REVIEW: Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich

Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich

I don’t care what the textbooks say. I don’t care about the debates over the Reuben sandwich’s origins: whether it originated from a Nebraskan grocer’s weekly poker ritual or from a New York delicatessen’s signature “Reuben Special.”

In my eyes—and taste buds—the Reuben was obviously invented by Ruben Studdard. I mean, what else could Ruben have been up to after winning American Idol Season 2, while the more famous runner-up Clay Aiken became a Christmas album mainstay in my grandma’s CD player for years?

And before you ask how Ruben could invent the Reuben when the sandwich first appeared in the 1920s, the answer’s time travel. Duh. Next question.

Okay, that explanation may be more impractical than a Reuben Goldberg machine, but I needed a slipshod introduction for a sandwich as slipshod as Subway’s new Corned Beef Reuben. Because as I soon found out, expecting a fast food joint to do justice to the Reuben’s nearly 100-year legacy was a bit unrealistic.

Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich 2

But let’s start with the rye highs. The popularity of Subway’s Italian Herbs & Cheese and Honey Oat breads suggests that consumers like their bread studded with enough stuff to make a BeDazzler blush, and Subway’s new Rye bread fulfills that desire by baking lightly crunchy caraway seeds into every sub.

The bread itself is dense, earthy, and spiced, while the seeds pop with a sweet anise bite. The taste may be slightly too sour for Hawaiian roll or Wonder Bread veterans, but fans of aged, yeasty bread will appreciate its subtleties.

My only gripe is that the rye isn’t marbled, though that kind of doughy swirl might’ve looked too much like a rolled yoga mat for Subway’s liking.

Meat and cheese are this Reuben’s other strongest elements. While the corned beef isn’t particularly juicy, potently peppered, or too different from Subway roast beef, it’s still thick, tender, and salty enough to give the sandwich a savory, meaty twang.

By which I mean you’ll want to twang an acoustic guitar string after each bite.

The Swiss cheese is an underrated, binding force in Subway’s Reuben. It may have all the complexity of a melted Kraft Single, but it still brings creamy dairy balance to the bread and sauerkraut’s sourness.

Speaking of the sauerkraut: it’s bad, and that’s coming from someone who adores sauerkraut enough to give it an honorary seat at his wedding. Subway’s sauerkraut is far too wet, mushy, and flavorlessly acidic, lacking the light crispness and pickled intricacies of good sauerkraut. But I suppose if I were mashed into a cube and left under Subway’s sneeze guard all day, I’d feel sad and squishy, too.

And the Thousand Island Dressing? It’s barely there, providing a light, underlying fatty flavor with faint mayo and tomato notes. I’d say I only tasted three islands at most, and one of those was Rhode Island, whose authentic island status is questionable at best.

Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich 3

Eating the sandwich together, I mostly taste a sour-sweet war between sauerkraut and bread, while the Reuben’s less flavorful, meaty and creamy children beg their parents to stop fighting. It’s far from authentic, and your limited Reuben enjoyment will hinge on your ingredient balance: I recommend going light on ‘kraut, doubling up on cheese, and getting dressing on the side to add at your discretion.

Better yet, take the $5.25 you could’ve spent on a 6” Subway Reuben to Walmart deli and buy enough loose ingredients to assemble a much tastier haphazard Reuben in the parking lot. Just don’t forget to play Clay Aiken’s Merry Christmas with Love in the car while you do it.

(Nutrition Facts – 6” sandwich, no vegetables – 450 calories, 15 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1770 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 38 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.25
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: BeDazzlingly good rye bread. Guitar strummingly decent corned beef. The complimentarily congealing properties of a Swiss Kraft Single. Parking lot deli sandwiches. Sending my warmest regards to Ruben Studdard, wherever he may be.
Cons: Not authentically Reuben-esque (Reubenic?) enough to justify the cost. Sauerkraut that leaves me sour. Thousand Island Dressing that’s 997 islands short. Not being able to make a “Why? Bread” joke because the bread was actually good.

REVIEW: Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies

Every fall I can count on two things: 1) Nick Saban and Alabama will absolutely obliterate every football team in the SEC. 2) Pumpkin spice food products will be thrusted in my face at every grocery store, restaurant, and fast food sandwich shop in America.

Yes, sandwich shop. Thanks to the ubiquitous up-sell of the 60-cent Subway cookie, the most popular flavor of the fall can help you forgot how mediocre your lunch was.

I like to think of pumpkin spice as the flavor version of Alabama’s football dynasty. The hype is everywhere and, for the most part, the hype is deserved. Sure, the Crimson Tide might trip up once a year, just like how we’ll get a dud like Pumpkin Spice M&M’s every once in awhile, but for the most part, pumpkin spice is unstoppable.

