Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quiznos' Subs and Suds Dinner

Reading my blog, you can probably guess that I'm not intimidated going to a fancy tasting menu or chef's dinner. But life for the Single Guy isn't all sweetbreads and truffle-infused foam. It's not always caviar and petit fours.

Which brings me to how I spent my Tuesday night this week. I was at a tasting dinner in a lovely SOMA loft in San Francisco. My host? Quiznos. The dinner? Subs, subs, and more subs.

Full disclosure: I've maybe eaten at Quiznos twice in my life. They have more creative subs than Subway, but it's not like a regular lunch spot for me. But when I was invited to check out the company's latest new subs on the menu, I was intrigued by the idea that the dinner would be paired with beer from San Francisco's own Speakeasy Ales and Lagers.

First off, here were the the guys guiding us through the dinner. On the left is Zach Calkins, the in-house chef at Quiznos who comes up with new menu items from the company's test kitchen in Denver, Colo. On the right is the guy from Speakeasy Ales, Kushal Hall, who's the lead brewer. Doesn't he totally look set for a "Fear the Beard" promo for the Giants?

Dinner began with the Honey Mustard Chicken Salad and a bowl of Broccoli Cheese Soup. These are regular items on the Quiznos' menu and are fan favorites. I thought the salad was what you would expect (I could have done without the long shredded cheese on top and the flat bread was a bit tough) and the soup was tasty and creamy. This course was paired with a glass of White Lightening American Wheat that was a nice, light-bodied ale.

Next was another classic, the Italian sub. And surprisingly with the first bite, I totally fell in love with this Quiznos standard. The light vinegar flavor with thinly sliced salami, ham and pepperoni, worked well with the nicely toasted bread. Not sure if the bread is this well toasted at the stores, but if it is, I would always get this.

A new item is the Pesto Turkey Bullet, which is inspired by the take-away sandwiches in Italy. This was also very good, with a nice balance of pesto sauce and thinly sliced turkey with mozzarella. It all fell together, again, because of the nice toasty baguette. I can see how this would be a great sandwich on the go. (The longer version of the bullet is called the torpedo.)

We washed the sandwiches down with a Big Daddy IPA, which was one of the night's favorite for me.

More new sandwiches: This is the BBQ Chicken Ranch, which Calkins said was inspired by the popularity of ranch dressings based on market research. This was good, but I felt the ranch dressing was overpowered by the barbecue sauce. Calkins says the ranch really contributes to the moisture rather than the flavor.

This is the Turkey Cuban Sub, inspired by the Cubana (which BTW is one of my favorite sandwiches). Instead of pork, Quiznos used the easier turkey (for the franchisees) combined with ham. Swiss cheese and pickles. I think the success of a Cubana comes in the toasted pressed bread, and at least tonight, the bread and preparation totally delivered. Hopefully this can be translated at the stores.

The previous two subs were paired with a Prohibition Ale, which is starting to get heavier as the nice progresses.

This is the Buffalo Chicken Sub and I was excited about this because anything that sounds like buffalo wings surely must be a winner. But Calkins admits that they're still tweaking this menu, so it probably will be different at the stores. On this night, the color wasn't close to buffalo wings and the chicken texture was a bit lumpy. And the flavor was more like spicy buffalo wings.

This is the new Smoked Chipotle Turkey Sammie (in a flat bread), and I like chipotle peppers but this lacked any punch. Maybe because my tastebuds got killed by the spicy buffalo sub.

We paired the past two with a Double Daddy-Double IPA. Say that 10 times fast.

The final two subs of the night actually weren't my favorites. The French Dip Sub looked cute and sounded like a classic, but lacked much flavor. The dip, admittedly, was a bit thinner tonight than what it might be at the stores.

The final sub was the Prime Rib Mushroom and Swiss Sub with garlic aioli. This sounded good on paper and really looked hefty, but I was overpowered by the mushrooms. It had that musky mushroom flavor that can be off-putting. That totally ruined it for me despite the tender beef.

The night ended with this extremely heavy Payback Porter.

It was an interesting night of subs and ale/lager, and I learned a lot about how Quiznos try to come up with new ideas but balance the excitement of new subs with the practicalities of rolling it out to stores nationwide while maintaining quality. Quite a tall order. But from what I tasted tonight, they definitely are adventurous and are not afraid to shoot for the moon.


agent713 said...

"as the nice progresses" Really? The nice? Sounds like a good night ;)

Interesting feature. I rarely eat at Quizno's but this kind of piqued my interest.

foodhoe said...

hah, unfortunately Quiznos is the one sandwich shop that is walking distance from my office, so I admit that I am somewhat of a regular... these renditions that you enjoyed do not resemble what I endure out at the Willow Pass shop! I once ordered the prime rib, which was sliced paper thin and dry as leather, it was frankly hideous. I do like the Italian classic too, that's about the only one that looks like what they serve in the store.

Single Guy Ben said...

Foodhoe, I was wondering how it would be at the store. In fact, the things I ate didn't look at all like photos on their website. In fact, the subs on the website look huge compared to what I ate. So I'm sure the real thing is somewhere in between. Give the turkey pesto bullet a try. It was pretty good.