One of the gaping holes in all the reviews of protein bars that I've done on this site is products produced by Quest. Well, I finally got some in stock via a Facebook promotion where they mailed me a couple to sample, so the first bar I'll be sampling for the blog is the Chocolate Brownie bar. This bar clocks in at a fairly robust 2.12 ounces and contains 170 calories and twenty grams of protein. In terms of size, caloric count and protein content, this is a very close competitor to Pure Protein bars that I have reviewed many times on this blog. Quest bars are low carb, gluten free and made with no artificial sweeteners or sugars, so they are one of the more healthy protein bars that you can find out there. Also, they are only available online, so you have to buy them there which makes it a bit of a hassle and is also the reason why I've never reviewed one for this blog. When you buy them online, they are roughly in the $2.00 range per bar.
One of the first things you notice as you unwrap this baby is that it looks exactly like you'd expect it to look based on its name...a chocolate brownie. It had the "crispy" exterior that a typical brownie would have, although it was quite stick and that's not always the case with brownies. Other than that, the interior of the bar looked like the interior of a brownie and there were very tiny almond bits in the bar mix, although they were barely noticeable and I didn't even realize they were there until I read the ingredient list and went looking for them.
Quest offers a suggestion on the packaging to microwave the bars before eating them or you could just eat them as is. I wanted to do both, so I ate one half of the bar at room temperature and the other half of the bar after microwaving it for fifteen seconds (per the instructions on the wrapper). What I found was that your method of eating produces two very different experiences, so I'll review them separately.
Room Temperature: biting into this, it was remarkable how tough this bar was to chew. It actually gave my jaw a workout and actually sort of hurt because I had to put forth so much effort to chew it. The chocolate flavoring was perceptible, but not overly sweet. Basically, it was just like a bland, dense brownie and not really all that great.
Microwave: after heating it for fifteen seconds, I took it out the of the microwave and it was so soft and "doughy" that it nearly fell apart in my hands. Just that experience alone made me eager to take my first bite. Unfortunately, the taste didn't nearly back up the eagerness that I felt. Don't get me wrong, it was tasty, but I was expecting a heck of a lot more. The chocolate flavoring was basically the same, although when it was warm, it definitely gave it more of a positive impression in my mind. The heat also made the bar more gooey and frankly, eating this bar warm was an entirely different eating experience.
Buy It or Fly By It? Since these are only available online, this is a tough call. Still, I'm going to give it a BUY IT rating despite that. The only caveat is that the BUY IT rating is for the microwaved/warm bar only. If you are going to eat this cold or at room temperature, stay way. If you heat it up, this is a above average, tasty protein bar. When you mix that with the fact that it packs quite a protein punch in a limited amount of calories, you've got a winner. I've got one more freebie to try (Vanilla Almond Crunch), so you'll see that one sometime in the future.