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Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Review

14

Category : Hoagies, Sandwiches, Subs

Jimmy John's on Federal Highway in Fort LauderdaleJimmy John’s likes to refer to their product as “Gourmet Sandwiches”, but anything in a long hoagie roll I call a sub. The ‘sandwich/sub’ genre of food is probably the most crowded for downtown eaters. In just minutes we have access to Jimmy John’s, Firehouse Subs, Quiznos, Subway and a slew of other mom and pop stores that pepper the downtown landscape.

Located in a small plaza on Federal Highway just outside downtown Fort Lauderdale, Jimmy John’s is surprisingly easy to get in and out of. Ordering is shockingly faster than most places and the menu is straightforward and easy.

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
Website: Yes
Phone: (954) 467.1777
City: Fort Lauderdale
Location (map): S. Federal Hwy
Delivery: Yes
Outdoor seating: Yes
Lunch $: $6-$9 approx.
Dinner $: same

They offer a variety of subs and are notable for their delicious bread they bake to make each sandwich with.

Even though ordering is ultra fast, they do offer delivery.  You can often see the Jimmy John’s delivery cars whiz by the downtown area with the little advertisement on the top of their car.

Prices are decent and they do have a repeat customer card you can use to earn yourself a free sub once in awhile.

Todd’s Review of the Billy Club Sandwich:

Two Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches ready for consumptionToday I decided to get a “Giant Club Sandwich”, which later I compared to Brandon’s regular sized ($1 cheaper) sub and they are pretty much identical. The Billy Club has roast beef and smoked ham, complimented with provolone cheese, lettuce, Dijon mustard, mayo and tomato. As I always do, I removed the tomato. No need for those vile little things messing up my sub.

Jimmy John’s makes a solid sub that is better than most of it’s competitors. The sub roll is often the unsung hero of a good sandwich, and Jimmy John’s has a tasty recipe that is relatively moist giving a full bodied feeling. The main flavors coming from the sub are the deep flavors of the beef, not being overpowered by the mustard or mayo.

At 8″, this sized sub satisfies the typical American eater. I got a combo that included chips and a drink, but in reality, the sub by itself would be sufficient for my lunch. It’s a good size that won’t disappoint. The meat and ‘fixins’ aren’t exactly overflowing out of the sub, but it makes for a just right amount of everything. What’s most important to me is taste followed by volume. This sub scores well on both marks.

Is it the best sub in the area? No. I would argue that Firehouse Subs makes a slightly better sub as does Publix (believe it or not). A future trip to LaSpadas’s should help determine who has the best in the area. In a crowded south florida sandwich market, Jimmy John’s is one I would recommend however. Better than most, average pricing, quick and consistent service and a good tasting sub make for a winning combo.

Todd’s score: 82/100
Pro: Moist roll, meats taste good, good balance of toppings, subs travel well.
Con: I have to pack my own to go order, while good it is sort of ordinary.

Brandon’s Review of the Beach Club Sandwich:

Two Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches ready for consumptionToday I ordered the Beach Club sandwich which consisted of turkey, provolone, tomato, cucumber, avocado spread and mayonnaise (I had them hold the alfalfa sprouts). As a testament to their amazingly fast service, I kid you not that my sandwich was ready to go before I put my wallet back in my back pocket. Yes I was impressed.

Back at the office when it came time to eat the sandwich, I unwrapped it with great anticipation. It actually looked very good and comparable to the pictures on Jimmy John’s website and in the restaurant. (So many times the picture of the food looks nothing like what you actually receive). As expected based on the smell of the bread, the sandwich itself was delicious. The bread was crispy on the outside while maintaining an exceptional chewiness on the inside. As I ate the sub, I noticed the turkey and cheese sliding out the other end of the bread which made the sandwich look bigger than it actually was. The standard size sub that I ordered was plenty filling and quite satisfying.

Overall I enjoyed Jimmy John’s quite a lot and expect to be back there again many times in the days ahead. Given that Jimmy John’s is a sandwich chain I’ll compare them to other restaurant sandwich chains and as such I would place them in the following order:

1.) Tie – Jimmy John’s & Firehouse Subs

2.) Quiznos

3.) Subway

As we review more sandwich restaurants in the south florida/ft. lauderdale area, I expect this order may change.

Brandon’s score: 85/100
Pro: Delicious bread, unique menu options, price comparable to competition.
Con: Not a huge menu; Some people may find options bland

Todd’s review of the ClubTuna:

Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches - Club TunaTuna subs are a sinful guilty pleasure of mine.  38 grams of fat might be a little high, but ooooh, they taste so good.  Jimmy John’s made my sub in lightning speed.  By the time I picked the flavor of ships I was going to get, it was ready!

Getting back to the office, I noticed they added some gourmet touches with toppings like alphalpha sprouts, and a fresh provolone cheese that was abnormally rich (in a good way) which complimented this sub.  Though the photo only shows ‘the fixins’ piled on top, there was plenty of tuna underneath.

