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.

REVIEW: Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt

Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt 1

We live in an interconnected world. Elvis walked into the White House and shook Nixon’s hand. Abbott and Costello met Frankenstein. Steve Urkel annoyed both Uncle Jesse and Patrick Duffy. I once sat in a Ford Explorer with Eddie Bauer logos on it. We’re all star stuff, guys. It’s exciting.

When titans meet, it’s a reminder that we’re all on the same team, that we all indeed occupy the same universe. Tommy Lee Jones was Al Gore’s college dorm mate, y’all. Betty Crocker uses Hershey chocolate in its mixes! The Justice League fought the Avengers. Doritos Locos Tacos!

So when Subway unveiled its Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt, I was eager to get one in my maw. I mean, I had already been manually putting chips on my sandwich for years. Wait. Sorry. We’ve already been manually putting chips on our sandwiches for years. (Right? Right?! High fives all around.) Now two giant corporations are joining forces to put chips on a sandwich.

They have research teams and focus groups and everything. This thing should be a masterpiece. I bought a lobster bib and scratched out the picture of a lobster and replaced it with a drawing of a smiling lobster eating a sandwich with chips on it. I’m ready. I’m cheering in my seat.

Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt 5

Unfortunately, I am loath to report that Subway and Frito-Lay came together and birthed the half-breed antichrist of sandwiches. It gurgled and writhed in pain and asked me to put it out of its misery, and after I ate it, I asked the same of myself.

The tragic journey begins in the Subway assembly line. “I want to make it look like the poster,” I say. The sandwich artist grumbles something incoherent and conjures a foot-long flatbread from the ether. The chicken comes pre-sauced and looks all wet. Two (2!) small bags of Fritos are dumped onto the sandwich. “Whoa, I’ve never seen that before,” cries out the guy behind me in line. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles are the ingredients I saw on the poster, so that’s what I get.

Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt 4

The Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt looks weak. The flatbread gives it a limp disposition, and it’s wider than the regular loaves, so the ingredients look scattered like they were dumped into the bottom of a garbage can. Taking the first bite, though, is not bad. The flatbread is chewy and floury like a pita. Going forward, however, the hot part of the sandwich has warmed over the should-be-cold lettuce and tomato (Gross!). The slightly sour pickles tasted out of place in what is, I guess, a Subway version of a soft taco.

The barely spicy enchilada sauce on the chicken has rendered the chicken tasteless—the protein is purely there for texture. Worst of all, the Fritos have strangely become soggy in the five-minute journey from bag to sandwich to mouth. It kind of tastes like if you crushed up a Double Decker Taco Supreme (with chicken, hold the sour cream) into a sandwich bag and then left it in the sun for an hour. The sickly nuclear warmth of the concoction stuck to my stomach for a good 45 minutes.

Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt 3

Elvis died on a toilet and Nixon had to resign from being president. Frankenstein has to be depicted in I, Frankenstein. Steve Urkel never worked again. Eddie Bauer filed for bankruptcy. Titans meet but sometimes the story doesn’t always have a happy ending. Sometimes it’s more like when Freddy meets Jason or when Alien fights Predator, or like whenever they try to make a movie with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. Sometimes it just ruins chips on a sandwich.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 inch sandwich – 580 calories, 240 calories from fat, 26 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 1170 milligrams of sodium, 60 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, 25 grams of protein.)

Item: Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt
Purchased Price: $6.50
Size: Footlong
Purchased at: Subway
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Flatbread was flat, chewy.
Cons: Fritos do not stand up well to sauce. Pre-sauced meats at Subway are all gross. Cold parts of sandwich were warm. Badly constructed, looks like a mess.

REVIEW: Subway Sriracha Chicken Melt

Subway Sriracha Chicken Melt

“Would you like your tomatoes toasted?” the Subway sandwich maker asked after I told her I’d like to try their Sriracha Chicken Melt with Italian bread.

“Fancy schmancy!” I unintentionally blurted out loud in an old woman’s voice, and then followed that with a nod of my head.

My excitement waned after finding out the tomato toasting involved just placing the tomatoes on the meat and cheese of the sandwich and toasting it all in Subway’s proprietary (and somewhat loud) toasters. I guess fancy schmancy would be if she asked me if I wanted my tomatoes fire roasted and then, after me agreeing, proceeded to pull out a proprietary Subway blowtorch and roast those ‘toes.

