Challenge: The Chicken Party – Finding Nanaimo’s Best Rotisserie Chicken

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Yeah, we really did this.

Grocery store rotisserie chickens. We’ve likely all had one at one point or another. They’re fine, right? They’re probably all the same at each of the grocery stores in Nanaimo, right? Well, we weren’t so sure. Is there actually a noticeable difference in chicken quality between stores? If there IS a quality difference, then price isn’t the only characteristic that matters when deciding where to pick up a bird. Now we’ve got to think about taste, and value.

Determined to get to the bottom of this and crown the best rotisserie chicken in Nanaimo, we corralled a handful of (strangely) enthusiastic friends and threw a chicken party. Each attendee brought a chicken from a different grocery store. We laid them all out, put out a few side dishes, and let everyone try all the chickens they wanted to. We then all voted for our favourites. Everyone was given a green tag for their first choice (worth 2 votes) and a yellow tag for their second choice (worth one vote).

Without further ado, here are the results!

Save-On Foods (Brooks Landing and Country Club) – $12.99 – 1 point

This one was a bit unusual in that we had two chickens for Save-On, from separate locations. Firstly, we can report that there is no discernable difference between the two chickens. Secondly, we can report that these chickens were so unremarkable they wound in in dead last with one measly point between them.

Basically, these chickens were reasonably warm, tasted like chicken, and weren’t offensive. There was nothing interesting going on and our distinguished guests looked to other chickens. These are also tied for being the most expensive chickens on the list, making their value highly suspect.

Fairway Market – $12.99 – 3 points

This chicken was the tiniest of the bunch, and looked a bit desiccated and maybe overdone. Upon tasting, the group unanimously agreed it was way too dry. There should have been complementary gravy with this thing. Without it, it was literally difficult to chew and swallow. Still, the flavour from the seasoning was nice so it got a few votes.

Ultimately, it was too shrimpy to have ever been a contender, and sold way too late that it was all dried out. A poor showing for Fairway.

Real Canadian Superstore – $9.99 – 3 points

Also firmly in the “meh” realm is the rotisserie chicken from Superstore. Similarly to Fairway’s, this one looks like it might be a little overdone, but unlike that other chicken, it was plump and reasonably juicy. Actually we at NFB thought it was not too bad, but the guests were not big fans, awarding this chicken only three second choice tags.

The better news is that this chicken is only $9.99 and is one of the cheapest options on this list. So despite sharing the number of votes with the Fairway chicken, we felt it had way better value and deserved a higher position on this list.

Thrifty Foods – $12.99 – 5 points

This is the first chicken that was at least one person’s favourite for the night. We found it to be unremarkable – like the previous Save-On chickens – but there was something about it that at least a few poeple liked.

Ok, ok the chicken was warm, juicy, and well seasoned. You could do worse.

Country Grocer – $unsure – 6 points

Just edging out Thrifty Foods in popularity was the chicken from Country Grocer. Yeah yeah, we forgot to note the price on this one. Given it’s Country Grocer, though, it probably wasn’t cheap.

As with the other mid chickens, we don’t have much to report on this one, although we recall thinking it was pretty good. It was piping hot, which was a nice touch. It was also a bit greasy compared to some of the others, though. Two people favourite’d this one.

Quality Foods – $11.99 – 7 points

Now we’re getting places. Quality Foods made a good chicken that three people chose as the best. It looks nice, was warm, tasty, and juicy, and is a real contender. Surprisingly, it came in at $11.99 so there is decent value here too. We’re used to QF being ludicrously expensive so this was a nice surprise.

We aren’t fans of QF’s other hot foods (the “chinese” is particularly vile) so were happy to discover that they have a winner on their hands here. Good job QF. Don’t get greedy and jack that price, now.

Buy-Low Foods – $11.99 – 8 points

Stunned. That’s what we are. We always think of Buy-Low as a low-end grocery store. This is not because of its location at Harewood Ma – ahem – University Village, but because each time we’ve gone in there, the place has been deserted, the products appeared low grade, and the prices are anything but low. We expected their rotisserie chicken to be lame.

Nope! Here’s the lowly (get it?) Buy-Low killing it with their rotisserie chicken game. This chicken was hot, juicy, not too greasy, and it was aggressively seasoned, which we really liked. So did our guests, and three people chose it as their favourite of the night.

Costco – $7.99 – 15 points

The landslide winner of the evening was the chicken from Costco. This likely comes as no surprise to regular Costco shoppers who are used to accessing great deals on food (like that amazing $1.50 hot dog!) Even if this chicken was no good, at a $7.99 price point to almost feed a family, you just cannot go wrong.

But wait, there’s more. This chicken was DELICIOUS. We’re not sure if they brine their chickens before cooking them, but there was this delightful extra saltiness to the meat in addition to the seasoning that made it taste like more chicken-y chicken. It’s a winner on all counts and a hands down recommendation.

Conclusion

There you have it. Costco has the best rotisserie chicken in Nanaimo, and by a mile. Of course, Costco is not easily accessible. Some people don’t have memberships, and many who do realize it’s ridiculous to “pop in” to the warehouse for just one little thing. So if you find yourself in need of a rotisserie chicken, but not from there, really do give Buy-Low a try. It’s great! QF and Country Grocer are both good options too.

Let us know your favourites! Were our guests way off? If you like this kind of foolishness, check out our ranking of ketchup chips too!

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