Reviewed: Chicken pepper jack wrap

By Dan Goubert | 11/8/15 10:00pm

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GVL / Dan Goubert Chicken pepper jack wrap


From discount Halloween candy to the Thanksgiving turkey, November is a great month for food. But is Grand Valley State University's newest food offering good enough to make you put away the Reese’s? I decided to investigate for the good of GVSU students, their stomachs and, of course, their wallets.

Campus dining debuted the chicken pepper jack wrap as a limited-time offer for November. The wrap features grilled chicken breast, pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, lettuce and ranch dressing, all neatly wrapped up in a flour tortilla like an edible early Christmas present. A standard wrap with a fountain drink is considered a “super value pick” by campus dining and will set you back $6.

Biting into my thick wrap that was roughly the size of a TI-84 calculator, I was first struck with the strong, tasty tag-team of ranch and pico de gallo. The two dance a flavorful tango: pico de gallo leads with juicy tomatoes, biting onion undertones and a hint of lime, while the ranch follows with a healthy dose of creamy buttermilk.

However, I was disappointed to find that any peppery kick from the pepper jack cheese was completely drowned out by this sea of ranch and tomatoes. If you have enough extra cheddar in your pocket, I recommend springing for double cheese on your wrap.

Since the ranch and pico de gallo have the heft of a tidal wave, I was glad I had the crispy, crunchy iceberg lettuce to slow the flow. However, even these vegetable sandbags weren’t enough to stop the tsunami of dressing; before long, my formerly dense tortilla became soggy and threatened to explode like a floury water balloon.

The moral of the story? Eat this quickly, unless you like chicken raining down onto your lap.

Speaking of the grilled chicken, I was likewise left wishing for a more distinct and juicy flavor. Instead, the dry and chewy chicken acted more like those flowery adjectives I cram into my essays to extend the word count: all filler, no real meaning. I could see this wrap being much more memorable with richly seasoned beef or pork in place of the chicken.

But, I couldn’t stay mad at this chicken pepper jack wrap for long. Its unique blend of two flavor-packed dressings over a meaty base and pleasantly chewy tortilla rang a familiar, tasty bell for me.

That’s right: this wrap is essentially GVSU’s version of a Taco Bell chicken soft taco. So if you’re one of those many students itching for a Taco Bell on campus, this wrap might just be the satisfying scratch you need.

Of course, it’s worth noting that campus dining locations will let you customize your wrap, too. They offer the option to toast the wrap, as well as a wealth of optional toppings. Those hoping for more spice should pile on the jalapeños, and those turned off by bland chicken can substitute in the much more robust Teriyaki chicken. Fair warning, though, don’t be surprised when that moister chicken melts through the tortilla even faster.

All customization aside, the default recipe chicken pepper jack wrap is a strong showing from campus dining. While I wish they had jacked up the pepper jack and beefed up the meat, it still earns seven gold stars out of 10 from me. It would have been seven golden brown stars, but I chose not to toast my wrap.

The chicken pepper jack wrap is available at Engrained, the Seidman Café, Fuel and Kleiner Market. Visit www.facebook.com/GVSUFOOD for more news about GVSU food from campus dining.

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