Because Subway’s shredded lettuce tends dull the flavor of every sandwich, and because I wanted to copy what’s on the promotional posters for the new Sriracha Melts, I also asked the Subway sandwich maker to top my sub with green peppers, red onions, and pepper jack cheese. Before adding the veggies, she squirted on a helping of Subway’s Creamy Sriracha Sauce as if she was signing her name on my sandwich.

However, as she was doing that, I thought to myself, “Subway probably formulated this sauce so that it would appeal to many different taste buds, so it’s A) not going to be as spicy as the rooster sauce most of us know and love; B) not going to be as bold as the rooster sauce most of us know and love; C) I wonder if she notices my fly is open, I should probably zip that up; D) I should probably ask for more sauce; E) I’m taking too much time to ponder about this because she’s asking me again what veggies I want.” After taking off my thinking cap, I asked for more creamy sriracha sauce.

By the way, is it just me or do other people feel they’re not getting their money’s worth when they don’t load up their Subway sandwich with as many veggies as possible?

Subway Sriracha Chicken Melt Closeup

If you go through bottles of rooster sauce because it’s your jam, the bright orange creamy sriracha sauce will disappoint and you’d be better off just squirting your own sriracha sauce on your Subway sandwich, which is probably something you already do since rooster sauce is your jam. As for the rest of you, it’s definitely a nice change of pace from the usual mild condiments offered, like lite mayonnaise, mustard, honey mustard, and sweet onion.

The sauce’s spiciness is almost on the same level as Taco Bell’s Hot Sauce, which is my sauce of choice when I Live Mas. Along with the chili pepper flavor, there’s a bit of sweetness and tanginess, but overall it doesn’t have a bold or garlicky flavor like actual cock sauce. With that said, I have to say the sauce is tasty enough that it made me say to myself, “Wow. This sandwich didn’t make me sad like the others have. It’s the most enjoyable Subway sandwich I’ve had in a long time.”

As for the rest of the sandwich, I wish the chicken was marinated in the creamy sriracha sauce; the red onions and green peppers added some crunch and flavor that enhanced the sauce; and the pepper jack cheese kind of got lost behind the sauce. As for the toasted tomatoes, I don’t think toasting them did anything to improve their flavor. Perhaps being fire roasted with a blowtorch might’ve helped.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 inch – 440 calories, 230 calories from fat, 25 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 990 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, 26 grams of protein.)

Item: Subway Sriracha Chicken Melt
Purchased Price: $7.50
Size: Footlong
Purchased at: Subway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Most enjoyable Subway sandwich I’ve had in a long time, thanks to that sauce. Creamy sriracha sauce has decent heat and flavor. Red onions and green peppers enhance the sauce. Subway employees who use the condiments to sign their names on the sandwich.
Cons: Folks hoping for rooster sauce will be disappointed. Chicken not marinated. Not sure the pepper jack cheese doesn’t anything. Getting asked if I want my tomatoes toasted was kind of weird. Blurting out archaic phrases in an old woman’s voice. Daythinking while in ordering a sandwich.

NEWS: Subway Testing Creamy Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha HOT Chili Sauce

Subway, the fast food place micromanagers probably love, is testing a creamy sriracha sauce at select locations. The spicy sauce was spotted by the folks over at Foodbeast.

Currently, Subway’s spiciest sauce is probably their Chipotle Southwest Sauce, which I don’t think is at all spicy. Last summer, the sandwich chain tested a wasabi sauce, but it has yet to show up nationwide.

Brand Eating posted a review of the new sauce:

The sauce is a bright, almost neon orange; it almost makes you think you should take a Geiger counter to it. I figured I might as well just taste it by itself and dabbed some on my finger. I got some sweet tanginess paired with creaminess before the heat hit me. Wow! This is some seriously spicy stuff!

I hope this rolls out nationwide. But if not, I guess I could take the bottle of sriracha in my fridge and splooge some of it on my next Subway sandwich.

Image via flickr user Calgary Reviews / CC BY 2.0