I was gonna write a review of Subway’s Footlong of the Month for October, but it turns out they’re hosting Anytober, which means that almost  every sub they offer is $5 for a footlong.  This is a great deal no matter how you slice it, and you should consider most of my previous Subway reviews to be in full effect.  However, I’d like to focus on one of Subway’s newest subs, the Oven Crisp Chicken.

The Oven Crisp Chicken is perplexing.  The chicken in question is a breaded chicken patty (or two, if you get the footlong) which is posited as a healthier alternative to fast food chicken.  I don’t claim to be an expert on nutritional values, but a quick look shows that it’s not actually very healthy at all.  It’s odd that Subway feels the need to compete so explicitly with McDonald’s style chains, considering that their $5 footlongs were what changed the game in the first place.  But regardless on my reservations regarding the concept, I decided to try the Oven Crisp.

My Oven Crisp Chicken sub included tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and Sweet Onion dressing, which is the permutation recommended by promotional images.  It was actually pretty good.  I’m never crazy about Subway’s lettuce, but I got a small enough amount of it that it didn’t detract from the sandwich overall.  The cucumbers were a refreshing flavor which worked well with the chicken, which was tasty but of uncertain quality.  I didn’t dissect it to be sure, but it didn’t taste or feel like all white breast meat or anything.  I don’t have any issue with the super processed chicken of most fast food companies, but Subway seems like they’d have higher standards.  Anyway, what really made the sub was the Sweet Onion dressing.  It’s pretty forgiving, and with an already decent recipe to work with it really shines.

All in all, the Oven Crisp Chicken was a pretty delicious sub.  I always prefer larger cuts of meat on Subway subs, like chopped chicken or steak, because I think other chains do deli style cold cuts better.  This didn’t disappoint, and I’d recommend picking up the footlong for $5, it’s a great meal.

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Jersey Giant  Subs is apparently a household name in the East Lansing area, but they just opened their first location in my neck of the woods, on Westnedge by the Meijer in Portage.  Jersey Giant specializes in “Boardwalk Subs,” which consist of various Italian cured meats and cheeses with veggies.  Pretty standard stuff, but the beauty of it is in the execution.

I had the “Jersey Giant,” which is a foot of ham, capicola, salami and provolone cheese, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and Italian dressing.  It was phenomenal.  For a seemingly basic sub, it was loaded with flavor and overflowing with toppings.  The meat and cheese were freshly sliced as I entered the shop (by my friend Matt, as it happens), which is a level of quality and freshness that Subway just can’t replicate.  The subs are also huge.  One full sub (roughly 16 inches) is easily two full meals, and mine actually lasted me three.  It’s a great sandwich and a lot of it.

Jersey Giant is a little bit pricey, with 16” subs usually going for between $6-8 alone, without the addition of a side or drink.  It’s actually a great deal for the amount of good food you get, but it’s still something to keep in mind.  I’d recommend Jersey Giant for anyone who enjoys traditional Italian subs and doesn’t mind bringing home extras.

Another month, another Subway Featured $5 Footlong.  August’s offering, much to my chagrin, is the Buffalo Chicken sub.  I’ve never been a fan of Buffalo sauce.  It’s spicy without enough of a flavor, and it tastes like vinegar to me (and not in the good “Salt and Vinegar Chips” way).  But I missed last month’s sub, so I figured I owed you guys this one.  I made it my mission to create a Buffalo Chicken sub I could actually enjoy, using the ingredients available to me.  Let’s see how I did!

Apropo of nothing, but doesn't Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol look great? If there's one thing Tom Cruise is good at, it's shooting guns and jumping off of stuff.

I began by adding Monterrey Cheddar cheese, to lessen the bite a bit.  I had it toasted, then applied tomatoes and Ranch dressing.  (Until Subway starts offering real leaves of Romaine lettuce, as opposed to the napkin-like shredded Iceberg they currently use, I won’t be adding lettuce anytime soon.)  It actually ended up being pretty decent.  While Bleu Cheese dressing is really the ideal counterpoint to Buffalo sauce, Ranch is a passable alternative,and the tomatoes added a bit of variety without adding heat, the way the recommended green peppers could’ve.  If I were to do it again, I might add mayo, onions or a stronger cheese, but I enjoyed it as it was.