There tuna is very good, better than the subway tuna sub for sure.  Fresh bread that is consistent along with unique toppings, flavorful cheese and of course, tasty tuna make the difference.  It’s a good change of pace compared to the typical blend of meats most subs consist of.

Todd’s score: 84/100
Pros: Good tasting tuna sub with some unique toppings, made lighting quick!
Cons: Sorta pricey when you get chips and drink (combo) at $8.75

Todd’s Review of the Bootlegger Club Sandwich:

Jimmy John's - Bootlegger ClubThough I would try something new today.  The Bootlegger Club has turkey and roast beef, with some basic condiments like lettuce, provolone cheese and mayo.  A couple of bites in and I was already feeling a little lack-luster.

Having eaten so many subs recently that offer that extra something, this one is just too basic.  Meat and bread is about all you really taste as you go through the sub.  Looking above at my Billy Club review, perhaps that dijon mustard really makes the difference.  Firehouse makes a hot version of this sub that is really quite good.  I’ll have to review that one soon.

On the positive side the sub is a good size and you’ll be full after having eaten it, but this is one Jimmy John’s sandwich I would recommend skipping.

Jimmy Johns - Repeater Eater CardNot all is lost however, having ordered 2 subs today (I picked up one for Brandon as well), I got 2 stamps on my Repeater Eater Card, so that means 1 more sub and I’ve got a freebee on the way.  It sure takes awhile to get that free sub!

So, no high praise today, but good to know what works and what doesnt at Jimmy John’s.  I will also add that I came to Jimmy John’s at a busy time, but their staff was able to crank out my order very quickly which was very impressive.

Todd’s score: 62/100
Pros: Fills you up, meats have a good taste
Cons: Sub is just too basic.  Only flavors are from the meats, needs… something

Todd’s review of the Vito Italian Sandwich:

Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches - Vito Italian SubIn another attempt to find Jimmy John’s best sandwich, I quest and try something new.  As a lifelong fan of Italian subs, I finally give the “Vito” a try (their version of an Italian sub) which has “The original Italian sub with genoa salami, provolone, capicola, onion, lettuce, tomato & a real tasty Italian vinaigrette. (Hot peppers by request)”.

I got mine without tomato as I always do of course!

Unwrapping my sub I uttered a little ‘hmph’ sound wen inspecting the goodies within.  In a single word, I would describe my findings as ‘thin’.  The meats combined only were a few millimeters thick.

Taste-wise the sub was just okay.  It was a typical Italian sub but it was lacking in overall quality and taste.  Usually I get mustard and mayo on mine, but ordered “as is”, the sub doesn’t have either.  I should have inspected the toppings more closely when I ordered, as this may have made a big difference.  Lastly, the hot peppers I got were actually too strong for the sub, they overpowered it and I ended up picking most of them off.

Personally, my favorite Italian Sub is from Laspada’s and Publix.

With that said, my quest for the perfect Jimmy John’s sub will continue.  For now, I am content with some of the others I’ve reviewed already.

Todd’s Score: 73/100
Pros: decent toppings
Cons: Skimpy, peppers were overpowering, taste was a little lacking.

Waiting to order our subs at Jimmy John's The Jimmy John's Menu

Argentelle Cafe Review

2

Category : American, French, Sandwiches

Argentelle Cafe in Riverfront on Las OlasThe Argentelle Cafe may very well be the reason for a renaissance at Riverfront on Las Olas Blvd.  This former downtown Fort Lauderdale hot spot is going through a transition.  Out are the old familiars (Dan Marino’s, Hooters and Ugly Tuna Saloona) and slowly but surely new blood is opening its doors.

Argentelle Cafe
Website: Yes
Phone: (954) 522.4002
City: Fort Lauderdale
Location (map): Riverfront
Delivery: No (they do cater)
Outdoor seating: Yes
Lunch $: $7-8 approx.
Dinner $: NA

The Argetelle Cafe is run by Chef Remy, who’s mild French accent welcomes patrons each day.  Remy is a culinary chef with roots in New York and France.

Workers in the downtown Fort Lauderdale area now have access to semi-gourmet cuisine focusing on French/American dining.  The Argentelle Cafe also provides catering services to local businesses.

Todd’s Review of the Chicken Marsala:

Argentelle Cafe - Chicken Breast Saute with Sauce & Mushroom & Mashed PotatosEach day the Argentelle Cafe offers a unique daily special.  I am privy to what the specials are each day because I am on their e-mail distribution list (bottom right of page).  Today’s special was Poitrine de Poulet Saute Marsala, a.k.a. Chicken Breast Saute with Sauce & Mushroom & Mashed Potato.  I recommend you call your order in prior to arriving to save yourself 15 minutes.

I will give credit where it is due.  As far as taste is concerned, Remy knows what he is doing.  His Marsala sauce is excellent and it actually had me licking the container after my meal was done so I could enjoy every last drop.  The chicken was delicate and tender and his mashed potatoes are well seasoned.  Of the various specials that come and go, this has to be one of my favorites.

