Review: Harvest Chicken Salad on Whole Grain Flatbread from Quiznos

It’s no secret that Quiznos has been trailing Subway in recent years. The company’s mishandling of franchises is the stuff they teach you not to do in your freshmen economics classes, while the chain’s inability to match marketing wits with the 5 Dollar Footlong campaign, has led Subway to leave the once ultra-chic Quiznos in the dust.

Quiznos is fighting back though, and with complaints growing about some of Subway’s recent offering (ahem, pulled pork) Quiznos is borrowing a page from the book that Subway made famous a decade ago – healthy subs.

Fooled again by the ad...

Among the steps Quiznos is taking to promote its sandwiches as healthy and flavorful are the launching of a new line of whole-grain flatbreads, as well as an innovative take on the highly seasonal chicken salad sandwich. The Harvest Chicken Salad Sandwich certainly wins in the marketing department:

Honey-Dijon chicken, grapes, apples, dried cranberries, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, spring mix lettuce, Acai Vinaigrette

The flavors sound exciting, but the $5.99 price tag puts this in the upper price range of chain sandwiches, not to mention makes it a dollar more than Subway’s $5 Footlongs. And my friends, you ain’t getting a footlong anything with this. In fact, when it comes to value, this is one sandwich that really misses the mark.

It’s a shame, really, because taste-wise, it’s probably one of the more intriguing takes on chicken salad I’ve had. Lets start with the good. Unlike Subway’s Orchard Chicken Salad (read our review here), the base isn’t your typical gloopy fast-food mayo.  The acai vinaigrette has a light but fruity taste that could perk up even the dullest of salads, although the runny nature of the dressing is a bit awkward, especially given the dynamics of the flatbread construction. The veggies are all very fresh. You’re not getting some limp, Burger King lettuce or some runny spinach here, but rather a nice helping of buttery greens. The tomatoes are a really interesting addition – adding both crunch and sweetness – but the winning ingredient here are the pepitas. I didn’t think I liked pumpkin seeds before eating this flatbread, but having had experienced the complex flavors in unison with the bright vegetables and sweet and peppery vinaigrette, I think I’ll be putting my future Jack-O-Lanterns to better use.

As for the flatbread itself, it’s one of the better ones out there, and gives whole grains a good name. There’s a welcomed honey sweetness that works great with the nuts and seeds baked into the dough, which itself is slightly pillowy and chewy.

All that being said, there were more misses than hits with the Harvest Chicken Salad – especially if you order it on the whole grain flatbread like I did. For starters, you are getting a lot more bread than salad here, and the portion of chicken is very skimpy. That chicken, by the way, is nothing special. For this much money, I expect at least a decent grilled, if not roasted white meat breast with perhaps some dark meat for flavor, but the chunks of pregrilled chicken in the sub are par for the course when it comes to fast food (aka, dry and salty). The “honey-dijon” flavor? Tasted more like fake char-grill and sodium enhancers to me. Also, what is up with the fruit configuration? I could hardly make out any apple chunks and counted all of one grape (split into two halves). While the sweetness of the dressing was enough to get me through, a little more crunch from the fruit would have been nice.

At $5.99 this sandwich isn’t a good value – especially when you factor in the fact that my local Quiznos didn’t honor a Buy One, Get One Free coupon for the item. It has good flavor and promise with the ingredients, but its shortcoming are all too apparent. While I love the pumpkin seeds and the idea of an acai dressing, the innovative and dare I say exotic flavors are doomed because of mediocre chicken and skimpy portions. The flatbread is far from filling, and almost falls into the category of snack more than it does a meal. Sorry Quiznos, Subway might have mediocre sandwiches and dumb names for the people making them, but at least they honor coupons and, once more, can provide me with some substance to last through the workday.

Pros: Hearty yet pillowy flatbread has mildly sweet but nutty flavor. Acai dressing is bright and flavorful. Veggies are fresh and crisp. Pumpkin seeds add dynamic and complex flavor.

Cons: Chicken is average, at best, while skimpy portion makes the $5.99 price tag a tough bill to swallow for more of a "snack" than a meal.