Being a Featured sub, it’s $5 for a foot-long sub, which if I haven’t mentioned before is a really good deal.  If you like Buffalo Chicken, you’ll probably like this sandwich.  If you don’t, you can try a similar strategy to what I did, or you can skip it altogether.

I’ve mentioned Lenny’s Sub Shop before, but one thing I didn’t mention is their impressive use of social media in their marketing.  Now, if you’re anything like me, the phrase “social media in marketing” makes you cringe, as it reeks of obnoxious, invasive posts on Facebook and Twitter begging you to please please please try their product.  Lenny’s usually manages to avoid this.  Instead, they post weekly “Social Wednesday” deals on subs and combos on Facebook, with coupons good for that day.  Lenny’s also runs occasional giveaways, like haiku or picture contests, with the prize being a $10 Lenny’s gift card.  I was lucky enough to win one, so I headed out to pick up a sub.

Unfortunately, they don't offer whole tomatoes as a side (as far as I know).

Looking back, I should’ve been more adventurous, but I decided to go with an old favorite, the Philly Cheesesteak.  I have no complaints.  The steak was thin sliced and grilled to perfection, and the cheese and onions were great.  The only thing I would have done differently would have been to ask for the hot pepper relish on the side, the way I said I would last time, but I forgot.  It’s good, and would be a nice addition to an Italian sub, but it overpowers a cheesesteak a bit.

The cheesesteak cost around $6.50, well within the gift card’s balance.  I’d recommend it, but more than that, I’d recommend becoming a fan of Lenny’s on Facebook.  It’s quick and painless, and you might end up getting a free sub or two out of it.

Subway has recently announced a new initiative to offer avocado as an option for all sandwiches for a limited time.  They mention a couple of sandwiches they feel it goes particularly well with, but I was in the mood for bacon and eggs, so I threw it on the Bacon, Egg and Cheese on Flatbread.

They actually scoop and spread it with an ice cream scoop. I can't decide if this is awesome or disgusting.

In addition to the bacon and eggs, I added some Monterey Cheddar cheese.  The thing to remember about the avocado is that it isn’t guacamole.  It’s thicker, without the spices and other ingredients.  I thought it might be a lot to take, so I added some ranch dressing to cut it.  That ended up being a good choice.  I’m a big avocado fan, but it can be kind of thick and overpowering.  Ideally, I’d like about a 6″ sub’s worth of avocado spread over a footlong, but I doubt they offer that.  All in all, the avocado was an interesting addition, but I can’t see myself adding it again, at least not to this sandwich.

Adding avocado costs an extra 50 cents on a 6″ sub, and an extra $1 on footlongs.  You definitely get your money’s worth, but unless it’s a sandwich that will probably benefit from a big injection of avocado (say, the Chipotle Chicken and Cheese) you may not want to risk it.

This May, Subway has selected their Orchard Chicken Salad sub to be the latest $5 Footlong of the month.  The timing of this one is interesting, because Arby’s just added a Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad sandwich to their Market Fresh menu.  I thought it would be an interesting, unique idea to review them side by side and see which one is better.  Then I visited Arby’s Facebook page and saw that they had the same idea.

They even made a graphic for it. Sirs, I am outdone!!

 Still, I doubt any of their Facebook fans have the dedication to sandwich quality I’ve demonstrated, so hopefully this becomes the definitive review of the two.  These sandwiches are a bit outside of the usual fare I cover here on Sandwichtalk (for more on my usual fare, type “bacon” or “BBQ” into the search field on the right and see what comes up).  I’ll admit that the combination of fruit and mayonnaise is kind of a turnoff for me on a conceptual level, but I can get past it.  I’ll be comparing the two in a couple different categories, so let’s get started!

