Oh Atlanta S&S Tour, how I have missed you! Travel, temporary sandwich burn out, and life in general caused me to miss a few weeks. What better way to get back in the saddle than with a trip to Star Provisions. In the realm of high-end gourmet shops, SP seems to garner a near godlike appreciation amongst Atlanta socialites. I myself am a big fan; over the years I have enjoyed everything from their wine and cheeses, to their sandwiches, to their eating accessories. But alas, this is the sandwich tour … so with my blinders firmly in place, my camera in hand (UGGHGHGHGHGH), and some help … off to the principal’s office we go! [Sorry – my childhood rears it’s ugly head!]
Stashed over on the west end of Midtown Atlanta, people know Star Provisions as one of the many expanding tentacles of Anne Quatrano’s restaurant group. Part bakery, part deli, part market … they have all the tools necessary to make some killer sandwiches. As with most of my stops, the help gave me much needed perspective on our three samplings.
Sandwich 1: Shrimp Po’ Boy
Ingredients: fried shrimp, Cajun mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce, & pickles on a hoagie roll
I walked in with one thing on my mind: oyster po’boy. My heart sank as I picked up the menu; I had hoped, begged, and implored for that sucker. But alas, I had to settle for its ugly step-child … the shhramps. We should all have it so rough.
This was an excellent sandwich from top to bottom. The shrimp were fried in a mildly spicy batter which had been properly, and evenly, applied to the surface. The result was a delectably crunchy bite. The tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles, all showed farm-to-table qualities. We were both particularly impressed with the tomatoes. Given that they are not in full season, I was pleased to find them soft to the touch and sweet to the taste.
The mayonnaise was the perfect touch. I know many people that seem to revile anything that contains mayonnaise. In fact, just the other day … I saw an angry customer yell at some poor, defenseless server simply for adding mayonnaise to a sandwich. Keeping that in mind, the flavor, consistency, and amount of mayonnaise on the sandwich was ideal. I would recommend it to even the most outspoken enemies of the fatty white stuff. It would appear that the kick in the mayo came courtesy of cayenne and chili pepper. I’ve been wrong before; but, even if I am, I hope that will give you an idea of what to expect.
All the ingredients sat in the middle of a beautifully split hoagie roll. On a po’ boy, I expect my bread to be a method of delivery and not a star of the show. That’s what we got with this bad boy. Nothing over powered my palate, and I didn’t feel “gross” after having devoured a sandwich that was pretty high in fat content.
While not good enough to surpass my oyster po’ boy at Social Vinings (or even their own oyster pb) or that pork sandwich at Sawicki’s, this was one of the better individual performances. This sandwich alone is enough to warrant a trip.
Sandwich 2: Roasted Turkey Sandwich
Ingredients: roasted turkey, smoked bacon, lettuce, cranberry relish, & orange mayonnaise on an Onion roll
As quickly as I recovered from my heartbreak regarding the oyster po’ boy, my hopes were dashed by the turkey sandwich. The eye appeal was there, the aroma was there, and the portion control looked fine. The disappointment started with the first bite but didn’t end when I put the remains down in disgust.
The bread was bland. A good onion roll will let you know what you are eating. While my partner in crime appreciated the huddled mass of onion on the apex of the sandwich, I thought it was too little too late. By the time I reach the center … the lack of flavor in the bread itself was apparent. I feel it was fresh, just flavorless.
I continued past that and searched for something to hang my hat on … nothing jumped. The turkey was moist and high in quality; however, it seemed to lack any of the characteristics I expected. The smoked bacon did little to drive the flavor but did offer up a substantial crunch.
I think the biggest failures here were the condiments. The cranberry relish did little to remind me of relish. Even so, the sweetness there didn’t mix well with the salty bacon. As for the orange mayonnaise… “there was mayonnaise on that?”
Let’s keep this in perspective: my disappointment with this sandwich (and the muffaletta for that matter) was relative. Had this been any one of a multitude of sandwiches in this city – I would have polished it off and been reasonably satisfied. Regardless of who served us this sandwich, there were faults. However, that it was Star Ps made it that much more disappointing.
Sandwich 3: Muffaletta
Ingredients: soppresatta, mortadella, Genoa salami, provolone, & olive salad
This was like the final drive of a stake through my heart. The bread wasn’t just bland, it seemed to sap the meats and cheese of their natural flavors. It was abundant in nature and I couldn’t differentiate it from the onion roll … that’s no bueno.
Meanwhile, I tasted each protein on its own and found them individually appealing. Unfortunately, the three meats were cured in such a way that when layered on top of one and other – their individual personalities went by the wayside. For example: the peppered flavor of the mortadella should have stood on its own. When tasted in the sandwich, I couldn’t differentiate between it or any basic bologna. In fact, I don’t even think I really could detect any hint of mortadella.
The olive “salad” was pungent but good. Unfortunately, what should have been the accent ended up as the dominate component. As I glance at the pictures, I cringe as I am reminded that the olive salad was used more than any other single ingredient. Even if you consider the meats on the whole … it appears they took a backseat to the olive mixture.
The cheese was probably the most difficult item to rate. On the one hand, nothing about the provolone bothered me; however, with Star Provisions’ access to really great cheeses – I found the choice of provolone to be well … a bummer.
Say what you will … but I feel like this was a ham sandwich with olive spread and cheese. That’s a shame, since a muffaletta is one of the more Alpha-sandwiches around.
Conclusions & Notes:
What a disappointment this was. Often regarded as one of the best places in Atlanta for a sandwich, Star Provisions dropped the ball for the tour. The bread was pedestrian while the proteins danced back and forth from AWESOME (aka…shrimp) to huh (soppresatta). The Cajun mayo combined with the flavorful olive salad helped pull up the score on the condiments. Though the olives were used to excess, the portion control on the other sandwiches (as far as condiments went) was spot on.
While these sandwiches are easily better than your run of the mill stuff; they did little to show themselves as champions of ATL.
Tour Ratings (Explained Here)