While I am determined to focus on local restaurants during my various “Buddha Tours,” I think I would be remiss if I did not include at least a few chain restaurants. For my Sub & Sandwich Tour, the first chain I visited was Jimmy John’s. The franchise is relatively new to this area of the country. However, during my college years in the late 90s, JJs was already well established in the Midwest.
This particular review is for their midtown Atlanta location. However, these places are six of one, half a dozen the other. I would not feel uncomfortable applying this review to any one of their locations.
Do I still need to remind everyone to check out the rules??? Okay then, so let’s move right past the usual setup stuff and onto the sandwiches!
Sandwich One: Vegetarian
Ingredients: Provolone, avocado spread, alfalfa sprouts, sliced cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. (I held the alfalfa)
At first glance, a JJs sandwich is neither daunting nor feeble. As soon as you unwrap it, you see it for what it is: an 8” sub with some stuff on it. If you end up with the French bread (which is their de facto grain of choice) … the initial bite or two will probably take some getting used to. Their French bread is has an intense buttery flavor. I’m not sure at this point exactly how I feel about it. It’s a fairly demonstrative statement about your sandwich: is the bread the show or is it simply a carrier of more distinct flavors. I don’t think any massive chain like this really addresses that issue properly and so I won’t dock them for the choice. However, if you go in and hate it for just that reason … well, I told you so!
The cheeses and vegetables here are reasonably fresh; but, like many of the stops to date, they don’t coax any real emotion from me. I do appreciate that they cut things fresh each day.
There was one fatal flaw with this sandwich: the avocado spread. To be terse, let us just say that it ain’t good! While avocado is a costly ingredient, supplanting it with an inferior concoction is not a solution. If you want to make avocado (or the like) available to your customer base, learn to make guacamole. If not, just don’t do it.
I reluctantly finished this sandwich and quickly reminded myself as to why I asked for no spread or alfalfa in the past.
Sandwich Two: The Italian Night Club
Ingredients: Genoa salami, Italian capicola, smoked ham, and provolone cheese with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, and “homemade” Italian vinaigrette.
I could have sworn I ordered this one on the 7-grain bread. Unfortunately, I did not check the bag when I walked out of the store. Knowing me, it is quite possible that I forgot to specify. In fact, I’ll take it one step further and say it was highly probably. Thus, my experience with the bread was the same as above. In short form: I am somewhat disassociated from Jimmy John’s French bread. I just don’t attach to it one way or the other.
While I can’t say the cheese was bad, I am disappointed that there isn’t more of a choice. Even the usual assortment of American and cheddar, while not ideal for this sucker, would have been nice. In fact, that statement really belongs up with the veggie as another varietal of cheese would have worked fine.
After yesterday’s frolic with Boar’s Head, I’m somewhat mixed on the proteins here. As I said, Boar’s Head is about as good as you can get if you source your material from the brand labels America seems to gravitate towards. This stuff was a step in the wrong direction. The smoked flavor from the ham was lost amongst the fermented flavor of the Genoa and the capicola. I found it humorous that the menu lists the salami as “real Genoa salami.” Unlike the toponymic Champagne, Genoa salami doesn’t come from Genoa.
They need to forgo the use of “homemade” with their Italian vinaigrette. More importantly, they need to lighten the load on it. My sammy was doused in the stuff.
But back to the flavor, I realized why the ham lacked any real punch when mixed in with everything: it was probably your basic Oscar Mayer varietal. While none of them sent me diving for a barf bag, none of them inspired me.
Conclusions & Notes
As you may have noticed by the title of this post, JJ’s calls itself a gourmet sandwich shop. I think that might be a bit of a stretch. Outside of that avocado spread and the oil, there were no glaring shortcomings with Jimmy John’s. Granted, the bread is a pretty opinionated take on a French baguette. I think they use ample product, and given the price point … I’m not surprised by what I had.
Nothing really struck my fancy, but because they deliver and are close to me … I’m sure I’ll visit them some more.