Breakfast Flatbread Showdown: Subway vs. Dunkin'
It's hard to pass a Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru in the morning and not say, "I'm in the wrong business." Each morning, I watch as commuter vehicles wrap around the Dunkin' near my office, snagging all those in need of morning pick-me-ups. In the age of corporate strategy, though, there's no way a competitor will let you dominate a market unchallenged for very long. A while back, Dunkin' began offering egg white flatbread sandwiches, a lower-calorie alternative to its heavier breakfast fare—and to bolster their breakfast offerings, Subway now makes flatbread versions of their breakfast sandwiches. I set out to see how they would compare.
Ironically (as far as transportation terminology goes), there is a Subway inside the gas station near my office, adjacent to the Dunkin' Donuts. I stopped in Subway first and ordered from a sandwich artist wearing a T-shirt that advertised "Now Serving Breakfast"—getting one Western Egg and Cheese Flatbread ($2.50) and the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Flatbread ($3.00). Both come with a choice of a regular egg or egg white omelette. By "omelette," of course, I mean pre-cooked disk of egg, thinner than Dunkin or McDonald's, but with twice the diameter. On my Western, I chose the egg white with Black Forest Ham, green peppers, and red onions. The Bacon, Egg and Cheese had strips of bacon, yellow egg, and white American cheese. Both came on flatbread, and both were lightly toasted.
Whereas in previous posts, I criticized the toasting at Subway, the Western stayed nice and warm, even on the drive over to Dunkin'. As for the quality of the sandwich itself, the flatbread was chewy, a lot like their sandwich breads; the egg omelette was surprisingly soft and moist, and tasted not unlike real egg. The peppers and onions were very crisp, and the white American cheese, while unexciting, was gooey and warm after the toasting. Altogether, the vegetables really popped, and made it taste like a real Western omelette. As for the bacon, egg, and cheese—the egg was surprisingly good, the cheese was fine, and the flatbread was fresh (though chewy). It bears mentioning that Subway does not skimp on the bacon; mine had a full four strips. When I bit into it, my tastebuds shouted "Bacon!" like the dog in the Beggin' Strips commercial. I was all about it—but I could see where others might find fault in its lack of subtlety.
Over at Dunkin', I chose an egg white flatbread sandwich with turkey sausage, and a bacon, egg, and cheese flatbread (both $2.89). I'll admit that the time from order to sandwich-in-hand was a bit quicker at Subway. The first thing that I noticed about my sandwich, though, was that they had switched from a triangular flatbread to a circular one. On both sandwiches, the flatbread tasted stale and burnt as opposed to toasted. Rather than crunching like toast or giving easily like Subway's flatbread, it was difficult to chew; I almost had to tear a bite off. It didn't taste toasted, as much as reheated, given that the egg white was lukewarm, and the cheddar wasn't gooey. I could barely taste the turkey sausage or the vegetables, leaving the sharp taste of the cheddar as the only redeeming part of the sandwich. As for their Bacon, Egg, and Cheese—the one they sold me was terrible. It had one measly half-strip of bacon, and again, I had to tear through the flatbread.
Subway, hands down. There is not too much difference in price, and the quality of the sandwich is far superior. My favorite sandwich was the cheapest, at $2.50. Even though they do pre-cook the egg, it doesn't taste that way, and they make a good attempt to manufacture the sandwich in front of you. The freshness of the bread, the warmth of the sandwich, the gooey-ness of the cheese all made for a delightful breakfast. The Dunkin experience? It left me wanting.
That said, the only aspect of Subway I found peculiar was a lack of transparency with respect to calorie content—not a dealbreaker for everyone, but certainly something a number of people take into account. Subway has two websites, and neither explicitly lists how many calories a flatbread sandwich contains, though they list the flatbread itself at 230 calories; through deductive reasoning, it seems that a bacon-loaded egg flatbread is about 550 calories, nearly double a Dunkin' egg white flatbread. But all that aside, I could still see adding Subway to my morning routine.
Anyone else out there a flatbread sandwich fan?