Taste: 7.50/10
Value: 4.50/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.50/10
Price: $5.99

Overall GrubGrade: 5.25/10

More Info: Quiznos.com
Nutrition Facts:
Quiznos Harvest Chicken Salad on Flatbread
Calories – 530
Total Fat – 19 grams
Saturated Fat – 4 grams
Trans Fat: 0 grams
Carbs – 73 grams
Cholesterol – 30 milligrams
Sodium – 1160 milligrams
Sugars – 38 grams
Dietary Fiber – 11 grams
Protein – 22 grams

20 comments on “Review: Harvest Chicken Salad on Whole Grain Flatbread from Quiznos

  1. Manavee says:

    I’ve tried to defend Quizno’s here in the past (and still feel quality-wise it is much much better than Subway), but that sandwich looks anemic…..particularly for $6.

    Out of curiosity, whenever you report bad customer service at a franchise on this blog (e.g. not honoring coupons), do any of the parent companies ever contact you to try to find out which franchise you went to?

    • Adam says:

      Sometimes, but not often. Wendy’s and Five Guys both inquired as to which unit numbers “screwed up” my orders there after reviews, but that was as far as it went. Not sure if they ever actually did anything, but nice to know their corporate team cares, if nothing else.

  2. J.B. says:

    Quiznos is vastly superior to Subway in every single way, but their higher pricing is killing them.
    The lobster sandwich they had a little while back was fantastic and I wish they would bring it back.

    This sandwich however is a step back and the price way too high.

  3. Chefprotoss or dan says:

    Adam, what would you change about quiznos to drag it out of the mud? Like most of the population I have no intention of eating there again. It wouldn’t suprise me if the company closed all its stores next week.

    • Adam says:

      Well, the franchises have got to get on board with the national company, for starters. That means laying out a clear coupon policy. Subway still does a lot of multiple orders based on coupons, and for subs – things people eat on the go, at work, etc. – I think you can sacrifice SOME quality for price and quantity.

      But I think the chain has conceptual problems with its menu board, right on down to the nature of what it defines as sizes, as well as it’s approach to deconstructing customization. People don’t want to pay the same to take stuff off subs (cheese, mayo, etc.) but will gladly pay more to add stuff on. I think Subway does a good job with this.

      I was reading a QSR magazine article on the Top 50 chains just the other week and it’s amazing to see how crappy Quiznos is doing right now. Down to 600 units nationwide.

      • Chefprotoss or dan says:

        I think the problem is quality and flavor. My favorite fast food item is the steak tacos with guac from chipotle. They cost almost ten bucks. There is always a line out the door as well. People will pay almost anything for quality and flavor. Quiznos is bland and boring. If they had the best sub on earth, no one would bat an eye at the price. Whoever is running things is an idiot and should be fired before the sinking ship that is quiznos hits the ocean floor.

        • Adam says:

          “People will pay almost anything for quality and flavor”

          I disagree. In the case of Chipotle, I think part of the appeal was a cult image it developed, as well as the grassroots marketing.

        • J.B. says:

          I agree with you Chef.
          I go to Five Guys and I pay the money and don’t even think twice because it is good.
          I was in Chicago this weekend and went to The Cheesecake Factory and it was simply amazing. I would have paid double what they asked.

  4. Seeker says:

    That sucks Adam. The ONLY reason I frequent Quizno’s is when I have a buy-one-get-one coupon or equivalent, and they always honor it. Even the ones I print online from coupon sites. Than again, they’re actually pretty good at most all of their subs and are a better location than others.

    Go for the $9 prime rib chipotle or peppercorn subs with a bogo coupon comes to $4.50 for two large tasty subs. The only tradeoff is the month of your remaining life you pay in sodium and fat per sub, but hey, who wants to live forever when there’s tasty subs.

  5. PlatypusTheConqueror says:

    I think if Quiznos *raised* it’s prices just a tad for full size sandwich, while they introduced better quality meats and used a slightly larger portion size for all of their protein servings, … and also introduced a smaller sandwich option for a “value” price but using the same heartier proportion of meat (for those that don’t need to eat a horse for lunch)…. they may boost their chances for upping profits.

  6. mitchery says:

    Hilarious how different it looks from the advertised picture.

  7. larry says:

    I stopped eating at quiznos and mcdonalds many years ago for the most part. The food is mostly bland and over priced… and like radio shack, I’m always surprised when I see one, not believing this chain is still hanging on to the bottom rung. Plus, I started to get the feeling that the quiznos restaurants were just surface clean.

    That sandwich is sad. Add to that the fact that I don’t like grapes, nuts, or fruits in my chicken salad (I thought that was reserved for the Ladies Who Lunch crowd?).

