Sorry, I couldn't resist. As a reader, I know I don't like the idea of covering two restaurants with one review. I can't escape the feeling that one, usually the one I'm most interested in, is getting shortchanged. Still, I do cover several restaurants at a time on my roadtrips, so I guess it's all right. (Note to self: It's your blog, so you can do what you want. Period.) Besides, it's summer so my lovely wife the Rock Star is in full-on sandwich mode at lunchtime (see my previous post), so I know I have her support. Finally, two well-known and respected chains just opened literally across the street from each other in my neighborhood, so I'm gonna go for it! Therefore, without furthur ado (drumroll please): Two sub shops in one review!! (Cue fanfare and murderers.)
JIMMY JOHNS GOURMET SANDWICHES
Jimmy Johns was established in 1983 in Charleston, Illinois (home of Eastern Illinois University, of which Tony Romo is an alum) "to add to student's GPA and general dating ability." (I did not make that up; it was taken directly from the company's website, www.jimmyjohns.com.) No online ordering (yet), so I did the old-fashioned phone-in, pick up thing. (When I arrived, I got a huge chorus of "Welcome to Jimmy Johns!", similar to the reception you get at Mooyah burger just a few doors down.) Since my wife is a club sandwich fanatic, she was delighted to hear that an entire section of the menu is devoted to clubs. She obligingly selected the Country Club: An old-school classic with sliced turkey breast, applewood smoked ham, provolone cheese, and lettuce and mayo on French bread, she devoured every last crumb in record time, so I can't tell you if it was any good or not. (She obviously enjoyed it!) Myself, I couldn't refuse the Vito: Genoa salami, Italian capicola ham, provolone, onion, lettuce, tomato, Italian vinaigrette, with jalapenos added made for one quite fresh and rather tasty sandwich. Good old-school stuff, although I think they should add a few hot subs for variety. Again, website is www.jimmyjohns.com, and it's clear from it that the owners have a great sense of humor.
Founded in Jacksonville, Florida, by two real firefightin' brothers, Firehouse Subs can actually coexist quite peacefully in close proximity with its neighbor because, where Jimmy Johns sells cold sandwiches exclusively, Firehouse specializes in hot subs, cooked in a steamer to retain moisture. Their website, www.firehousesubs.com, does have online ordering, which I greatly prefer because there's a much greater chance of getting the order right if it's written right in front of you! My wife selected the Hero Sub, a three-meat combo with roast beef, smoked turkey breast and Virginia honey ham, plus melted provolone, served "fully involved" (which means lettuce, onion, mayo and mustard; she left off the tomatoes, as usual). She really enjoyed it, and she's not a big fan of hot subs. (Firehouse has only two cold choices, tuna and chicken salad.) I was intrigued by and selected the Hook and Ladder: Smoked turkey breast and Virginia honey ham, topped with melted mozarella and served fully involved as well. Great, although if they had put any spicy mustard on it I couldn't taste any. Still, I think Firehouse must get the nod today as being the better of the two, although since they are both different and good I will make return visits to each. Again, website for Firehouse is www.firehousesubs.com, and you can even order collectable miniature fire trucks! Start your own food war soon, and remember:
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!