In a lot of ways, the rise of pumpkin spice has correlated with the decline of apple pie, autumn’s previously unstoppable flavor, that’s also a new Subway cookie flavor. You might think of apple pie as the Miami of flavors: Once a shoo-in to compete for a national title, but it’s now a run-of-the-mill ACC middleweight that loses to a depleted Notre Dame team.

It’s pretty much the same when it comes to Subway’s cookies.

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies 2

Like Alabama’s balanced offense and stifling defense, the Subway Pumpkin Spice Cookie was seemingly flawless. Textually, the edges were crunchy and the interior was chewy with strong notes of ginger and molasses dominating each bite. The cookie tasted like a ginger snap on steroids. The white confectionery chips added vanilla-flavored bursts of sweetness throughout the cookie, while the sweet taste of cinnamon lingered on my tongue even after I finished the cookie. If there’s one downside it’s that the cookie tastes more like a chewy ginger snap than a pumpkin cookie.

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies 3

The Apple Pie Cookie is not nearly as good as the pumpkin spice one. If we’re talking football, it loses by at least three touchdowns. The Apple Pie Cookie was much sweeter and, like Miami Hurricanes football during the early 2000s, it’s a sexy cookie on the outside. How can it not be with “naturally sweetened” apple chunks baked right into the dough? Yet like the Hurricanes dynasty coming undone, it’s got too many bells and whistles to work. The taste of clove and nutmeg is far too floral, while the sweetened apple chunks taste like someone freeze-dried applesauce. The texture of the chunks is off-putting and hyper sweet, and the entire cookie doesn’t really taste like pie.

Is pumpkin spice’s dominance over the seasonal flavor world annoying? Maybe, but like Alabama’s continued destruction of college football parity, it’s pretty incredible. Subway’s Pumpkin Spice Cookie only adds to that legacy, and is far and away a better end to a mediocre sub than the Apple Pie cookie.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available.)

Purchased Price: 60 cents (each)
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Pumpkin Spice)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Apple Pie)
Pros: Pumpkin spice cookie has a wonderfully complex texture that’s crunchy on the edges and chewy in the center. Deep, warm sweetness of molasses mixed with ginger, butter, and vanilla.
Cons: Pumpkin Spice cookie lacks deep pumpkin flavor. Cream Cheese chunks would have been better than “confectionery chips”. Apple Spice cookies tastes like what I’d imagine an apple pie air freshener to taste like. Unnatural tasting natural apple chunks.

REVIEW: Subway Monterey Chicken Melt with Subway’s New Grilled Chicken Strips

Subway Monterey Chicken Melt wGrilled Chicken

I’m told that Monterey, California is a beautiful waterfront community with awesome beaches and amazing weather, but I’ve never been there so I’m forced to take the propaganda from the city’s website at its word. Likewise, I’m told Subway’s new Monterey Chicken Melt comes with improved grilled chicken strips which contain no artificial flavors or preservatives, and taste better because they are better.

Whatever that means.

Naturally suspicious of a chain which claims to have single-handedly condensed one giant man into a single pants leg, this is not a claim I can submit to without a little verification.

Subway Monterey Chicken Melt comparison

Subway likes its slogan “Eat Fresh,” but when your oven roasted chicken consists of a somewhat flabby and unnaturally opaque breast of what, presumably, was once a chicken, you’ve earned the right to be called out on the freshness front. For those of you who enjoy the slightly chewy texture and brothy flavor notes of the roasted chicken breast, I have good news. The sandwich to the left features it in all its glory, right on down to the fake black grill marks which are apparently part of the “roasting” process.

Those marks, believe it or not, look suspiciously similar to the ones on the new grilled chicken strips.

Fortunately we speak of two different breasts.

Subway Monterey Chicken Melt wGrilled Chicken 4

The grilled chicken strips on the Monterey Chicken Melt have a much less artificial and salty flavor, while also giving off a pleasant, albeit mild, char-grilled taste which could almost pass as smoky. The portion in a six-inch sub is modest, and the strips lack the proverbial if not injected juiciness of the “roasted” chicken breast, but the flavor is respectable by fast food standards.

While nowhere near as fresh or authentically chargrilled as Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken, I enjoyed the new strips, and enjoyed them on Subway’s “new” sub, which is really just a combination of cheese and protein when you think about it.

Subway Monterey Chicken Melt wGrilled Chicken 2

And let me be real with you here: the new chicken is an improvement, but the Monterey Cheddar makes this sub. It melts perfectly—neither oozing oil nor turning elastic—and adds a subtle milky tanginess, lactic sweetness, and complexity to the sandwich. The vegetables—Subway’s usual combination of tomato, cucumbers, spinach, peppers, and red onion—are fresh and purpose serving, but the sub still tasted a little plain.

