calm. The only wrinkle was that there was no Texas toast at the time, which was unfortunate, considering all the meals but one come with a side of toast.

The menu is easy to understand, since all meals besides one are just different numbers of chicken fingers; all having crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, finger sauce and the aforementioned toast. The menu ranges from two to six chicken fingers: two if you’re a child (this is the beginning and end of the kid’s menu) and six if you are a champion who holds no fear in your heart. I got the four-piece, and it was more than enough to fill this 6-foot-4-inch gentleman to the brim.

The one exception to this trend is a strangely broad chicken finger placed in a kaiser roll with lettuce; I believe these are called “sandwiches.” Raising Cane’s serves soda, tea and lemonade, and you can buy the chicken fingers in quantities as high as fifty if you so please. The simplicity here is staggering and really puts pressure on these chicken fingers.

Truth be told, they were fine. I came in during a dinner rush, which meant it took around ten minutes or so to get my food, but it was fresh. The fingers were still shiny coming from their fryer and managed to be juicy, if also stringy, though not distractingly so. There was one bite of transcendent perfection and honestly, that was enough for me to walk away happy. The Cane’s sauce that comes with the meals enhances the experience, but not in a way that would surprise you. Think Freddy’s fry sauce or any other house-made sauce that’s just ketchup, mayo and some “spices.”

My consolation for a lack of toast was an extra portion of anything else in the combo, so I ordered extra cole slaw and tried some on a chicken finger. Nothing was really achieved by this. It just tasted like cole slaw on top of a chicken finger, but I had to follow the mandate of science. The crinkle-cut fries were also bland, and the sweet tea was neither too sweet nor insufficiently sweet.

It was only after I left the restaurant and got into my car that it hit me: this is a restaurant for picky eaters. Think of your picky eater friends. You take them to a nice restaurant and what do they get every time? That’s right, they get chicken fingers. If this was their intended purpose, Raising Cane’s has achieved it spectacularly. I hope it stays in Manhattan for a very long time, because sometimes you need a place where you know exactly what you want, because it’s the only thing on the menu.

Micah Drake is a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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