The daily specials usually come to $7 even (after tax), which makes this a killer deal for the lunch crowd.  So Remy scores high in value and flavor.

The portions could be just a little larger in my opinion though.  While the quality of the food is exceptional, the portions are ‘just enough’.  So, the good news is you won’t get fat while enjoying Remy’s entrees.

Todd’s Score: 86/100
Pros: Botton line – the food tastes great and is well seasoned, semi gourmet lunch fare, nice side options ((very good)french fries, salad w/ balsamic dressing, veggie).
Cons: Portions are average in size. Little bit of a wait if you come during peak lunch hour.  Not all daily specials are as exciting.

Todd’s review of the Roasted Pork:

Argentelle Cafe - Roasted Pork with Mashed PotatoOn this 55 degree day in Fort Lauderdale, a warm special from Chef Remy sounded good.  Today’s email blast announced the special was Roasted Pork with mashed potato.  From prior experience I knew that this would probably be a winner.

The portions were slightly larger than the last special I got, which is a good thing.  This meal satisfies on its own and you’ll walk away feeling like you just had a Sunday dinner from mom.  Everything was great and as always, the meat and potatos were seasoned perfectly making for a hearty, and of course…. ‘tasty’ lunch.  At $7, you can’t go wrong.

Todd’s Score: 86/100
Pros: Portions and gravy were heftier in size for this special which was great.  Well seasoned and delicious!
Cons: None

Todd’s review of the Meatloaf:

Argentelle Cafe - Meatloaf and mashed potatoes specialNot all meals I review put a grin on my face by simply looking at it.  The meatloaf and mashed potatoes have an indulgent grace that lets you know it will be a treat, without even tasting it.

The portions are very good and the food is exactly how I like it… lots of gravy and with superb taste!  No salt or pepper needed, this meal is perfect right out of the box!  The first question I asked myself when taking my first bite was “I wonder if this is some pre-made gravy”.  After downing a large helping of potatoes and gravy,  you instantly appreciate the harmony that this meal offers.  The sauce is rich and perfectly complimenting to the meat and potatoes.  The meatloaf was hearty and makes for a satisfying meal.

Chef Remy says it’s a new special and I am happy to welcome it!  Very satisfying for a hungry downtowner!

Todd’s Score: 88/100
Pros: Great meatloaf that leaves you satisfied.  Generous portions.  Great option compared to typical downtown food. Good value for a $7 special.
Cons: None

Todd’s review of the Chicken Cordon Bleu:

Argentelle Cafe - Chicken Cordon BleuSomething new to try!  I was excited when I saw the daily special email arrive in my inbox.

This dish in French is called “Poitrine de Poulet Cordon Bleu” which is stuffed chicken breast with ham and swiss cheese.  Things sound so much more gourmet when in French. :)  The Cordon Bleu is sliced into medallions and laid over brown rice and then drizzled over by a rich sauce to tie it all together.

When I got back to the office the first thing I noticed when I opened the container was the delightful aroma that came with the meal.  It was certainly inviting and left a good impression that had me positive to consume this meal.  Appearance was also nice and I was happy to see the chicken breast had been cut already.

The first bites are wonderful.  The brown rice, sauce and chicken all tie together very well.  The taste is distinct and different, especially when compared to typical lunch fare in the downtown area.  There were some flaws however…

After a dozen or so bites, the sauce seemed to take on a ‘little too salty’ characteristic and began to feel as if it was actually to rich.  Perhaps akin to a nice bowl of Alfredo sauce, where the first bites are divine, but after a whole bowl it makes for a meal that is too rich.  What’s funny is I really enjoyed the first half of the meal, but it did get too rich toward the end.  The sauce needs a little toning down to make for a complete meal.

I’d be willing to try it again, but I would want to see the sauce smooth out and be a little more subtle.  With that change in place this would be a go-to winner, and I would likely score it in the high 80’s, but for now…

Todd’s Score: 70/100
Pros: Nice break from the usual, the brown rice is a nice touch, presentation is great, good proportions, good deal for $7
Cons: Sauce overpowered the meal half way through eating it (too salty/too rich) 

Todd’s review of the Stir Fried Chicken:

Argentelle Cafe - Stir Fried ChickenLately Chef Remy seems to be experimenting by releasing new specials.  Today he sent out an email blast advertising a new one called “Stir Fried Chicken” with chicken – zucchini – carrots and rice for $7.

What I pictured in my head for the meal was a little different than what I got when I got back to the office.  The portions are decent and the sauce has a nice consistency and color.

The first few bites were good and I was getting excited that there wasthing a bit different to try, and fro the look of things it seemed to be relativly healthy.  The chicken is white meat and looks to have been marinated.  The veggies were a little scarce as they were more small strips of carrots than large pieces.  The zucchini was present in the form of a few larger strips.  The rice seems to be a whole grain variety adding a bit of extra flavor as well.