  8. Chefprotoss or dan says:

    The whole industry I work in revolves around people paying almost anything for quality and flavor. People don’t shell out 40 bucks for a steak because of cult status or grassroots marketing. They do it because it is a superior product handled by experts at a trade. It also tastes better than sex. People only complain about ptices when they don’t feel they are getting their moneys worth. That is super seldom in my industry for the same reason it is seldom at chipotle. Places like chipotle succeed because the use the same business models as higher end restaurants. Quiznos fails because it charges you royalty prices but gives you food barely fit for the slums. Hence they are down to just 600 locations.

  9. kylemeat says:

    I dislike Quiznos, but to clarify things, they lost 600 stores from ’09 to ’10. They still have over 3,000 locations in the U.S.

  10. SPM says:

    My last two experiences at Quiznos are telling of why the place is doing lousy. The one time their “toasting machine” was broken, and the owner told me the machine was not working and I would have to accept the sandwich not toasted. No apology, no discount, not even a freebie. Second experience on a Saturday afternoon, the place was dead, the guy after me asking to put a few cucumbers on his sandwich after he had already paid. The employee told him that in the future it would cost him 50 cents for the 2-3 slices of cucumbers they put on his sandwich.

  11. Stephanie says:

    I can tell you for a fact by looking at the sandwich photos above that the sandwich is not made correctly. I manage a Quiznos chain in the NW and I hope you will go to a Quiznos that actually stands behind the product as it’s supposed to be made and not try to short change the customer for a little extra profit.
    There aren’t supposed to be any tomatoes on this sandwich, and the acai should be on both sides of the bread, not in the middle. It also looks like you were shorted on the chicken/grape/apple mix and the pumpkin seeds.
    As for complaints, I know that if a customer contacts the corporate office, the complaint is sent to the franchise level and they do as they want with it.
    Lastly, it seems Quiznos has the image of higher priced sandwiches, but when compared with Subway (where I do eat on occasion), the prices are pretty equal across the board. Try to go to Subway and get their prime rib cheesesteak for $9.99, and then come to Quiznos for a large cheesesteak for $7.49. The only difference between the chains is that Quiznos is recipe based and Subway is make-your-own. Therefore the consumer looks at the upfront price of a Quiznos signature or classic sub and is taken aback, but they don’t seem to realize if you go to Subway and ordered the equivalant sandwich it would be the same price or higher (like in my rib example). If you want a $5 sandwich, order from the everyday value menu.

  12. Lacey Gilley says:

    I gotta say I eat this sandwhich on a regular basis. I love the mixture of flavors, and it’s hard to find a tasty, healthy lunch on the go where I live. I’ve always gotten WAY more in my sandwhich than what you pictured. There are always plenty of grapes and apples, and a lot more chicken. In fact, my biggest complaint about the sandwhich is that it can be kinda messy with all those ingredients stuffed in there, and some pieces tend to fall out.

    I agree that the sandwhich you reviewed was not made correctly.

    Also, I just want to comment that Subway has been getting very stingy with their veggies (at least the locations near me). The other day I ordered a veggie sandwhich with lett, tom, pick, onions, olives and banana peppers. The worker placed 5 olives on my 6 inch sub and when I asked for more, she threw 2 more on, saying her manager wouldn’t let her do any more than that. I had to ask for of everything, which was odd considering I wasn’t getting any meats to fill the sandwhich. I kinda expect a VEGGIE sandwhich to have a lot of veggies on it . . .

  13. S. Blaser says:

    Since I am a Manager @ our local Quiznos, I have to tell you that is a very poorly made sandwich! The Harvest Chicken sub and salad is awesome and one of my favs! I don’t even see any cranberries!! The sauce is put on wrong, it should be a half moon on top and a half moon on the bottom. That helps things stick into place. We always instruct our workers to make sure to get at least four grape halves per scoop. The apples are mixed in with the chicken, as are the grapes, so they can be hard to miss. The lettuce seems rather stingy also. I would go back to the store and tell them that another Quiznos manager told you they made your sandwich wrong (show them this picture) and you would like to try another! Or just contact corporate… I know it is easy to get through to them on their Facebook page!! Also the *Real* lobster, crab, shrimp, white fish sandwich is back again! Also one of my favs! It may be higher priced ( it costs more to us then the prime rib) but it’s real not imitation!! Good luck! Hope you give us a try again in the future!