Monday, March 11, 2013

Quiznos

12676 Lamplighter Square
Saint Louis, MO 63128
91 Concord Plaza
Saint Louis, MO 63128

* On a sad note, Bandana's in Crystal City burned down this week. From the news coverage it appears that the fire completely gutted the place. The owner offered the 26 employees jobs at other locations and more than half of them took him up on the offer, the others, mostly students, did not. He plans to reopen in a few months, most likely at another location in the area. In the meantime the place will be missed, Angel slips over there for lunch on occasion.

This is not the same one we'd been to before. Apparently the more convenient (on my way home) Lamplighter Square location, across Highway 21 from St. Anthony's Hospital is now a place called Pad Thai, which I assume to be a Thai restaurant.
We were on a quest to try Quiznos' much advertised Lobster Salad Sandwich.
Very disappointed. Also, very lost as what to do. We just drove to the old location and it wasn't there. This was a planned-ahead meal, we wanted Quiznos  and when we found it gone, we were left in a quandary.
So we checked the GPS and the interwebs on Angel's Angry Bird machine, but the GPS was lying to us again and the browser kept timing out on the smartphone. 
So we punted. The Mehlville/Concord  area is home to hundreds of other restaurants, so we decided to drive around until we saw something that appealed to us as much as the anticipated, yet frustrated lust for a lobster sandwich. 
Angel suggested Golden Corral. a big, popular buffet, I reluctantly conceded, sure, why not.
We got to the Corral, parked in the crowded lot and saw a line at the door, extending twenty people deep on the sidewalk. 
"No." I declared, and we turned on our heels and got back into the family truckster.  
So we headed north, arbitrarily, on Lindbergh.
After a mere  mile or so we passed the thirtieth strip mall and Adam shouted out "There's a Quiznos" with the style and enthusiasm of a young sailor atop a tall ship's mast spotting his first breaching whale.  
Angel abruptly pulled into the next parking lot, sped the truckster to an exit south of the spotted target, and dived across four lanes to get to the  place.
Parking space in front of the store looked tight  so we parked in the larger lot uphill from it and walked past the jewelry store, where a dozen or so young, obviously high maintenance women were ogling shiny rocks, as their suitors looked on, the financial wear and tear showing on their faces. I bet some of them actually bought in to that three-month-salary myth. Poor, ignorant saps.
Inside the small place was colorful, the walls were painted purple, green and orange. The front of the counter was loaded up with racks of chips, a pretty wide selection. A young man and a young woman, late teens to early twenties, manned the line. We were greeted and asked our order by the woman, the man pulled on clear, plastic gloves, preparing to dive in.
The Food:
We already knew what we wanted, but we still had decisions to make, the first being the type of bread.
 They offered white, wheat, foccacia and... something. We stopped at foccacia, a white bread baked with herbs and / or cheese in the crust. Angel went first.
Toasted bread.
An eight inch lobster salad sandwich which she topped with yellow onions, olives and a little mayo. I did the  same but without the olives.
The young lady pulled out a cutting board, notched with the different sizes offered. She lined up the bread and slid the big knife down and through the guide slots, thus guarantying uniform sized sandwiches.
She then sliced through the middle, opening it up for the ingredients, and sat the halves  face up on the toaster grill's conveyor. Out the other side came perfectly toasted bread, a little char on the edges.
The young man scooped on the seafood salad, and lettuce. This is the basic offered version. He added the onions, olives and mayo on Angel's and the onions and mayo on mine.
In the mean time Adam's Mesquite Chicken sub went through similar assembly, no tomatoes and no onions please.
We each selected a bag of chips, BBQ for me, BBQ kettle-style for Angel, and Adam picked out his usual Sun Chips.
The sandwiches were wrapped and set into plastic, skillet-like baskets. Our bill was tallied up and we were handed cups.
Across from the counter were the drink dispensers. I got unsweetened black tea, Angel picked out raspberry lemonade, Adam poured a Pepsi.  
The first bite reminded me why I like Quiznos better than Subway, the crunch of the thin bread. Subway will toast your bread, but only if you remember to ask, and Subway's bread is much thicker.
Dissected
The foccacia had a mild herby taste. The Lobster salad itself was a bit timid. Though it boasted a butter sauce, it was barely noticeable. There was definitely lobster, not just krab.
Krab, like you find in grocery stores is actually a seafood blend consisting of fish, maybe some shrimp, maybe some crab, maybe just some flotsam and jetsam, I'm not  sure. It has a slight sea-foody taste and makes for pretty good soups, dips and seafood salads on the cheap. I had read ahead and found a claim that Quiznos lobster salad was 51% lobster and 49% etc., which I assumed to be krab.
Like I said, there was definitely some lobster.
Sitting at our tight tall table, I tried to analyze the lobster salad. It wasn't bad, at all, but the texture seemed odd. Then a small ball, about a half inch in diameter fell out of the side, bounced off my shirt and silently ker-splatted on the tile floor. It kept its basic ball shape.
I ate half my sandwich and half my chips, wrapped up the rest. I was full.
Actually I was bloaty. I'd had a salad around noon using up some produce etc. nearing the end of its edible shelf life. The tuna salad I topped the salad with may have been a little older than I'd thought and I spent the day felling a little odd, not nauseous, just suffering a mild disturbance in the force.
Adam and Angel finished theirs up without delay.
Seafood Ball
Most comments by the family trio were about the superb-ness of the bread. The lobster salad received no negative comments, but there were mentions of not enough butter taste, and the overall taste being a bit light.
When we got home I dissected the rest of my sandwich to investigate the ball-nature of the seafood.
I discovered that in fact the lobster salad was all-balls. 
Unlike other seafood salads I've had the seafood was not shredded, it actually was formed into little sturdy balls. This probably seemed like a great idea, easier to portion out equally, but in actual practice, it created a texture issue. It was tasty, indeed, but the little balls just felt wrong in the mouth. Not having a strong taste, this texture was very noticeable.
Summary:
The Lobster salad sandwich is the priciest item on the Quiznos menu, at about eight bucks for a regular. And it is no lightweight either, nutritionally speaking. A regular, eight inch sandwich boasts 760 calories, nearly half of that in fat with 110 grams of cholesterol. So this is not a diet delight, though it's not nearly as bad as a greasy half pound burger.
Thick, splendid chili
Our total bill came to twenty eight dollars and change, a reasonable fast food price. There was plenty of food, nobody left hungry.
On our way out I picked up Sunday lunch/dinner. Two large bowls of chili. I like their chili a lot, it's thick and not too spicy, not too tame.*
On the drive home we discussed it further and decided that we might have the sandwich again, but no more likely than any of their other sandwiches. It was fine, pretty good in fact, but hardly something worth the extra price and all the ballyhoo.
Location for us is an issue. This store is apparently the closest one to our house, more than thirty minutes away in good traffic. It's out of my way as a stopping point on the way from work, so it's not likely we'll make it there very often. This is a shame considering that there's a Subway and Cool Beans Java Cafe in Hillsboro, much, much closer.  Cool Beans makes killer sandwiches, Subway is fast, easy and convenient.
I still think Quiznos overall is much better than Subway, just too far away.



*  This chili was not what I expected. Unlike the chili from the Lamplighter location, this stuff tasted like it was fresh from a can. Angel noticed that it looked completely different too. I will not be having this again.


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