REVIEW: Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini (Canada)

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini

Do you like salt? Do you love salt? Tim Hortons Steak & Cheese Panini will test you. Even if you think you have a high tolerance for very salty foods, this one will take you to the limit; it will stare deep into your soul and find you wanting.

Just as Pizza Hut has a Meat Lover’s Pizza, this should be called a Salt Lover’s Sandwich.

The nutritional info claims it has 1440 milligrams of sodium, and as high as that is, it’s gotta be a conservative estimate. It is aggressively, unpleasantly salty.

But then again, even if it weren’t a 40 megaton salt bomb, it still wouldn’t particularly be worth eating.

Most egregiously, the name of the sandwich is pretty misleading — the meat here bares very little resemblance to anything even close to any kind of steak that I’ve ever had. It’s roast beef. That’s a small distinction, but an important one.

But I like roast beef, so who cares what they call it, right?

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini Topless

It also tastes pretty lousy. Have you ever had any bottom of the barrel supermarket cold cuts? You know, the ones that taste more of nitrates and salt than anything you’d identify as any kind of meat? That’s this “steak” in a nutshell. It’s kind of chewy and salty and there’s not much more to it than that.

The cheese was even worse; it was quite possibly the most odiously waxy processed cheese I’ve ever had.

Look, I’m aware that I’m coming off as a complete snob here, but let me make this clear: I don’t mind processed cheese. In particular, on a griddle-cooked, fast-food-style cheeseburger, it’s the only type of cheese there is; it’s perfection.

But even if processed cheese were appropriate for this sandwich (and it’s not — Cheddar or Provolone or Swiss or pretty much anything else would have worked much better), this was a particularly shoddy variety of processed cheese, with almost zero cheesy flavour.

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini Side

It wasn’t horrible in the first half of the sandwich, when it was still hot and melty. But by the time I got to the second half, the sandwich had cooled somewhat, and the cheese rapidly congealed into a plasticky morass of saltiness and agony.

And that’s pretty much all there was to this sandwich. Just salty but otherwise tasteless “steak” atop a waxy, cheese-like substance. There are red onions, and they add a little bit of crunch and a mild oniony bite, but their flavour was almost completely unable to stand up to the barrage of sodium.

I should note that I attempted to order the chipotle version of this sandwich, which also comes with a spicy chipotle sauce. In fact, I did order that sandwich — it was on my receipt and everything — but they either forgot to include that sauce, or it was so subtle that I couldn’t taste it (and certainly, that’s not altogether implausible; the panini so incredibly salty that any other flavour attempting to make a dent will get completely annihilated).

I contemplated returning at a later date and ordering another sandwich, making sure that I got the chipotle version this time. But I couldn’t. The idea of eating this again — in any form — was more than I could bear. I’m not strong enough.

And let’s face it, a sauce would have to be mind-blowingly amazing to make this sandwich even borderline edible; I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the sauce isn’t mind-blowingly amazing.

To keep this from being a complete hate-fest, I will say this: the bread was pretty good. It was perfectly toasted, with a nicely crispy exterior and a soft, fresh interior. I liked it quite a bit. I just wish it was filled with literally anything else.

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1440 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fibre, 4 grams of sugar, and 29 grams of protein.)

Item: Tim Hortons Steak & Cheese Panini
Purchased Price: $5.49 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Tim Hortons
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Fresh, perfectly toasted bread. Ben Affleck gives the best performance of his career in Gone Girl (that has zero to do with this sandwich or this review, but I figured I needed at least one more pro).
Cons: Salty, otherwise flavourless “steak.” Salty, waxy processed cheese. Salt, salt, salt. Salt.

15 thoughts to “REVIEW: Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini (Canada)”

  1. I’m surprised at this review. I actually really like this sandwich (the original sauce, not the chipotle.) I am somewhat sensitive to salt, but I don’t find this sandwich as salty as the author described in this article. The ingredients may be on the lower end of the quality scale, but I think the combination of flavours make this one delicious sandwich! I don’t typically like anything at Tim’s save for the donuts, but I’ve bought this sandwich again and again. Tasty! 8/10

  2. Weird! I’m eating this sandwich right now, and it doesn’t come off as particularly salty to me. I have a pretty low salt tolerance, too.
    It’s honestly not that bad. Obviously not the pinnacle of sandwiches, but not bad.

  3. I’ve had this sandwich several times and I don’t understand the saltiness in the review. Granted I actually like salt, but even with all that Sodium the sandwich doesn’t strike me as overly or even barely salty. The steak could certainly be done better, but save that I think this sandwich is just fine.

  4. Yum! I loved this sandwich, and will be going back for more! I did not find it too salty at all. A lovely change from burgers. A wonderful menu addition. It’s nice to have variety of menu options in any Town. Thanks Tim Horton’s!

  5. I love this sandwich. Probably not the best cuts of meat and cheese but it’s fast food. I’m very sensitive to salt and I don’t know what the author is talking about. This sandwich is not salty to me. My only con to this sandwich is that I would like it to be a little bit bigger. Not twice the size but maybe half. It’s really delicious and I wish I knew the sauce recipe and I would make it at home as well.

  6. I have tried it yesterday. There was less meat (if that is what you call it) in the one I ordered from the picture above) I was surprised at the disgusting look of it but I was way too hungry to throw it away. I did not feel good after. Will not order it again. Yes, it was salty and yes, the cheese was disgusting. How I felt after eating it was even worse.

    1. Boo-fn-hoo. Get a grip honey.13 000 children die daily from preventable starvation. And you have the nerve to call food garbage. That sandwich would feed a child in the developing world for two or more days. The only thing that should feel bad is your conscience, or lack thereof.

  7. @ Jason – “I wouldn’t eat anything at Tim Horton’s except the donuts.” This statement alone renders all other statements by this particular Jason moot unfortunately. :))
    This sandwich is great. Not too salty. It’s just a sandwich, get over it.
    Further, the movie, Gone Girl, sucks, as does Ben Affleck. The fact that the writer of the piece likes him makes their opinion questionable at best.

  8. Your sandwich must have been prepared … not-properly (?) because I loved having this whenever I had a break as a cash register slave–er, I mean, employee, at Tims. But yes, the bread IS right on the money. The recipe was calculated to please my sandwich-hating, but bread-loving self (and cheese-loving self, and Filipino-bistek-loving self).

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