Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches – Latham, NY
I guess I’m pretty susceptible to subliminal advertising.
A Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shop opened up recently in Latham (next to the now defunct Hoffman’s Playland), and I was obsessed with checking it out. Keep in mind, I was fully aware that it was just a chain sandwich shop. But I couldn’t pinpoint where this irrational tractor beam came from.
Then it hit me…
Brock Lesnar, for some odd reason, is the only wrestler who has endorsements on his ring gear. That made it worse. My thought was, if this place is awesome enough to get to advertise their stuff on a show that is really stingy with endorsements, it’s gotta be good.
So I went.
There’s a menu board, but it was a little small for me, so I picked up a paper copy, which had the same content as the menu board squeezed onto a little flyer that was maybe a little easier to read.
At the heart of it, they offer three different styles of sandwiches. There are subs, which have meat and toppings on 8 inches of their signature bread. There are slims which have just the meat and the bread, and then there are giant clubs, which are like subs but have more meat.
Then, to make it a little more complicated, they’ll do any sandwich on their freshly baked bread (apparently, they guarantee that the roll your sandwich is made on is no more than 4 hours old), sliced multigrain bread, or in a lettuce wrap (aka a JJ Unwich) for the same price.
I was going all out for this trip, so I ordered two sandwiches. I wasn’t prepared for both to be ready before I was handed my receipt; that’s part of their schtick. They make sandwiches
freaky ridiculously fast.
The first one I tried was the Big John Sub (medium rare choice roast beef, mayo, lettuce, and tomato $ 5.25).
The sandwich bread is hollowed out prior to assembly, which I actually like. And the layering of toppings is done to minimize the toppings coming out the back end as you eat through. In some cases, there’s so much on there that it’s almost impossible to avoid this, but it’s a valiant effort.
From the bottom up, the Big John sub has Hellmann’s mayo, tomato, roast beef, and finely shredded lettuce. The meat is sliced thick, but probably half as thick as Subway. The roast beef was not outstanding, and medium-well, not medium-rare. The bread, however, was the star of the sandwich, and really makes the experience. I’d say it’s kind of a poor man’s baguette, but it’s very flavorful and is perfect bread for a sub sandwich.
The other sandwich I ordered was the Beach Club off their “Giant Club” menu (turkey breast, provolone cheese, avocado spread, sliced cucumber, lettuce, tomato and mayo – $6.25). They talked me into adding sprouts and hot pickled peppers.
As I ate through this, I realized that they had left off the sprouts and the cucumber, but those aren’t dealbreakers for me. I was the only one in the restaurant as I ate, so the staff kept asking how I was doing. I didn’t hesitate to tell them they forgot some ingredients, and they offered to give them to me, but I declined. Maybe an extra 2 seconds making the sandwich would have avoided the omissions, but we’ll never know for sure.
The turkey was pretty good, and sliced much thinner than I would expect for a place that pre-slices their cold cuts. The hot peppers were also a great touch, as they added some heat and acidity to this pretty rich sandwich. The avocado spread and mayo were on opposite ends of the bread; having both sides well lubricated made it pretty easy for the toppings to slide out the back.
I was absolutely stuffed by the middle of the beach club, but I pushed through (look who you’re talking to). I’m probably just going to stick to one giant club (or the JJ Gargantuan) on future visits.
I don’t eat subs often, but I’d totally hit up Jimmy John’s again when I’m in the mood. It’s difficult to talk about a sub chain without comparing it to Subway, but there’s honestly no comparison. Their rolls alone make the experience worthwhile (don’t even bother with the multigrain or lettuce wrap options).
What I’ve tasted at Jimmy John’s has been authentic and delicious, and not terribly unlike the subs I spent years making for customers in my dad’s Italian deli. If nothing else, it has lots of character, and that counts for a lot in my opinion.