So today was my second foray into the exciting world of cut throat culinary corporatism. A critical look at the second of three sub shop chains that dot the landscape like coffee shops of old.
Last week we looked at the classic Mr. Submarine, rebranded as the hip new Mr. Sub. While today we look at the fastest growth chain is submarine history, Subway.
I remember when subway launched. An aggressive corporate business plan to take over the market across North America. Two thousand shops by 2000. A new take on the classic, more toppings, more selection, not better then sliced bread, but a new way to slice bread, and a clever wallpaper decor of early transportation subways from turn of the century New York.
It was exciting, it was new, it was brilliant. I don’t remember if they hit their goal of two thousand by the time they intended, but they have surely surpassed it now. Subway shops are everywhere. Two are within a three minute walk from my office. Three if you walk fast.
I remember my first experience, watching the sandwich craftsman deftly cut a wedge from the top of a long bun, stuffing my chosen meats and vegetables into the canoe shaped base, bathing it in a selection of sauces and capping it with that triangular wedge of bread.
As time went on the novelty wore off, for both me, and the chain of stores. No longer a wedge, the standard horizantal cut was deemed enough, but the topping selection grew, the bread selection rose like yeast, and the variations stretched the definition of submarine sandwich to the breaking point. A flat bread wrapped around a farmers breakfast of eggs bacon ham sausage and cheese, isn’t really a sub. It’s breakfast on an eatable plate.
To keep the test fair I ordered the same cold cut sub as from Mr.Sub and the same toppings, even if there were questionable options for the more adventuresome, like spinach or avacado or Jalipino peppers, or fried eggs for all I know.
The selection of cold cuts is of lower standards, summer sausage, pepperoni and the inexpensive balongia that has limply hung over the edge of sad high school brown bag sandwiches since the era of two family income began.
The green pepper was crisp and cool, the tomato tart and sweet. The olives flavourful and the lettuce as wilted as that on a Big Mac too long under a heat lamp. Filling, well presented with less mess then the somewhat sloppy Mr.Sub that I consumed the week before. A feat in itself with my fondness for gobs of mayo on my sandwiches. I took my dinner to a reasonably clean table in the seating area where three other people were enjoying their own subs and one was mumbling to himself about not being his fault over and over. Down town London has a wide variety of characters. Enough to rival the topping selection of all the sub shops combined. Still this was four more people then I have seen gathered in a Mr.Sub this year.
The sub was filling yet plain. Even with my dazzling assortment of toppings and the trifecta of meat products, it lacked umph, it was plain, boring and demure in its interaction with my taste buds. A lecture on algebra for the mouth. The fellow next to me was more flavourful in his ramblings then was my meal. Perhaps if it had been cut into a canoe first it would have been tastier. But as it was, it was just food. Good, but not good enough.