Today’s sandwich is the “Steak, Egg, and Cheese” breakfast sandwich from Subway. The menu describes it as, “Our delicious omelet made with our savory shaved steak, American and Monterey cheddar cheeses, fresh toasted on your choice of bread and topped with your choices of veggies and sauces.”
Location: 962 St. John Street
Price: $2.50 (6 inch)
Notes: I usually have an urge for a breakfast sandwich under some very specific conditions. Usually, one of those conditions may include my decision the previous night to see how much Jim Beam I could drink, while still maintaining the ability to speak. On those difficult mornings, I turn to a simple combination of bacon, egg, and cheese. Ideally, the egg is fried, and the third component you notice in the sandwich. The egg should be nothing more than a gesture, with piles of bacon and American cheese making up the bulk of the sandwich. Add some hot sauce, and slide the whole mess onto a poppy seed Kaiser roll, and you’re well on the road to recovery.
Using this formula, there isn’t a lot of room in my life for innovation, in the realm of the breakfast sandwich. I have my ideal already in mind, and it is a simple pleasure. This always made me reluctant to try the new breakfast offerings at Subway. Subway, to me, hangs a lot of success on the customer’s ability to “customize” their sandwich, with an array of vegetables that all taste the same, before being doused in different chemically sauces, right at the end. Where was there room in the Subway sandwich for a Bacon/Egg/Cheese purist like myself?
After listening to my brother rave about the breakfast options (“Dude! You can get a footlong bacon egg and cheese and a coffee for TWO DOLLARS!”), I thought I would give them a try. Right away, the first issue with my sandwich was the lack of secrecy during its preparation. The Sandwich Artist that I was working with was very free about waving around the giant disc of pre-cooked egg envelope, before tossing it in the microwave. She laid it on a six inch white split loaf, and that’s when I got a little panicky. So far, there was only a dried-out egg-bag and several triangles of American cheese on my sandwich. “And steak,” I sputtered. Shaved, pre-cooked steak in a cardboard tray appeared out of nowhere, got its turn in the microwave, and was added to the sandwich. The whole thing went into the insta- convection toaster. After a few moments, the sandwich was warmed, and awaiting my additional ingredient requests.
Additional ingredients? What in the world was available from the Subway topping bar that would possibly make sense on a hot breakfast sandwich? Cucumbers? Black olives? Green peppers? I couldn’t see anything that seemed like a good fit. “Banana peppers?” I offered. And what kind of sauce would I like? SAUCE? Again, nothing made sense. Ranch? Chipotle? Buffalo wing? “Um, just salt and pepper, please,” I asked.
The resulting sandwich, as you might expect, lacked a lot of pizazz. The egg completely vanished into the flavors (?) of the shaved steak. The cheese, which I had seen applied with my own eyes, vanished somewhere. And the soft, white bread, normally a reliably, disgustingly delicious component of a Subway sandwich, had been rendered weirdly brittle and crunchy in the toaster. All I could taste was frozen steak bits and banana peppers. Most of it went to the dog.
A balanced breakfast sandwich, made of bacon, egg, and cheese, requires nothing more than for each of those ingredients to be delicious. The biggest problem with Subway’s breakfast offerings is that they turn their back on Subway’s key appeal, which is adding tons of additional ingredients onto some mediocre base ingredients. A ham sandwich from Subway, without lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, green bell peppers, onions, black olives, cucumbers, shredded carrots, baby spinach, meatballs, bacon, and teriyaki sauce, just flat-out doesn’t taste like much. On the breakfast sandwich, when all you are left with is a pre-cooked, microwaved egg, some shaved meat of unknown origin, and a roll that has been ruined by an Insta-toaster, the results are pretty disappointing.