The problem with the dish is that it got salty about half way through.  It was a bit over seasoned and slowly grows as you consume the dish.  While there was quite a bit of chicken in the dish, I would have liked to have seen a  little more of the veggies that were advertised.  There was also a little oil left in the bottom of the3 container when I finished my lunch, making me wonder how healthy it actually was.

This dish has some promise, but it needs a little adjusting for a better score.

Todd’s score:  75/100
Pros: lots of chicken in dish, whole grain rice
Cons:too salty, sort of gets a little blah after awhile

Argentelle Cafe - Chef Remy Argentelle Cafe - inside the restaurant Argentelle Cafe - Todd with the carry out Argentelle Cafe - Chicken Breast Saute with Sauce & Mushroom

YOLO Restaurant Review

Category : American, Salads, Sandwiches

Yolo - view from outsideIf downtown Fort Lauderdale had a flag signaling the center and heart of the city, a restaurant named YOLO would have that flag on its property.  Perhaps the best view around, YOLO is nestled in between the largest high rises and office buildings around in what makes up a small promenade for Fort Lauderdale, right on Las Olas Boulevard.

You only live once, right?  Well that’s what YOLO stands for, and they certainly deliver the experience in what is one of downtown’s most exclusive hot-spot hangouts.  Whether you are here for lunch, dinner or a fun evening with friends, this is the place to be.

TasteCritics Todd and Brandon venture to the local eatery for lunch and enjoy a beautiful view of downtown on a hot Florida day.  Passing Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s in the parking lot we wait for a table as Wayne Huizenga gets seated right before we do.  The clientèle is certainly the executives of the city as its business suits, shirts and ties everywhere you look.

Pricing for lunch is quite good considering the excellent ambiance, views of the city and fancy menu selections.  Getting seated at noon is no problem at all, but if you come 20 minutes after noon practically every table was taken.

Todd’s review of the Prime Rib Sandwich:

Yolo - Prime Rib SandwichWhile a little pricey ($16.50), the Prime Rib sandwich sort of jumped off the menu as something tasty.  The waitress gave it accolades as well, so I figured what the heck.

The menu says that the Prime Rib is served on a Garlic Toasted Ciabatta, with melted swiss and caramelized onions, served with thin cut fries.   When it arrived, it was served with a side of au jus sauce.

The Prime Rib is sliced and extremely tender and juicy, cooked perfectly.  The sandwich was abundant with caramelized onions which added a unique sweetness.  A nice amount of warm melted swiss cheese fused the sandwich together to make for a spectacular meal.  The Ciabatta bread made for the perfect compliment accessory since it was soft and thin.  All in all, the sandwich shined as a winner.

The fries were thin shoestring style which is not my favorite presentation for french fries.  It feels like you have to work to hard to get a good amount in your hands.  Also, the au jus sauce was a little on the weak side.  Had it been more robust and seasoned, it would have made for an all-star combination.  While excellent, there is one other Prime Rib Sandwich that scored a higher score, and that’s one from The Cove Restaurant in Deerfield Beach.

This meal is a dinner in a lunches clothing.  You could easily feed two people with the generous portions this meal provides.  Top it off with quality and a killer downtown view, and you’ve got a wonderful lunch that will satisfy all.  I can see why the executives flock to YOLO… to guarantee an experience, not just a lunch.

Todd’s score: 90/100
Pros: Excellent sandwich that is tender and juicy, large portions, killer downtown views, great ambiance
Cons: A little pricey ($16.50), but not bad considering the pros.

Yolo - Outdoor Fire-pit and cocktail lounge Yolo - indoor dining is elegant and classy Yolo - intimate outdoor seating with day-night tiki torches Yolo - even the bathroom kicks butt!

Big City Tavern Review

Category : American, Pizza, Salads, Sandwiches

Big City Tavern - view from Las Olas BlvdBig City Tavern is one of dozens of restaurants lining the street of Las Olas Boulevard, just east of downtown Fort Lauderdale.  If you are visiting Fort Lauderdale and looking for a hotspot, this stretch of Las Olas Blvd would be one of the places you’d want to visit.  Exquisite shops and restaurants to match, Big City Tavern seems to fit right in.

For this review we stop by at lunch time during a perfect Florida day.  Looking for a seat with a view and great food is the mission.  Walking up to the restaurant you can see about a dozen tables that are technically outside, but under a canopy.  There door walls are open allowing the indoor tables to get a feel of the outside.  This reminds me of Little Italy in New York. :)

Pricing is a notch higher than typical restaurant in the area, but it fits right in for the restaurants in this particular stretch of Las Olas Blvd.  Most dishes start around $10 and go up.  Aesthetically, the restaurant is very pleasing with rich detail and warm colors.

Todd’s review of the Sirloin Gorgonzola Burger with Ceasar Salad

Big City Tavern - Gorgonzola burger and ceasar saladBrowsing the menu I was delighted to see a nice mix of entrees with several unique sounding items to try.  There was a bunch of pizza, salad and other specialty dishes, but me being me… I was in the mood for a mans lunch, so I chose the Sirloin Gorgonzola Burger.  It comes with a Caesar salad and burger condiments for $12.

