In the land of the footlong assembly-line sandwich, Subway and Quiznos are king. New York’s chief food critic, Adam Platt, and his 10-year-old daughter, Jane, shuttled between the 23rd Street branches of the chains and compared three popular types of subs, grading them on a scale of 0 (barely edible) to 5 (excellent).
THE CHEESE STEAK
Double Cheesesteak ($8.99)
A wad of dark, dry preheated beef substance, set in a wan sesame-seed bun. There’s no hint of onion (though on inspection, one or two are there), cheese (there may be a few shreds of provolone), or, for that matter, beef flavor.
Big Philly Cheesesteak ($8.25)
The tasteless beef is preheated, and looks ominously overcooked, but mercifully, there’s not much of it. The bread is fluffy, you can add as many (uncooked) onions as you like, and choose Swiss or provolone (I went with the latter).
Classic Italian ($7.99)
The sandwich features several staple Italian deli products (salami, pepperoni, spiced ham), but it’s two-thirds the size of its Subway competitor. Too much vinegar, and the presence of black olives gives it a synthetic, vaguely pizzalike aftertaste.
Spicy Italian ($5)
Subway triumphs again, mostly thanks to the addition of the DIY lettuce, sweet peppers, onions, oil and vinegar (plus a forbidden dash of mayo), to drown out the weirdly orange, passably spicy rounds of pepperoni and a few shreds of very salty ham.2 points
THE HOT TURKEY
Turkey & Cheddar ($4.99)
“This tastes like a mush factory,” says Jane. She’s right. The culprit is too much sweet, Miracle Whip–style mayo, although we liked the balance of relatively inoffensive “oven-roasted” turkey, melted Cheddar, and crunchy toasted sesame-seed bread.
Turkey Breast ($5)
Buried in drifts of lettuce, peppers, onions, sliced tomatoes, pickles, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, mayo, and a dash of grainy mustard, the pale, flaccid bits of turkey actually taste pretty good. “I like this one the best, Dad,” declares Jane. So do I. The champion.
($21.97) 3 points
($18.25) 6 points