Greetings, sandwich fans!  I’ve just returned from a trip to New York City, so I figured I’d do a New York review.  Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen is a burger joint and sandwich shop located at 41st and 8th Avenue in Manhattan, in the New York Times Building.  Schnipper’s serves a number of burgers, sandwiches, and sides to its Midtown visitors, and has been featured on the Food Network’s Throwdown! With Bobby Flay.  I decided to sample the Schnipper’s Classic, with a side of fries.

The burger is the one on the left.

The Schnipper’s Classic featured a couple of interesting items, including arugula and carmelized onions.  It also included their special cheese blend (which seemed like mozzarella and Monterey Jack, but I’m not positive), bacon, and Schnipper’s Sauce, which was somewhat like Dijon mustard.  The patty itself was top-notch, and they were generous with the bacon.  The use of arugula gave it a flavor I hadn’t tasted before and worked well with the other elements.  Overall, an excellent burger.

The downside is the price.  The burger alone was $8.99.  Buying fries and a drink was a separate price, and not too cheap either, so the whole meal was well over the $8-$10 range.  The Schnipper’s Classic is one of their more expensive sandwiches, with many of them being a dollar or so cheaper, but it’s still a little bit steep.  However, if you’re on vacation and in the neighborhood, I’d recommend splurging for it.  It’s not an everyday thing, but if you want a creative, high-quality burger, the Schnipper’s Classic is a good idea.

Panera Bread is a chain of bakeries and cafes which sell bread, pastries and other baked goods, as well as prepared sandwiches, soups, salads and other restaurant faire.  It’s comparatively expensive, but uses high quality ingredients and thoughtful preparation which puts it above fast food.  For my first review, I decided on a panini.

Not this exact panini per se, but one very similar.

My selection, the Turkey Artichoke Panini, was delicious.  The turkey itself was decent, deli sliced but a generous amount, but the other elements were really the stars of the show.  The carmelized onions, artichoke spread, and Asiago-Parmesan cheese converged into a full, flavorful taste.  The sun-dried tomatoes were alright (in my opinion, sun-dried tomatoes are one of the most overrated sandwich ingredients), and the foccacia it was served on was tasty and large.  The sandwich was also served with Panera brand chips, which were pretty good as well.

The only downside of this sandwich was that it cost $7.09, and didn’t include a drink.  It was among the more expensive sandwiches on the menu, but even the cheaper ones ran for around $6.50 and up.  A full meal at Panera would probably cost around $10.  I’d definitely recommend this sandwich from a taste perspective, but from a cost standpoint it’s a bit overpriced.

Seemingly in an effort to top KFC’s recent abomination the Double Down, family restaurant chain Friendly’s has introduced the Grilled Cheese BurgerMelt, a large hamburger served between two piping hot grilled cheese sandwiches.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Apologies for the small picture, but you get the idea.

"What they did to me was monstrous." "And so they created a monster?"

 In addition to the burger, the sandwich includes lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  I honestly cannot imagine how this could be any good.  I have nothing against the use of toast in a sandwich or burger, but using an entire sandwich as a bun is far too much.  The entire affair looks so unbalanced and unappetizing.  Unfortunately, there are no Friendly’s in Michigan, but I promise if I somehow end up at one, I’ll try this sandwich, so you don’t have to.  Meanwhile, let’s muse for a moment on what the next entry in this race to the bottom will be.  A burger with slices of pepperoni pizza for buns?  A sandwich using miniature chicken pot pies in place of bread?  The possibilities truly are endless.

Considering that tomorrow, June 12th, is the one-year anniversary of Sandwichtalk, I decided to go a bit further in my latest review.  These days, most fast food restaurants have value menus, where you can get burgers, drinks, desserts etc. for around a dollar.  In light of the myriad options, I’ve put together a guide to where you can find the best burgers for one dollar or less (plus tax).  Here goes!

6.  White Castle Cheeseburger

Starting from the bottom.  White Castle is known for their “buy in bulk” approach to food, with the Crave Case, a box of 30 burgers, being the most infamous.  I’m unhappy that this is my first White Castle review, because I actually don’t have much of a problem with them in general.  However, from a dollar menu standpoint, they’re really dropped the ball.  One White Castle hamburger is 69 cents, and a cheeseburger is 82 cents.  The burgers are about as thick as a slice of lunchmeat, and most of the mass is taken up by the large, pillowy bun.  It’s topped with pickles, mustard, and onions, the latter of which provide most of the flavor.  It’s an interesting experience, but seeing as you only get one, it’s not nearly worth your dollar.

5.  BK Buck Double

Burger King recently added a $1 burger to their menu, which they claim is now the most popular dollar burger on the market.  There’s really not a lot wrong with the Buck Double, which includes 2 patties, cheese, ketchup, mustard and pickles, but it tastes like something’s missing.  It lacks the feeling of completeness that its more expensive brother, the Double Cheeseburger ($1.29) has.  Not a terrible bet for your dollar, but it’ll leave you wanting more.

4.  Taco Bell Beefy 5-Layer Burrito

I know, I know.  There’s a big difference between a burger and a burrito.  I’ve said I want to branch out a bit on here, and I figured this is a good way to start.  If you’re a serious sandwich purist, just skip to the next section.  For everyone else, Taco Bell has a number of beef and cheese items for under a dollar, although their prices fluctuate often.  One standby is the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito.  At 89 cents, it’s inexpensive, and quite filling, with ground beef, beans, sour cream and two kinds of cheeses.  It may not be a burger, but it’s still not a bad choice for your dollar.

