Subway Sandwich Shops | Various Locations

MOST PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THEY'RE getting into when they eat at a fast food place. Even if it's a place that defends its menu by marketing itself on their healthier items. Subway has always been such a place, making its customers even feel guilt-free about ordering a meatball marinara hero because they could cover the "healthy" part by tossing on some onions and fresh basil.

So it was with automatic cynicism that I arrived at the Subway across the street from my apartment this morning, finally open by 8 a.m. so they can serve their new breakfast items, egg sandwiches. The one thing that Subway has always had going for them was that they bake their bread on premise. Conversely, the one thing they had against them was that none of the other food items are. Which means that meatballs, chicken breasts, and steak arrive at the stores pre-cooked and packaged, pumped with any number of preservatives. This is also how they are able to get customers in and off the line so quickly.

And as I've gotten use to watching pre-cooked bacon being layered upon my tuna salad subs (with olives, pickles, onions and lettuce, mind you. Veggies!), it was a whole new new surreality to watch pre-cooked egg "rounds"—available in "white" or "yellow", as my sandwich artist called them (?!)—being layered into the bread as I ordered a Black Forest ham, egg and cheese on a (pre-toasted but likewise not baked on premise) English muffin, and—to make good use of the toppings station that is made fully available for breakfast!—a steak an egg 6" sub on an Italian roll with chipotle sauce, red onions, and provolone. Both sandwiches were ready in mere seconds.

Yes, they definitely look breakfast sandwiches, and short of having Jamie Oliver standing my shoulder while I took bites of each, the bottom line really is: How did they taste? Well, I might say, thankfully, the egg was one of the last things I tasted, because once I did, it was kind of a letdown. I couldn't help but think that they only came up with this egg product—so thin and unfluffy it was more it taste and texture like a slightly dense crepe—so they had a way to sell their other food items an extra four hours a day. The Egg McMuffin still sells because the egg looks, feels and tastes like an egg, and probably because they're cooked on premise (most people don't believe, but it's true. Or at least it was when I worked at Mickey D's some almost 30 years ago).

The steak and egg was a little better, but only because it was more of a meat sandwich with sauce and, perchance, and egg, as opposed to the other way around. And I think a very cool idea to have a place where someone could really get original customizing their breakfast sandwich any number of ways.

Again, Subway started out about the bread; that's a large reason why they were able to outmarket Blimpie's here in the city. The stuff that goes inside the bread has been secondary. And, in my opinion, you're better off getting your morning "sammich" from a place that may not have ovens, but has a flattop grill—like my corner deli—as opposed to the other way around. It might take a little longer, but, much like NYC's subway system, if you're not running late, isn't the local the more enjoyable ride...?

Bun Apple Tea!


Subway Sandwich Shops | Various Locations