I’ve made my feelings on Subway very clear. Somehow, the people of the U.S. disagree with me and Subway seems to be everywhere, including one right around the corner from my old office. Of course that meant that as soon as they put up posters (and aired TV ads) advertising their new rotisserie style chicken and the Chicken Caesar Melt, I was compelled to give it a taste. Going into the experience, I was cautiously optimistic: the new chicken hopefully would taste like real meat, and it’s difficult to make a bad chicken Caesar sandwich, right?

Checking Subway’s site now, it appears the Chicken Caesar Melt is no longer available (I ate it five weeks ago!). However, the new chicken is still at Subway, so this post isn’t wholly gratuitous (like this one). The new chicken is “hand-pulled all white meat chicken, raised without antibiotics.” I don’t have a description of the sandwich itself, but I can vouch that it had chicken, Caesar dressing, and vegetables, all contained within bread. It was a sandwich.

img_5020

Before I get into the actual description, I do want to compliment the worker behind the counter who took my order. When ordering, I mentioned that I was there to try the new sandwich, he enthusiastically told me he ate it yesterday and really liked it. Yes, he seemed as if he was high, but I don’t think I’ve ever received such an enthusiastic thumbs up on an order from a fast food employee before and that deserves to be recognized.

Anyway, I ordered my sandwich, but then arose a common Subway problem: the customization issue. I went to order the Chicken Caesar Melt as they intended it to be made. I don’t want to customize anything to suit my tastes, I want the company to decide on the contents of a sandwich and sell it to me. Subway does not do this. I was able to list my ingredients by looking at the picture, but I didn’t know what bread to order. I got Italian bread, which felt wrong, but I was under the gun and no natural pairing with the sandwich jumped out at me. Also, I customized the sandwich because I wasn’t going to eat raw onions.

Lastly, the price seemed expensive. It was $7.06 for a 6-inch sub and a 21-oz. soda. The sandwich itself was $4.75, but at $7, I’d like to think they could throw in a bag of chips or something.

img_5022

Now onto the sandwich! Opening up the paper wrapping, the bread looked slightly unappetizing. The bread was toasted, but didn’t look like it had any crust and it looked a little greasy. Sauce also seemed to be overflowing. I could smell the Caesar dressing, and hot Caesar dressing has a certain smell to it which is not appealing. I opened up the bread to look at the inside, and I have to say that the chicken looked like actual chicken!

img_5023

My first bite was lettuce, tomato, and dressing. It made me eat my words because the bread did have a crusty texture. My second bite actually contained some chicken. It had the correct texture and I felt like I was eating an actual chicken sandwich, as opposed to a low grade meat sandwich. When tasted on its own the chicken was a little bland. Rotisserie style isn’t necessarily the most flavorful chicken style, as it usually needs something else (seasoning, sauce) to carry the flavor. Here, Subway was heavily depending on the rest of the sandwich to impart flavor. I should also note that they did not skimp on the chicken. I’ve been critical of their meat portions in the past, but I felt like the amount of chicken was appropriate.

img_5025

 

As I was eating, I ran across a sandwich construction problem. If I took a bite on the side of the bread with the cut, I really only ate lettuce and tomato. If I took a bite at the heel of the bread, I had a fully composed bite. So I’d alternate between bland and better bites which was disappointing. And the better bites weren’t quite good. The sandwich itself was a little bland. It needed salt or pepper or hot sauce. Something. Maybe this is my fault for taking off the onions or not taking advantage of the customization options, but it’s also a failure of Subway where they’re selling a sandwich which needs to be altered to have more taste.

img_5028

The cheese situation on this sandwich was a little weird. They put on provolone slices, but at the end, they also sprinkle on some Parmesan. I really liked the Parmesan addition. I could always taste the Parmesan bites and they were the best part of the sandwich. It made the sandwich taste more Caesar-like, and it was a subtle add on that I wouldn’t expect a chain to nail perfectly, so legitimate kudos are in order. The provolone was fine. No strong taste, but the melty texture fit the sandwich.

img_5029

While eating, something about the sandwich felt slightly off. I think the problem was the dressing. It could have been caused by the toasting process, but the dressing smelt weird and tasted slightly bitter. I generally like Caesar dressing, but this was off-putting. I’m honestly not sure what the problem is. Does Subway normally have a Caesar dressing as an option? I hope not and that this was them not working out a scalable recipe.

img_5027

As I continued to eat, the bread started falling apart which was disappointing. As a chain which uses bread as a selling point, there should have been a stronger performance here. I wasn’t expecting the best Italian bread ever, but it should have stood up to the sandwich, or at least imparted more flavor. Instead, I was barely holding together the sandwich as I finished. At least those bites were fairly moist and had some good flavor. Lastly, the veggies were mainly filler. I had spinach, which didn’t have much taste. The tomato also was tasteless, but at least added some texture to the sandwich.

If Subway still offered this sandwich and I was forced to eat a sandwich at Subway, I would eat this sandwich. Yes, those are heavy qualifiers, but they’re true. The Chicken Caesar Melt is legitimately the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten at Subway. The bites with the Parmesan were good! Unfortunately, too much of the sandwich was bland or had that weird Caesar taste.

I question whether this appeals to a typical Subway patron though. At $4.75 for a 6-inch, this isn’t cheap and it’s not a big sandwich. If you opt for the foot long, then you’re at a price point where you’re close enough to just going to  restaurant for a legitimate meal which would include a side, and would taste better. If Subway’s big appeal is food for a cheap price, this doesn’t fit the bill.

Also, in that same vein, I wouldn’t say I was full after the sandwich. I didn’t feel hungry, but I was in that in between where I definitely could have and wanted to eat more, and I definitely felt hungry in the middle of the afternoon.

 

 

Advertisements