Chain Reaction: We Try Subway's New Big Hot Pastrami Melt

Fast Food

Would you like fries (or onion rings or chicken tenders) with that?


[This photograph: Subway; All others: Lee Movic]

I like this gig. It's not my full-time job, but I take it pretty seriously. I track the newest menu offerings from major chains, field suggestions from friends (thanks, Facebook), family (thanks, text messages from mom), and strangers (thanks, Twitter), and give every review my all. Well, sort of.

My full time job in retail means that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is no time for sleeping, exercise, quality time with loved ones, or eating real food. Luckily, there is a Subway right next door to our store!

That one was too easy, and frankly a bit unfair. Done right, Subway offers diners some of the healthiest fast food options available (see: Jared). Done wrong, you get this.

So yeah, after that hot mess, I would have preferred to stay away for a while. But it's close, and apparently they have something new: the Big Hot Pastrami Melt.

Stop it.

Although I live in Boston now and couldn't tell you where the nearest deli is (I know, I know: "Brookline", but WHERE in Brookline?), I grew up immersed in Cleveland, OH's counter-culture. Subsequently, I have developed the ability to tell you the likelihood that your corned beef, liverwurst, or pastrami sandwich will be up to snuff based solely on the atmosphere in which it's served. (Is there a bucket of pickles on the table? +1 point; how many varieties of Dr. Brown's soda are available? +2 points for each; and so on...) Subway scores pretty low on that scale.


So why was I surprised when, again, my sandwich looked sad right from the start? Did I honestly expect Subway to add rye to its massive bread portfolio? Didn't I learn my lesson about 'lettuce heft' the last time? It's the holidays, I was starving, and I would have eaten a horse.

The meat was utterly unappealing. Somehow both overly salty and under-seasoned, the meat was this sandwich's only chance to get it right (it's hard, though admittedly not impossible, to mess up pickles, mustard, and cheese) and it failed. I took down the 6-inch sandwich in roughly 10 bites, every one of which contained a piece of meat so rubbery and tough that I had to do that thing where you grind your incisors back and forth over it like a saw. It must have been tough to watch, and I was admittedly embarrassed to be eating across from a colleague. Maybe he didn't notice (he definitely noticed).


For me, there aren't enough free vegetables in the world to make this sandwich recommendable to anyone. But as long as Subway doesn't mess with the Italian BMT, they'll continue to get my business.

Plus, they're close.

Happy Holidays!