When it arrived at the table it did look unique.  It is served open faced and the burger looks quite large.  It was literally the size of a tube of socks rolled up.  I wondered why it was this shape; but after cutting into it it was obvious.  The burger was rolled into this shape with the Gorgonzola cheese trapped on the inside prior to cooking.  It’s like a beef twinky, with Gorgonzola cheese instead of frosting.

It really is quite delicious.  The warm Gorgonzola cheese was smooth and rich and complimented the burger very well.  Though it came with onion, tomato and lettuce, this ‘burger’ didn’t need anything other than a knife and fork (and a little ketchup).  The Caesar salad however was a little lacking.  It seemed as if little effort went into this.  The salad was very light on dressing and therefor lacked flavor.  Perhaps 4 or 5 croutons were in included, otherwise it would almost literally be a handful of lettuce .  Perhaps ask for dressing on the side so you can add more to kick up the taste.

While the food scored some points, the service was lacking.  Our waiter forgot to give us silverware (when the food arrived we had to lean over to another table and get it ourselves), forgot that Brandon ordered a coke (never brough it) and had to be visually queued to refill our drinks.  I saw the owner/manager making his rounds to various tables to see how things were going, but ironically, he skipped “the reviewers” table twice, even after I made direct eye contact with him, inviting him to ask.  I find this amusing because here I am reviewing the restaurant and he just walks on by.  It was a nice touch though for the majority of patrons he did stop to greet.

The Big City Tavern has a executive/snooty feel to it with most of the people dining in being men in shirts and ties.  The view of Las Olas was excellent and the restaurant as a whole has a upper class feel and high end decorated look.  With several dished coming in between $10 and $15 I can recommend this place for a treat.

Todd’s score: 86/100
Pros:
Burger itself was delicious, very unique and of good size.  Ambiance was great. Nice outdoor seating options.
Cons: Ceasar salad was ho hum and the service was severely lacking. Some items on menu are expensive.

Brandon’s review of the Grilled Chicken Baguette with Mozzarella, Romesco Sauce and Fries

Big City Tavern - chicken sandwichI’ve eaten at Big City Tavern many times in the past but usually I order the special (generally a salmon dish) which is always very good. This time I decided to try something and went with the grilled chicken baguette with mozzarella and romesco sauce. I think it was the romesco sauce that piqued my curiosity – I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but that was quickly rectified by a quick search on Wikipedia via my iPhone. For those of you also unfamiliar with Romesco sauce, here is the description straight from Wikipedia:  “Romesco is a sauce originating in Tarragona, Catalonia, that is typically made from almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and nyores – a smaller, sweet, dried variety of red bell pepper. Other common ingredients include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onion.”

When delivered, the sandwich looked quite appetizing and by the time it arrived I was quite hungry.  In general I am burnt out on sandwiches since that seems to be a frequently purchased item by myself and Todd given all the sandwich places in the Fort Lauderdale area. However I must say that this sandwich was quite delicious. It was a bit different given the Romesco and large, thick slices of mozzarella cheese. The chicken was grilled to perfection and it was all tied together nicely on a flavorful baguette. It took me a few bites to realize how much I was actually enjoying the sandwich and it wasn’t long before I had polished off the entire thing.

The accompanying french fries were also quite good (though not as good as those at Argentelle Cafe).  All in all it was a delicious lunch and I can’t really think of anything negative other than the subpar service as Todd described earlier.  Regardless, I will be here again and I will definitely be ordering up this sandwich!

Brandon’s score: 89/100
Pros:
Different but delicious chicken sandwich; Overall meal was very satisfying and atmosphere was quite pleasant.
Cons: Price is a bit high (compared to what we are used to) and service could have been better.

Big City Tavern - menu and a nice shadow of my iphone Big City Tavern - indoor seating with an outdoor view Big City Tavern - indoor dining area

Firehouse Subs Review

Category : Hoagies, Sandwiches, Subs

Firehouse Subs - view of the restarauntFirehouse is one of the fastest growing chains in the US, with locations popping up all over the place.  Residents of downtown Fort Lauderdale are about a 7 minute drive to the closest one, which is located in the Harbor Shops Plaza off of 17th street (west of the bridge).  Firehousesubs.com shows 3 Firehouse Subs within a stones throw of downtown, and 8 locations total in Broward County.

Parking is never a problem, but getting in and out of the plaza always requires just a little work due to the busy intersection on 17th street.

The restaurant is casual and has plenty of seating and even a couple tables outside.  Lively and colorful decoration give patrons the feeling they are at a mini Firehouse attraction.  They are also kid friendly as I see children getting free firehats when they come into Firehouse.

Todd’s review of the Firehouse Hero Sub

Firehouse Subs - Firehouse Hero SubFor a little under $8, you can get a ‘medium’ sized (8 inch) sub combo, which comes with a fountain drink and a bag of chips.  While bigger than a subway sub, its actually just a little smaller (or significantly smaller) than the other subs and hoagies we’ve reviewed recently.  Regardless of this, the combo makes for a satisfying meal that will fill you up.