The Arby's Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad Sandwich

First, and most importantly, I’ll begin with taste.  Both salads were made up of pretty similar ingredients, including chicken, apples, and celery, mixed with mayonnaise.  The Arby’s version, which I had in the Whole Wheat Wrap iteration, includes grapes, pecans, and leaf lettuce, which is actually really nice.  It tasted alright, although the celery was cut a bit thick and it threw the texture off.  The Subway recipe, on the other hand, included raisins and cranberries, and I got mine on Italian bread with lettuce, although I removed most of it halfway through.  The celery was cut thinner, which was nice, but the real win here were the cranberries, which added an interesting kick.  The pecans were a nice touch on the Arby’s side, but not enough to win.  Walnuts would’ve been better.

Winner: Subway

Subway Orchard Chicken Salad Sandwich

Next up is nutrition.  I don’t usually cover nutrition info on Sandwichtalk, because my assumption is that you understand that eating at a fast food restaurant is by definition not going to be as good for you as a home cooked meal or eating at a nicer, more upscale venue.  However, given that the main thrust of these sandwiches is as a light, healthy alternative to mainstream fast food, I thought it was worth a look.  According to Subway’s website, the Orchard Chicken Salad contains 370 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 560 mg of sodium.  Compare that to the Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad, which according to Arby’s contains 630 calories, 41 grams of fat, and 1020 mg of sodium as a wrap, and 840 calories, 44 grams of fat, and 1220 mg of sodium on the honey wheat bread.  Neither seems like an ideal choice for a diet, but Subway is the clear victor here.

Winner: Subway

Arby's Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad Wrap (this is the version I had)

 Finally, we have value in terms of price.  This one is a bit more complicated.  Arby’s is offering a free sandwich with purchase of a drink via a coupon on their Facebook page.  If you use this coupon, Arby’s is far and away a better deal, since a drink is only about a dollar and a half.  Without the coupon, the Arby’s sandwich is about $4.79 for the sandwich and $6 for the combo, which includes fries and a drink.  For just the sandwich alone, Subway is a much better deal, being a footlong.  However, if you want a meal, and I would suggest getting one since both sandwiches aren’t hugely filling, Arby’s is probably a better bet, since Subway combos will run up to around $10.

Winner: Arby’s

Given the nutritional facts and all around taste, I have to give the title of Best Fruity Chicken Salad Sandwich Special to Subway.  Both have their pros and cons and neither is quite what I want (hint- cranberries and pecans would be an amazing combination), but I’d eat the Orchard Chicken Salad again much sooner than I’d have the Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad.  If you disagree, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!!

P.S.  No matter who you side with, be sure to vote on the Arby’s Facebook page.  They’re donating $1 for every vote to the charity No Kid Hungry, so that’s pretty cool.

Arby’s  has just introduced a new Angus beef sub, one of the inaugural menu options of their new “good mood food” slogan.  It’s interesting that they’re pushing Angus as a brand (they advertise on the website that they have at least three more Angus products coming soon), since they themselves have a roast beef they’ve been pushing for years.  Regardless, the Angus Three Cheese and Bacon sub is here, and let me tell you, it’s not that great.

Don't make me Angus. You won't like me when I'm Angus.

 

The main problem I have with this sandwich is the Angus roast beef.  Regardless of how you feel about Angus beef, it tastes different from Arby’s regular roast beef.  I personally think the regular stuff is better, but more than that I think it’s better suited to the kinds of sandwiches Arby’s makes.  The other ingredients don’t fit quite as well with the flavor of the beef as they should.  The combination of cheeses (swiss, cheddar, and parmesan) feels kind of arbitrary, like they picked out the three cheapest cheeses they could find.  The sauce and bacon are fine, but unlike the other subs, the roll isn’t toasted (or at least the one I had wasn’t, and I’m inclined to think that’s how it’s supposed to be), which I never realized was important until it was gone.

I don’t think the Angus Three Cheese and Bacon was worth the trouble.  It might work with a little tweaking, but as it stands now, it’s definitely not worth the price (a little over $5 for the meal).  Arby’s has plenty of good subs and sandwiches, get something else instead.