This week, I reached out for a new Pit-Smoked Brisket Sandwich from that celebrated BBQ master chef, Subway, with 26,000 restaurants across the U.S. and 15,000 more beyond our borders. Remember to bring your passport.
Right from the get-go, this sounds like an awful idea, especially in Texas, where barbecue is practically a religion, with duels at high noon over which BBQ joints serve the most authentic brisket.
Subway selling brisket sandwiches in Texas is like opening a Dominos in Little Italy in New York. But you know something, there is a Dominos down the street from Lombardi's Coal Oven Pizzeria on Spring Street in Manhattan — and the Dominos does pretty good business. Weird. I mean, why would you? So let's give Subway's shot at pit barbecue a fair shot.
Here is Subway's Pit-Smoked Brisket Sandwich breakdown: three ounces of sliced Texas-style brisket, melty smoked Cheddar cheese, and tangy sauce on an Italian sub roll. Very simple. Subway showed restraint by not Subway'ing it up with lettuce and tomatoes and whatever.
Total calories: 510. Fat grams: 28. Sodium: 1,090 mg. Carbs: 41 g. Dietary fiber: 2 g. Protein: 24 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $5.99-$6.99. The footlong has six ounces of meat, double the nutritional numbers, and runs between $8.99 and $10.99. If you have a Subway coupon for discount footlongs, it won't apply to the Pit-Smoked Brisket sandwich. Pay the full boat.
There are two ways of considering Subway's Pit-Smoked Brisket Sandwich: on its own merits or compared to a real-deal barbecue joint that's been smoking meat in Texas for years. Subway says it hired famous pitmasters to create the recipe for its brisket, which is smoked at least 13 hours.
Subway even opened a fake barbecue shack in Austin, a true barbecue mecca, and let customers sample its brisket sandwich. According to Subway, Austinites raved, and if a brisket sandwich can make it in Austin, it can make it anywhere. Sort of like that "New York, New York" song.
On the other hand, okay, Subway's brisket is smoked 13 hours, but where and when? When you visit a Houston barbecue spot, you can smell the meats being smoked since yesterday out back, and they slice the brisket right in front of you. That's kind of important.
When you find a barbecue place you like, you stick with it for a long, long time. Sometimes till death do you part. Sadly, you can't take it with you.
Subway's Pit-Smoked Brisket Sandwich is like that plant-based imitation meat. If you didn't know, you probably couldn't tell. But the sign outside says Subway, and despite Subway's slogan "Eat Fresh," the brisket comes from afar, and you don't know when.
My chief concern is, Subway's brisket sandwich isn't exactly a bargain, even compared to our most elite barbecue restaurants.
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know on Twitter.