I get that Subway wants to keep the attention on the chicken and the cheese, but not marketing the sub with a sauce proves a blunder. At the very least, I’d recommend customizing it with your favorite from Subway’s offerings.

Subway Monterey Chicken Melt wRoasted Chicken

Subway’s Monterey Chicken Melt isn’t very revolutionary, and can more or less be ordered with a Roasted Chicken breast—fake grill marks and salty rib meat aftertaste and all—at fifty cents less than the advertised sub with the new grilled chicken. I did just that, and found it tasty in its own way, the cheese playing a more profound role in offsetting the overly chicken broth flavor of the roasted breast. Still, the flavor of the two sandwiches wasn’t substantially different given the toppings, and had I ordered the same sauce on both my subs, I imagine the flavors would be even more similar.

So does that mean the new, “expertly” prepared grilled chicken is a sham?

Does that mean Monterey’s beaches are actually full of shipwrecked catamarans and the weather is really a none-too-balmy -26 degrees?

Probably not, but what it does mean is that if you’re loading up your sub with fixings, cheese, and sauce, you probably won’t notice the modest, but authentic, grilled taste of the new strips. That’s ok with me. Sometimes less is more—a fact I know the guy they shoved into one pants leg would agree with.

(Nutrition Facts – 6-inch sub on Hearty Italian – 360 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 27 grams of protein.)

Item: Subway Monterey Chicken Melt with Subway’s New Grilled Chicken Strips
Purchased Price: $4.75
Size: 6-inch sub
Purchased at: Subway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Not the same chicken as the roasted chicken. Good, authentic, and non-artificial tasting char-grilled flavor. Clean tasting chicken strips lack the enhanced chewiness of typical fast food roasted or grilled chicken. Monterey Cheddar finally getting its due. Researching possible vacation sites amidst another East Coast polar-vortex.
Cons: Subtle grill flavor might be a little bland for some. Still not as juicy or flavorful as Chick-fil-A’s grilled chicken breast. Lack of a sauce fails to make the flavors pop. Bread-to-meat ratio lags behind premium sub chains.

REVIEW: Subway Atlantic Canada Lobster Sandwich (Canada)

Subway Atlantic Canada Lobster Sandwich

I know what you’re thinking: lobster from Subway? That sounds amazing.

Oh, I’m sorry, is today not Opposite Day? Well then, you’re probably thinking that a lobster sandwich from Subway sounds like an iffy proposition, to put it kindly.

Remember this, however: McDonald’s rolled out the McLobster to Ontario last summer, and it wasn’t half bad. It wasn’t great, certainly, but it was okay. So when it comes to potentially sketchy lobster sandwiches from fast food joints, you might be surprised! To quote Quato: open your mind.

The six-inch sandwich costs eight bucks, which puts it about in the price vicinity of a real, authentic lobster roll. But if you’re buying this sandwich, I think it’s safe to assume you’re nowhere near where an actual lobster roll can be procured.

Of course, being Subway, you can get your sandwich topped with any number of veggies and sauces. However, for a “truly Maritime” experience, Subway recommends keeping it simple, with just lettuce on Italian bread, which is obviously what I did. If you’re not going to be true to the Maritimes, what’s the point, right?

Subway Atlantic Canada Lobster Sandwich Innards

The first few bites weren’t great. Consisting entirely of shredded, piddly little bits of lobster, there wasn’t a whole lot of flavour or texture; it was basically just a vaguely seafood-flavoured mush. It was unimpressive, to say the least. But pretty much every mouthful after that had at least one reasonably generous chunk of lobster in it. It’s probably about a 60/40 ratio of shreds to chunks. That’s not great, but let’s be honest — it’s a lobster sandwich from Subway. It could have been a lot worse.

The lobster was a bit overcooked, but the chunks actually had a pretty decent texture — they weren’t too stringy or dry. They also had a pleasant flavour, without any of the fishy undertones you might expect from a budget lobster sandwich like this (then again, eight bucks for a six-inch sandwich probably doesn’t fall into the budget category).

Subway Atlantic Canada Lobster Sandwich Closeup

However, aside from the mild lobster taste, there really isn’t all that much flavour here; the mayonnaise adds very little, other than to bind the lobster together, and aside from that there was no real seasoning that I could taste. It was a bit bland. If I were to get this again, I’d probably get it with a sauce of some sort, or at the very least, salt and pepper. I know, I know — this would go against Subway’s wishes, and would jeopardize the sub’s status as a true Maritime experience. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said “Those who would give up Maritime authenticity for a little bit of flavour deserve neither.”

