Okay – before you throw me out the window for reviewing a “chain” restaurant (and it’s only a few hundred, btw), hear me out about these sandwiches and this shop. I was driving through Woodbury, it was noon and my stomach sounded like a pit bull trapped in a bean bag chair. I needed food. What I got was Sandwich Nirvana.
The bread: In hot dogs, or a memorable burger or a fab sandwich, you don’t get to greatness with a so-so base. The bread must be flavorful, texturally pleasing and sturdy enough to transport the contents without collapsing at the thought of a little dressing or handling. This bread has such tenderness, but the crust is formidable, yet tears effortlessly when you bite into it. Each mouthful gives you a bready whiff that reminds you of home. Beautiful.
The ham and turkey and roast beef are all on a scale with Boar’s Head, which is a quality product, and that’s more than okay with me. The roast beef has character and body and enough fat content to give it richness. And no chewy gristle, either. The ham is a shade on the sweet side and the turkey made you reminiscent of hot-turkey-sandwich, not the supermarket deli. All in all, good, solid marks.
Each sandwich is FULLY hand created: The meat is carved and sliced for you and your sandwich only, while you watch. Want a free taste of peppery cappicola with a smile? I didn’t even ask – they offered! No other sandwich shop EVER did that for me.
I like meat, and I like bread. But here, this fresh produce gets an A+. Dig this: It is prepped almost HOURLY. Hand cut lettuce and individually sliced tomatoes, still wet on the cut-side. THAT is fresh. Nothing at Jersey Mike’s is dumped out of a box or a cellophane bag by a so-called sandwich artist. Tasting truly crisp produce on a sandwich is a detail that should not be overlooked.
“The Juice” is the produce’s gorgeous dance partner. It’s a tasty dressing combination of oil and vinegar with a light, fruity oil and a vinegar that is sweet, not overly bitey or tangy. It fulfills the notion that vinegar, like salt, is a flavor enhancer when done right. It all gets finished with a beautiful flourish of Italian herbs bestowed on top of the juice. What a heady, fragrant combo!
Service? You can tell the difference between someone who is cheerful because the mega-corporation’s training policy says so, or if they simply like you and they’re glad to serve. When the counter guy put The Juice on my sandwich, he literally chirped the song that goes with it: “Two-rows-of-vinegar / Three-rows-of-oil”. Okay, normally, I’ve got a b.s. detector that is set for ‘stun’, but when people are genuine and there is enthusiasm, all I can say is go for it (and thanks for being passionate about my food)! That’s the nice touch at Jersey Mike’s.
All this effort and quality takes a sub to a higher level of Sandwich Nirvana, and it did not feel like a long wait at all. The price was only $6.99 for a sandwich half the size of my head. Even I, me, Dirty Jack….was full. Now that’s saying something.
Recommendation: Put Jersey Mike’s first on your list. This is a sandwich well worth the money. I’m glad they came to Minnesota. All that good quality, a decent floor show, free samples from cheerful people AND I’m full? Fugghedaboudit!