What makes Firehouse subs unique is that their subs are served hot.  The meat is steamed prior to assembly and it makes for a different experience.  Subs are made “fully involved” which means complete with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and a dillpickle on the side.  As always, I have them hold the tomato.  The Hero sub is a 3-meat combo sub with roast beef, turkey and ham, topped with provolone cheese.  It’s a hearty sub with lots of great flavors going on!

For the best experience, I recommend eating in the restaurant (versus taking it back to the office).  Hot subs don’t seem to survive the trip back as well as some meals do.  They cool off and the bread can get a little soggy.  Eating it fresh however makes for a wonderful experience and this is where Firehouse Subs shines best.

Firehouse Subs - a sampling of the many hot sauces you can tryThe first few bites are always the best… everything is in its place and the meat is still plenty hot.  Browsing through their hot sauce collection and adding some kick to my subs adds some charisma to a (usually) boring sub eating experience.  Almost every sub I eat ends up spicy because I put a couple teaspoons of hot sauce on it.  I also like the large variety of hot sauces they have…  I see sauces here that I have never seen in stores before, so it makes it fun to experiment each time you visit.

With so many sandwich/sub/hoagie places to visit, it often makes for a difficult decision as to where to go, but Firehouse does carve a unique niche with their hot sauces and hot subs.  They are certainly better than subway and Quizno’s, and they offer a different taste than some of the other highly rated places like Laspada’s and Jimmy Johns.

Todd’s score: 84/100
Pros: great hot sub when eaten fresh at restaurant, decent value, awesome hot sauces to choose from
Cons: subs don’t travel so well

Firehouse Subs - view from the inside Firehouse Subs - decorated like a firehouse with real equipment

Daily Squeeze Review

Category : Fruit Smoothy, Healthy, Organic, Sandwiches, Soup

Daily Squeeze - restaurant viewThe Daily Squeeze is one of a handful of restaurants peppered in a relatively small plaza off of 2nd avenue, near the library and the City Park parking garage in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Like other lunch eateries here, quick parking can be an issue, since there are only  handful of metered spots available.  There is a parking garage nearby however if you don’t mind the extra work.

Seating consists of only a few plastic picnic tables located directly outside.  Indoors is sparse and function only.

The Daily Squeeze has made a niche for themselves by offering organic and healthy options, mainly in the form of sandwiches, soups and fruit smoothies.  I’ve heard the folks making the sandwiches refer to the bread as “the worlds healthiest bread”… yet it looks like Arnolds whole grain.  It does make for a hearty and tasty sandwich though.

Pricing is simple, but perplexing.  A flat rate of $10 gets you a sandwich with your choice of toppings, cup of soup or bag of chips and beverage or fruit smoothie.  There is no real bad choice, but I will add that I have seen 4 different prices for this lunch deal over the last two months. $6,$7, $8 and $10 (I missed the $9, or they skipped it).  What you get has stayed the same, but the pricing has been increasing lately.

Todd’s Review of the Tuna Salad sandwich and the chicken corn chowder soup

Daily Squeeze - Tuna Salad sandwich and chicken corn chowder soupWhen I visited the Daily Squeeze today it was drizzling rain and a bit cold outside, so foot traffic to this restaurant was slower than usual.  I was able to walk right up to the counter and make my order. There is a usual 2-3 minute wait on a typical sunny day.

I ordered their Tuna Salad sandwich and as with their other sandwiches, I get to choose my toppings which include some nice exotic choices like avocado, sprouts, dried cranberry, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and many more.  The only weak spot in their offerings is in the cheese… cheddar (which is strong in my opinion) or feta (which doesn’t go with everything).  It would be nice if they had swiss or provolone.  Regardless of this, these sandwiches carve a space for their own.  The toppings available are healthy, tasty and really make a difference.

Upon initial glance, the sandwich doesn’t look any bigger than something you’d make at home, but somehow it is different and its packed with ingredients.  After this lunch you’ll be stuffed.  Taste wise you’ll enjoy the things that make this sandwich unique, but when it comes down to it, I prefer a good hoagie roll (like Laspada’s or Jimmy John’s), but at least I know I am eating healthy.

Before diving into the sandwich I got a cup of their Chicken Corn Chowder in lei of a smoothie or chips/drink.  If I had to pick my favorite part of the meal, this is it.  This soup is dynamite and I could make it a meal in itself.  It’s rich, heavily seasoned and spicy.  One spoonful is packed with lots of visible spices and texture.  I highly recommend this soup.

To top it all off, they threw in a handful of blue berries and a single chocolate chip cookie.  By the time you eat it all, you are very satisfied and full.

I like that what they offer is organic and healthy and its a chance to get some rare vegetables into my diet that would usually be quite difficult for a typical lunch.  The pricing for the Daily Squeeze is a concern however, at $10 its just a lot to pay for a sandwich, even with the great soup and other sides.  I’ve seen them experiment with prices ranging from $6 to $10.  I’d say $7 perhaps $8 would be where their offerings are best suited, but if you must eat healthier, then perhaps the premium is worth it.