3.  Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger

Wendy’s certainly wins the variety award for value burgers.  Their menu includes the Double Stack, the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, and the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe, all for 99 cents.  I selected the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, which included lettuce, tomato and mayo in addition to the titular bacon, cheese and burger.  It was delicious, with the high-quality ingredients Wendy’s is known for.  You really can’t go wrong at Wendy’s with a dollar.

2.  Arby’s Jr. Roast Beef

Again, not exactly a burger, but still a $1 beef sandwich.  Arby’s Jr. Roast Beef is deceptively simple.  With a decent portion of Arby’s top-notch roast beef, it’s pretty good when eaten plain, but where it really shines is in combination with a sauce.  The Arby’s I visited had no less than 5 different kinds of sauces, and most stock at least Ketchup, Arby’s Sauce and Horsey Sauce.  When applied to the Jr. Roast Beef, they transform it into something new and magical.  I recommend the Spicy 3 Pepper sauce, if available.

And the best value for your dollar is…

1.  McDonald’s McDouble

Yes, the classic McDouble.  It’s only $1, and comes with 2 nicely sized patties, cheese, ketchup, mustard, onions and pickles.  You get a lot of meat for a good price, and the whole sandwich really comes together in a way that most don’t.  The McDouble really is the Cadillac of one dollar burgers.

If you notice a fast food chain not represented, it’s probably because there isn’t one near enough to me for me to visit (Jack-In-The-Box and Sonic, among others).  Obviously, the prices and offerings on these value menus are subject to change without notice.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the guide, and please, spend your dollars responsibly.

Another of Arby’s Market Fresh offerings, the Steakhouse Sub is a variation on their usual roast beef sandwich.  In addition to the roast beef, the sub includes swiss cheese, crispy onion straws and a cracked peppercorn sauce, all toasted on a ciabatta roll.  I’m not exactly sure what makes it a steakhouse sub, what with it being roast beef and all, but that’s beside the point.

Yeah, "Roast Beefhouse" does sound a bit off...

The sub is actually pretty good overall.  As always, Arby’s roast beef is delicious, and the onion straws are an interesting choice.  The cracked peppercorn sauce wasn’t as “zesty” as I expected, but I felt that actually worked to the sandwich’s advantage, as it complemented the cheese well.  My main complaint was that the roll was closer to burned than toasted, which kind of took away from the experience.  All in all, the Steakhouse Sub was a worthwhile buy, not quite as good as their Philly Beef, but worth trying while it’s available.

Wendy’s is known for its high quality burgers, chicken, chili, and frosty desserts.  The tradeoff on this is that Wendy’s is usually a bit more expensive than its competitors, with its new menu items going for upwards of 4 or 5 dollars.  In an effort to stay affordable, Wendy’s has introduced two new value meals, the BBQ Bacon Double Jr. Cheeseburger and the BBQ Bacon Crispy Chicken Sandwich. 

Spot the differences between these two pictures!!!

The sandwiches are actually pretty run of the mill.  These days, it’s hard to market barbecue sauce or bacon as a hook in and of themselves.  That doesn’t make these sandwiches bad.  On the contrary, if you’re going to get a BBQ Bacon sandwich, these are a good bet.  They also feature onions, pickles, and American cheese, a tasty combination with both chicken and beef. 

These sandwiches are good, but what pushes them into “great” territory is the price.  A small combo, consisting of either sandwich, fries, and a drink, is only $2.99.  In this economy, most people aren’t willing to splurge on a 6 or 7 dollar fast food combo, no matter how many times you name drop Angus beef or Chipotle sauce.  These tried-and-true flavors are definitely worth it.

Breakfast sandwiches haven’t been discussed on Sandwichtalk yet, mainly because I have a hard time making it out to a restaurant before the 10:30-11:00 changeover to the lunch menu.  However, now that Sandwichtalk is nearly a year old, I want to branch out a little bit, and what better way to start than with one of the strangest breakfast sandwiches around, the McGriddles?

Not a hoax!! Not a dream!!

The McGriddles (yes, the ‘s’ is part of the name) is a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich which includes scrambled eggs, american cheese, and either bacon or sausage (they also serve a sausage-only variant).  What sets it apart from other sandwiches is the bun, a pancake-like creation with maple syrup flavoring baked in.  I was as skeptical as any of you, but in the name of Sandwichtalk I decided to try one.

I had the Bacon Egg and Cheese McGriddles.  It was actually quite a bit smaller than I expected, but that didn’t keep it from being delicious.  The buns were sweet, but more subtle and less processed-tasting than I expected.  It may seem counterintuitive, but think of it this way: people have been eating eggs, meat and pancakes for centuries, this just takes a few extra steps out of the process.  I think the sausage McGriddles might have complemented itself better, but I’m a sucker for bacon, and I don’t regret it.  Overall, a pretty good, relatively inexpensive breakfast.  Obviously, it’s got a lot of sugar and fat and whatnot, so I wouldn’t recommend it on a daily basis, but try it once in a while to shake up your morning routine.