Saturday, June 13, 2009

TBG Eats: Subway's Tuscan Chicken Melt

Current Weight: 167.0 lbs.

As a lifelong Californian, I've gone to war with visiting or transplanted New Yorkers over the West Coast interpretations of their favorite foods.

To them, our pizza toppings are an abomination; our bagels are the equivalent of dinner rolls and our chicken wings make Baby Jesus cry.

But, there is NOTHING on the menu more divisive than our sandwiches.

Let's be clear: There are some excellent delis in Southern California. Before I moved to San Diego,
Jerry' Deli in Hollywood was my favorite 4:00 AM hangout. They serve sandwiches as big as Mrs. Bootleg and a German potato salad that would've had me rooting against Jesse Owens if the Führer had put a scoop on my plate in 1936.

Here in San Diego,
D.Z. Akins is insanely popular, although I personally prefer the City Delicatessen in Hillcrest. So, how has the Subway chain won the San Diego Union-Tribune's "best sandwich" readers' poll for nine straight years?

I can think of three reasons: (1) Due to the runaway urban sprawl, the locals out here aren't likely to be blessed with a neighborhood to identify with, much less a neighborhood deli. (2) Subway's ads speak to Californians by focusing on health-consciousness. I mean, have you ever noticed how the chain goes on and on about its fresh veggie toppings, but doesn't say two words about the quality of its meat? (3) Shhh…Subway's not that bad.

Look, I get it. I should be supporting the mom n' pop coffee shop, instead of Starbucks. The small, family-owned bookstore has been decimated by Borders and Barnes & Noble. Independent, undiscovered musicians are the voice that big radio and the mainstream record industry don't want you to hear.

So sue me…sometimes I want a cheap meal I can carry out in three minutes or less. Oh, hell, let me quit beating around the bush…Subway has some good-ass sandwiches on their menu. The Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki is one of my weekly staples. The tuna fish is passable when I need a change of pace and almost every other sandwich they serve increases in quality with the words "extra chipotle southwest sauce".

The Tuscan Chicken Melt was previously released as part of that insipid dinner theatre ad campaign featuring
this guy, three years ago. It comes with white meat chicken strips seasoned with basil, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes and olive vinaigrette drizzled on top.

I'm not a big fan of the toasted sandwiches, as they tend to shred the roof of my mouth in ways only a bowl of Cap'n Crunch could. This one's not too painful on my palate, though. I had my sandwich served on white (natch) with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, provolone and salt & pepper.

The seasonings overpowered everything else within the Tuscan Chicken Melt, save for the onions and the dry, tasteless toast. I did like the vinaigrette and I'm tempted to taste the end result of this sandwich with the explicit order for it to be "swimming in vinaigrette".

There's some potential here, but it would take two or three more iterations for me to find it. Perhaps if it was not toasted, but the meat was heated and then topped with cheese and extra oil? What if I went with Subway's ersatz Swiss cheese instead of provolone?

Do real delis foster this much indecision?

Grade: 2 (out 5) Calories: 370, Fat: 9g (six-inch sub)


SHough610 said...

Time to put on my "white sportswriter writing about Barry Bonds" cap, ahem:

Shame on you, Cam.

:Takes off cap:

Quiznos dude. I can't stand Subway, but Quiznos is surprisingly good.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Hey, now, I like Quizno's. Compared to Subway, though, Quizno's sandwiches feel like four or five Thanksgivings in my stomach when I'm done.

And, their toasted bread turns the roof of my mouth into the end of every 1998 Ken Shamrock match.

Blondezilla said...

I miss the City Delicatessen...I've had many a tasty meal. Good sandwiches are hard to come by here in Germany (bread, butter, meat and cheese) does not make for a tasty meal. Where are the condiments?!

Regarding sandwich chains, has Jersey Mike's migrated to the West Coast? They make a pretty tasty sub that even my father (from Jersey) will eat.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Looks like they've got locations in Beverly Hills and Bakersfield. I will continue to wait patiently...

JPinAZ said...

They opened a Jersey Mike's down the road from me here in Phoenix. Their sandwiches were tasty, but nowhere near the value of what they cost.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Sez the guy who's sitting on a veritable gold mine of '90 Upper Deck cards.

Tom said...

My mom has run a deli for most of my life so I can't quite get passed the compressed meat product that passes for lunch meat at Subway. However, you're correct that their condiments are top notch -- which makes sense considering the liberal use of them to prevent folks from noticing that their roast beef tastes like cardboard with a beat of meat seasoning.

Tom said...

"bit" of meat seasoning.

Now that's an epic Freudian slip.