That’s the quote, right? What, you weren’t aware that Franklin was a huge lobster roll man? Well, now you know. You’ve learned something today. You’re welcome.

For whatever reason I was under the impression that one of Subway’s suggestions was to toast the bread, though according to their website that isn’t the case. Toasting isn’t a bad idea in theory (and in fact the bread in real lobster rolls is typically buttered and toasted), but Subway uses some kind of microwave/conventional oven hybrid to speed things up. This normally works okay, but when there’s no meat or cheese to even out the heat, you wind up with dried out, microwavey bread.

I actually liked this slightly better than the McLobster (which, I will admit, isn’t saying a whole lot). The chunks of lobster were surprisingly generous and reasonably tasty. It’s on the pricey side — and calling it an authentic Maritime experience is kind of laughable — but for what it is, it’s not bad at all.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on Subway Canada website.)

Item: Subway Atlantic Canada Lobster Sandwich (Canada)
Purchased Price: $8.00 CAN
Size: 6-inch sub
Purchased at: Subway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: A decent amount of fairly sizable lobster chunks. Lobster isn’t too overcooked and tastes okay. Following Benjamin Franklin’s advice and seeking Maritime authenticity.
Cons: Textureless lobster shreds. Dried out toasted bread. Expensive. Needs some kind of sauce or seasoning. Maritime authenticity at Subway is a pipe dream.

REVIEW: Subway Pepperoni Flatizza

Subway Pepperoni Flatizza

It was fascinating to watch the 60-something-year-old woman create my Subway Pepperoni Flatizza.

She somewhat violently plopped a regular Subway flatbread onto the preparation table, treating it like it was a ball of pizza dough. But after that she took her time and made my Flatizza with care.

Perhaps she took her time because no one was behind me in line. Or maybe she wanted to admire my dashing good looks for as long as she could because I reminded her of a long lost love.

With a tiny ladle, the cutest serving instrument I’d ever seen, she scooped up three servings of sauce and placed them in the middle of the flatbread. And then using the ladle’s head, she began spreading the sauce across the flatbread with a short raking motion that’s usually learned from office zen garden ownership.

Her glove covered hands then grabbed several slices of pepperoni. I thought those large slices would be awesome to see on the Flatizza, but then she stacked the slices, took her bread carving knife, and cut the pepperoni into strips.

“NOOOOOO!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled internally, but expressed externally with a quiet sigh. But then I calmed myself down after realizing it’s still the same amount of pepperoni but just in strip form…and they were going to be covered with cheese.

Wait. What?

“NOOOOOO!!! PEPPERONI GOES ON TOP OF THE CHEESE!” I screamed on the inside, but expressed externally with the massaging of my temples.

She then sprinkled two handfuls of shredded cheese on top, creating a thick layer that would shrink while inside Subway proprietary toaster oven. While she did make my Flatizza with care, what came out of the oven looked like something that was hastily prepared by a drunk monkey.

Subway Pepperoni Flatizza Closeup

The Flatizza was then cut into four square-ish pieces with what I believe is Subway’s proprietary Flatizza cutter and then placed into a small pizza box.

I can imagine it’s hard to look at the pictures in this post and not think, “That’s going to suck.” However, while it may not look very appetizing, I have to say I liked it.

Subway Pepperoni Flatizza Closerup

The cheese melted nicely, was gooey, and had a indistinct cheesy flavor; the sauce had a cheap, but pleasant tangy and slightly sweet flavor; the sauce mostly hides the pepperoni’s flavor; it’s weird to see orange cheese on top of a pizza; only the edges of the mostly flavorless flatbread are somewhat crispy; and it’s not even close to being as tasty as anything from Pizza Hut, Domino’s, or Papa John’s.

Yes, I did just type, cheap sauce, mostly flavorless flatbread, very little pepperoni flavor, and not as good as anything from big pizza chains. “So how can you like it?” you’re probably asking through your monitor.

I guess the only way I can explain it is to say it’s just one of those things where so many wrongs make a right.

(Nutrition Facts – 500 calories, 230 calories from fat, 26 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 1340 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 26 grams of protein.)

Item: Subway Pepperoni Flatizza
Purchased Price: $4.00
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Subway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Despite all the negatives, I liked it. So many wrongs seem to have made a right. Sauce has a pleasant tangy and slightly sweet flavor. Cheese was melted nicely and gooey.
Cons: Cheap tasting sauce. Flatbread is crispy only on the edges. Pepperoni is masked by the sauce. Weird to see orange cheese on a pizza and pepperoni below the cheese. Not even close to being as good as anything from a big pizza chain.