Todd’s Score: 76/100
Pros: Dynamite soup! Gourmet toppings, healthy/organic ingredients, good portions
Cons: $10 as it was priced today is just too much, it is a sandwich between 2 pieces of bread afterall

Daily Squeeze - making a sandwich

Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill Review

Category : American, Salads, Sandwiches

Offerdahls Cafe Grill - view from outsideOfferdahl’s Cafe Grill is located on the first floor plaza of a large office building on 5th avenue in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale.  There are 7 Offerdahl’s locations within 15 miles of  the downtown area.  For workers downtown however, it doesn’t get much easier than this to visit.

Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill has a unique menu of relatively healthy offerings including bagels (for breakfast) and lunch/dinner offerings including salads, sandwiches, soups and their signature entrees consisting of ‘chop bowls’ which are basically a chicken/salmon/beef diced on top of chopped veggies/rice/slaw.

The only parking available are a handful of metered spots along 5th avenue and some parking garages that are nearby.  Lunch pricing is a little higher than some of the local eateries, but their unique offerings help compensate for that.

Todd’s Review of the Ginger Thai Bowl with Grilled Salmon

Offerdahls Cafe Grill - Ginger Thai with SalmonIt seems as if there are a million sandwich shops in the area, so when I come to Offerdahl’s I get what makes them unique.  Their chop bowls entrees offer unique flavors and relatively guilt free eating because of all the fresh ingredients.

The Ginger Thai bowl comes with rice, diced cucumber, ginger slaw (which is great), scallions and peanuts.  It is then topped with just off the grill diced chicken.  You can however (at no extra charge) swap out the chicken for either beef or salmon.  They include a side container of Thai peanut dressing and a bread stick.

The photo above is of the ‘regular’ sized bowl which comes in at $8.99.  You can get a large bowl for only a dollar more, but in all honesty, the regular is plenty large for a single eater.  Paying the extra dollar will likely mean you have leftovers for tomorrow.

The meal itself is very good.  It is sort of difficult to find meals downtown that you could consider healthy, but this is one that falls in that category.  The Thai dressing ties together all the ingredients perfectly.  Normally I am not a big fan of coleslaw, but their ‘ginger slaw’ is one of the best parts of the meal.  It’s an American dish with a strong Thai influence.

You may want to ask for an extra container of sauce though.  The one they give you is just enough, and a little extra means you have something to dip that breadstick into.

Todd’s Score: 84/100
Pros:
Nice Healthy Option, Good taste, portions are about perfect for the regular size
Cons:$9.53 (after tax) is a little pricey for a lunch, orders are not always delivered quickly

Todd’s Review of the Spicy Shrimp Bowl:

Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill - Spicy Shrimp BowlOverpriced Garbage!

I’ve wondered when I would write a review when I found a meal I actually did NOT like, well that review is this review.

When I walked into Offerdahl’s today they had a big sign advertising this bowl.  The photo I took looks quite wonderful, as wonderful as the photo they took.   However, when it came time to eating it, things went downhill rapidly.

The sauce that came with it was more like a mild mustard than anything.  It was not spicy and it was just okay enough to make about 30% of the meal edible.  Once poured on top of the bowl I began to eat.  The bowl actually has a good mix of veggies including broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, rice and of course the shrimp.  The sauce did very little to add flavor to the meal though, and I found myself eating large mouthfuls of flavorless mass.  It reminded me of cows when they chew on hay bails. chew chew chew… but nothing of any importance.

The Ginger Thai bowl I review above is quite tasty, however this meal is a $9.53 mistake. Avoid it at all costs.  To add insult to injury, I had to ask for the bread stick.  For some reason, the free bread stick you are entitled to must be ASKED FOR in order to receive.  Kind of dumb.

Todd’s score: 42/100
Pros: The grilled shrimp was actually good
Cons: The sauce is horrible and the entire meal is flavorless.  My as well eat straw.  $9 for nothing.

Offerdahls Cafe Grill - dining area Offerdahls Cafe Grill - placing an order Offerdahls Cafe Grill - Menu Board

Laspada’s Original Hoagies Review

5

Category : Hoagies, Sandwiches, Subs

Laspadas Original Hoagies - Outside with limited seating

Laspadas Original Hoagies – Outside with limited seating

Laspada’s Original Hoagies rounds-up this week’s reviews.  While in Davie, Florida for a workshop I had about an hour to grab lunch.  Laspada’s had been recommended as a place to try…

Located in Davie in an (easy to miss) plaza off of University Drive (about a half mile south of 595), this restaurant is one of four locations in south Florida.  The other locations are in Lauderdale-by-the-sea, Coral Springs and a new spot in Boca Raton.

