Review: Chipotle Chicken and Cheese from Subway
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There are certain reviews I almost dread writing. Horribly bland items which shun my gastronomic lexicon notwithstanding, most of these reviews revolve around products I either love or hate. It makes sense if you think about it — people seem to have love-hate relationships with everything these days, and one man’s (or woman’s) epitome of fast food perfection might be another’s prime example of everything wrong with our country. And considering the feelings some people display towards chains like Subway or Burger King (two often-bashed here on GrubGrade) that may not be a hyperbolic statement.
So I am sorry to the serial Subway haters out there, but the Chipotle Chicken and Cheese is a damn good sandwich at its price. Yes, not a good sandwich (although not quite a great sandwich), it is a damn good sandwich. And — if by any intentional or unintentional circumstance — you find yourself being stared down by a “sandwich artist” in your local Subway, you’d do well to roll the dice and take a chance on January’s featured Five Dollar Footlong.
Start the New Year with a bang! Tender, juicy chicken and meltalicious cheese with a pop of Chipotle Southwest Sauce for a creamy, smoky, subtly spicy taste sensation. It’s like fireworks for your taste buds!
A little background is in order. I didn’t intend to order anything from Subway for lunch the other day, and certainly didn’t consider what I thought an over-hyped marketing ploy of “Chipotle Southwest” to be enticing at first glance. It’s been a solid year or so since I’ve actually gone to Subway with the intention of buying a sub, but having forgotten my lunch while out and about for the day, I figured I’d wander into one of those nicer gas station mini marts and pick up something cheap to hold me over. Low and behold the embedded Subway unit in said mini-mart though, and the “oh yeah” moment where I remember I have that $10 Subway gift card.
If I was going to order anything I figured I might as well try the “Featured Footlong.” God knows “Chipotle” has run its course in the buzz words of food marketing, but at 460 calories and $3.75 for a six-inch sub it had enough punch to be a halfway affordable meal for an afternoon. Why not? Stepping up to order, I ordered a 6-inch sub, designating Jalapeno Cheese bread as my starch of choice. This is the part where some will inevitably take issue, claiming that when objectively reviewing something, said reviewer should order and then keep quiet, letting the default choice of condiments and accompaniments stand. That might be the case in the Soup Nazi’s kitchen or communist China’s burger chains, but an essential component of the Subway business model is customization. So I took advantage.
That advantage serves you well. Why settle for American when you can have a creamier, slightly spicy Pepper Jack? It melts fantastically into the bread and chicken, and gives the sauce a bit more fat to tighten up the viscosity. The chicken, my old nemesis when I chose to order Subway in the past, was surprisingly missing that “enhanced” flavor of sodium and fake-char-grill. In fact, it had a slight tang not unlike Chick-fil-A’s grilled chicken breast, and a juicy and slightly sweet flavor. The veggies, of course, were fresh and portioned generously — something too many fast food places still struggle with. The idea of adding tomato and cucumber for relief and sweetness cannot be overstated, but the Chipotle Sauce shouldn’t scare you. This is not a sauce trying to be hot for hots sake. It has a pleasant smoke flavor and depth to it, as well as a buttermilk tang and sweet kick. Not one to usually get sauces that are mostly composed of fat, a little nevertheless goes a long way, and is worth it in this case.
What I like about this sandwich is that it stays physically warm and holds its structure and flavors. Given that a half-hour wait from ordering to eating (with some of it spent walking in near-single digit temperatures) was part of my experience, I have to commend this as one of the better grubbing-on-the-go options out there for those who might not be able to eat right away. Points, as well, for condiments not squeezing out of the bread while eating.
Like I said, a damn good sandwich, but it does have flaws. The bread-to-filling ratio is slightly skewed in favor of the bread, particularly a denseness which leaves the end bites short on flavor. Likewise, the flavor of the Jalapeno and Cheese, while working great in consort with the sauce, Pepper Jack, and chicken, doesn’t extend through the dense underbelly of the bread. Other problems include the possibility of getting some rubbery chicken pieces, although I fortunately only got one such piece. And yes, the two triangles of cheese and a pre-portioned container of meat is not a lot, but then again, consider the price point, especially in regards to a competitor like Quiznos. Given this, and given the availability of customization, and I’ll take Subway over Quiznos anyday, although I stand by my feelings that Arby’s makes the best beef subs with their Premium Angus line. A good sub? Nope, and not a great one either. But Subway manages to create a damn good sub at a price even a perennial bring-your-lunch-to
work ‘looking for work guy’ can enjoy.
Pros: Chipotle Southwest Sauce has addictive mix of flavors capturing the best of heat, sweet, and tang. Pepper Jack cheese melts into bread and meat. Fresh veggies. Very filling. Attractive sandwich construction. Customization lends itself to flavor. Good price.
Cons: Some chicken strips have rubbery black edges. Too much bread dissipates overall flavor. Exterior edges of bread are slightly burnt in toaster. Holding up the Subway line is a horrifying experience. Inevitable person claiming I'm an idiot for liking something from Subway.
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.50/10
Price: $3.75 for 6″ and $5.00 for footlong (January 2012 only)
Overall GrubGrade: 8.00/10
More Info: Subway.com
Subway Chipotle Chicken and Cheese (6-inch with Pepper-Jack on Flatbread)
Calories – 460
Fat – 20.4 grams
Saturated Fat – 5.6 grams
Cholesterol – 75 milligrams
Sodium – 1020 milligrams
Carbs – 42 grams
Sugars – 4 grams
Dietary Fiber – 3 grams
Protein – 27 grams