Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Sandwich Spot

Every once in a while, I get a serious craving for classic macaroni salad.  I'm talking the stuff that is mostly just mayonnaise.  Not aioli.  Probably not housemade.  It can come from a grocery store for all I care.  It can have a scary long shelflife.  Sometimes, I just really, really want macaroni salad.

I've been trying macaroni salad all over San Francisco, and have a list of places to try sitting on the back burner for when a macaroni salad craving hits.

The craving hit today.  And luckily for me, I had just seen a promotion in the Paypal app for The Sandwich Spot, offering up $5 of credit.  And, they were on my macaroni salad list.

Thus I headed there to check it out.  The place was bustling.  A longish line of patient people ordering sandwiches.  I'm not into sandwiches at all, but The Sandwich Spot gets really great reviews for their sandwiches, and they did look pretty good.  But I was there for one thing only: the macaroni salad.

I joined the line, and pulled up the Paypal app to check in (which is how you pay sooo easily).  Except, The Sandwich Spot did not show up!  Their other locations did, but not the one I was at.  There were signs everywhere saying you could pay with Paypal, and I knew I'd just seen it in the app the day before.  So I went to the register to ask about it.  The guy assured me that they do take Paypal, it just wasn't turned on.  By the time I got through the line, it would be ready.

So, I re-joined the line.  Waited, waited, waited while everyone's sandwiches were customized and toasted.  It occurs to me now that I probably could have just asked the cashier for the macaroni salad since it was already pre-scooped into containers, and the person who eventually took my order just grabbed it from the fridge behind the counter.  Next time.

When I got to the register ... they still weren't listed in Paypal, and the cashier who had told me it would be ok was no where in sight.  The guy ringing me up seemed lost, and I told him that the previous person said it just wasn't on.  He had no idea how to turn it on, and found the original guy, who came and turned it on.  I was able to check in.  But, then, my new cashier had no idea how to ring me up.  It was certainly a confusing experience, not as seamless as all of the other times I've used Paypal.  I have remarked about how much better Paypal works than any other mobile payment systems, but this was a bit of an outlier.  I can't blame Paypal, but having the staff not trained to use it definitely makes it harder.

Anyway. The Sandwich Spot is a bustling little shop, with a few seats at counters along the window, small tables with plastic chairs out on the sidewalk (sadly, not in the sun), and a constant line of people.  They sell mostly sandwiches, along with a huge selection of chips (seriously, like every brand imaginable, with seriously imaginative flavors), and a few salads.

They also have a single dessert: chocolate chip cookies.  I'm not a huge cookie person, but while I was standing there waiting for so long, the cookies were staring at me, so I had to try one of those too.

Overall, my food was fine, but not remarkable, and I'd consider going back, but I'm in no rush.

Update: And, I did go back to get the potato salad.  Again, the place was crazy busy.  If I liked sandwiches, I'd be really tempted to try them, since it was soooo bustling!  I used Paypal again, and this time it worked like a charm. And, protip, if you just wants drinks/chips/salads, you can skip the crazy long line!
Macaroni Salad.  $2.49.
The macaroni salad wasn't actually "macaroni", but rather little tiny tubes.  This seems to be a theme around here these days!  Both A.G. Ferrari and Deli & ... used the same shape.  Dressing seems to get into tubes better than traditional curved macaroni, so this seems like a smart move.

The pasta was nicely cooked, not mushy, not underdone.  There was also some shredded carrot, but no other vegetables or egg.  There was a bit of seasoning in the mayo-based dressing, and it was nicely dressed, not overdone, but still creamy.  It was topped with a generous sprinkling of black pepper, which I appreciated.

But overall, not much flavor.  It was certainly better than the crazy overdressed A.G. Ferrari version, but the veggies were less remarkable than the Deli & ... one.  My favorite so far is still from Fountain Cafe.

At $2.49 it was a fine price, and once I brought it home and added my mom's zucchini relish to it, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I probably wouldn't get it again though.

[ Update: Except, I was the neighborhood and craving macaroni salad, so I did indeed try it again.  I felt the same way about it.  Decently executed, but there just wasn't much flavor, and it clearly needed my zucchini relish added to it. ]
Potato Salad. $2.49.
I opened my container of potato salad with glee - it was topped with bacon!  Everything is better with bacon, right?

The potato salad was very creamy, perhaps overdressed, but it didn't seem too mayo-y actually.  Perhaps there was sour cream in there too?  The red skin potatoes were included with their skin still on, decently cooked, not too mushy, not underdone, although I do prefer mine a little bit more al dente.  There wasn't any egg or veggies in the mix, although there were visible herbs.  And obviously the bacon on top.

Overall, it was fine, had a bit of tang, and I liked the bacon, but it wasn't the most exciting potato salad out there.  Price was great for a container of its size.

I brought half of it home, and just like the macaroni salad, I added my mom's zucchini relish to it to jazz it up.  I liked it more this way, particularly when served alongside some of her homemade pickles too!  Seriously, that zucchini relish is quickly becoming my favorite condiment, it has so many uses!
Chocolate Chip Cookie.  $2.50.
As I said, I'm not a huge cookie person.  Desserts? Yes.  But cookies are never really what I'd pick.  I did have a bit of a sweets craving though, and this was their only dessert option.

While waiting for Paypal to be turned on, I asked the cashier if the cookies were as good as they looked.  He assured me they were, saying he'd eat one every day if he could.  Another employee said he'd baked them fresh that morning, and that yes, they were amazing.

They were a very large size and looked quite soft, which is how I like my cookies, if I'm going to have a cookie.  So, I went for it.

It was an ok cookie.  Yes, it was soft, although still fully cooked.  Plentiful chocolate chips.  A pretty classic cookie.  But nothing remarkable.  I would have preferred a more interesting flavor, more buttery, or more sugary, or ... something.

$2.50 seems a bit pricey for a cookie.  Ok, it seems really pricey for a cookie, particularly from a sandwich shop.   I know that not everywhere is Quiznos offering cookies for $1.50.  And it was a huge cookie, but when you compare to the $0.75 also large version from a real bakery like Thorough Bread and Pastry, or the fancier $1.50 brown butter version from Back Yard Kitchen, another sandwich shop, The Sandwich Spot price just seems high.
The Sandwich Spot on Urbanspoon
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