I can honestly say that getting a meal from Laspada’s has an element of an ‘event’ associated with it.  As I entered the restaurant there was a fairly long line, but after a couple minutes of observation it started to feel like I was waiting for a ride at Disney.  I spoke with one patron that said he made this his Friday lunch, every week.  People waiting to be served are entertained as the hoagie makers are slinging fresh cut meat through the air onto hoagie rolls.

Todd’s Review of the Buffalo Chicken Hoagie:

The Laspada's Buffalo Chicken Hoagie

The Laspada’s Buffalo Chicken Hoagie

Todd Reviews Laspada’s Buffalo Chicken Hoagie This review is an easy one. I basically picked one of my favorite dishes in the area to review and then tell you about all its great qualities.

Sub (Hoagie) Shops seem to be a dime a dozen. They all have the same basic formula… hoagie roll, sliced deli meat, veggie toppings, and condiments & voila, there’s your sub.

Having been a long time customer of Laspada’s, I was reluctant to try the Buffalo Chicken Hoagie for quite some time because quite frankly, the other hoagies I had tried were so good. They make a wonderful Turkey, Monster (Roast beef, ham and turkey), and even a great Italian hoagie. A chicken hoagie never seemed to scream out to me as one to try, until one day…

The Buffalo chicken they use is subtle. It’s very much like a carved chicken breast with just a hint of buffalo flavoring. It certainly does not overpower the other various flavors that are required to make this hoagie the best one in south Florida. That is quite a title, but until I find one better, this is what I eat at least once a week for the moment.

To make it just right, this is how I order it. I get a small (8 inch) Buffalo Chicken sub with:

  • Wheat hoagie roll
  • Light mayo and extra yellow mustard
  • A little ‘Hot Sauce’ added to the meat (Frank’s Red Hot)
  • Provolone cheese
  • Lettuce, onion and sweet peppers (very important)
  • Salt, pepper, oregano, oil, vinegar

The portions of the ingredients are flawless and the flavors of each ingredient listed above fuse together to create a harmonic bliss that lasts the entire way through the meal.

This “small” hoagie is plenty of food to fill you up too, for the typical appetite. Hungry man appetites are more than welcome to get their huge 12” hoagie for just a couple bucks more. If you want a little something more, they have a rare but delicious potato chip called Zapp’s Voodoo Chips that is worth the extra price.

This is a perfect meal in my opinion. Extremely tasty and it easily bests any sub in the area. If I am wrong, please contact me so I can review that better sub.

Todd’s Score: 97/100
Pros: Unique hoagie that happens to be the best tasting hoagie I know.  Wonderful flavor, good value, consistent perfection every time I order it.  Large and filling.
Cons: None. Honestly, if I could think of anything I would list it… lines can be long at the store perhaps?

Todd’s Review of the Italian Special:

Laspadas Original Hoagies - Italian sub, chips and a cokeI ordered my tried and true favorite sub, the “Italian special” which has the typical Boiled Ham, Genoa Salami, Italian Cappicola and Provolone Cheese. Each type of meat was cut fresh from blocks of quality meat as you order your food.  I added green peppers, lettuce, sweet and hot peppers with yellow mustard and mayo.

Laspada’s also carries a large number of chips you can get with your sub.  I got a 2 oz bag of ZAPP’S Spicy Creole Tomato Spiked with Tabasco, which I would highly recommend.  My 8″ hoagie, chips and large coke came to over $10, a little pricey but the amount of food that gets you will surprise you.  The chips and drink are typical, but this 8″ hoagie is no typical sandwich.

I was lucky to get a seat at one of their outdoor tables.  Upon opening my hoagie I was surprised at how large it actually was.  This has got to be the largest 8″ sub I have ever purchased.  The great news is the taste was there to match.  This was a dynamite Italian sub!  The meats were distinctly fresh and full of flavor.  Having them cut on the spot makes a huge difference… trust me.  The bread used to make the hoagie roll is moist and perfectly chewy.  It reminds me of bread that Jimmy John’s uses, but quite a bit larger.  When they make your sub and add all your toppings, they finish it my wrapping a slice of meat on top to help contain all the fixins and keep them in place.

Laspada’s really does deliver one of the best cold subs I’ve ever had, if not the best ever.  I say cold because as I was eating it I realized that I classify a hot sub and a cold sub as separate genres.  Somehow they satisfy in different ways.

Laspada’s top quality meat, toppings and enormous size absolutely will not disappoint.  I highly recommend Laspada’s and would even say it’s worth driving a few extra miles for this special treat.

Todd’s Score: 90/100
Pros:Tastes great, huge size, priced well considering how large the hoagie is.  Unique Chip options. Entertaining to watch them make your sub.
Cons: Very limited seating, not a lot of locations.

Laspadas Original Hoagies - Sign Laspadas Original Hoagies - Menu Laspadas Original Hoagies - Always a line for food Laspadas Original Hoagies - All meat is sliced fresh as you order Laspadas Original Hoagies - I'll take hot and sweet peppers please Laspadas Original Hoagies - 2 hoagies almost ready Laspadas Original Hoagies - Italian sub