Review No. 37: Subway
855 E Oak St.
21.9 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants
He Said: Jones got home from her Personal Trainer and was quite hungry (doesn’t that sound like a First World Problem), and threatened me with bodily harm if I did not get in the car right then and take her to lunch. Well, I’m pretty sure that anybody who goes to a personal trainer can do some damage to me if she wants to, so I capitulated and got in the car, driving to the Subway on Oak Street (it’s in the little strip mall across the street from Starbucks), which is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and we could get an early lunch there. There are three Subways in Conway, but this one is on our side of town.
She Said: I think I was at my physical therapist, not my trainer, which indicates I’m not at the top of my game, strength-wise, Ruud, so you are probably safe…for now. But I do get hangry mid-day, and I don’t like to wait around to go to lunch until everyone else is doing the same thing and you have to wait in line or for a table.
He Said: I’ve never found Subways as comfortable to eat in as some other fast food places. Even McDonald’s and Burger King are cozier, its always seemed to me. Subways tend to be small, and when you go at lunchtime there are usually lines that go back into the restaurant, and there is no real separation between the dining area and the lineup area. The seats are hard and the walls are decorated with four or five big close-up pictures of food—a sliced red onion, a green pepper, etc. Here there was also a TV in the corner, playing the cartoon network.
She Said: Yeah, I’m with you, Ruud. The décor is unremarkable across the brand, and the method of making your food in front of you means when you dine in, you always feel like you’re eating in the kitchen. But Subway restaurants are generally clean and bright, and this one is. I think this is the first time I haven’t gotten my food to go here, though!
He Said: Trying to cut back on soda, since neither the sodium, the sugar nor the sugar substitute is much good for me, I opted for a bottled lemonade, claiming to be non-GMO, low sodium and all kinds of other healthy things, at least some of which I hope was true. It was as fine tasting as bottled lemonade could be.
She Said: I recently learned how to order a bottle of lemonade in French from my French-lesson podcast, Coffee Break French! Je voudrais… But I don’t think they speak French here, so I ordered my iced tea in English. It was tasty!
He Said: Subway has a reputation as the healthy choice among the major fast food chains. In fact, on average it is really no healthier than McDonald’s. There are, however, more healthy choices that you can make at Subway, so you can eat healthier here if you are careful. They also post the calories for each sandwich on their wall menu, which is helpful. I opted for the 6-inch turkey breast on multi-grain bread sub. This is officially 330 calories and contains only 4 grams of fat. However, this is mainly because I picked the fat-free honey mustard condiment to go with it. Had I picked mayonnaise, I would have been eating 440 calories and 16 grams of fat. So be careful what you put on the sandwich. Had I ordered the chicken and bacon ranch melt, however, I’d have had 610 calories and 30 grams of fat, and that’s before condiments. So if you really are looking for a healthy option, you might want to check Subway’s posted online menu before stopping in.
The turkey sandwich with the lettuce tomatoes, pickles and banana peppers I had on it, was fresh and satisfying, and the bread was much tastier than a plain, white bun. The honey mustard sauce makes for a tangy sweet addition, without tipping you over into the fast-food calorie binge. Since we were doing a review, I thought it advisable to order a few other things, so I tried a cup of the broccoli cheddar soup (170 calories, 9 grams of fat). It was cheesy and flavorful, though maybe a little thin. Still, it would make a good-tasting lunch in itself if you were not especially hungry. Of course, I also added what I believe to be Subway’s main attraction: the large chocolate chip cookie. A chocolate chip cookie adds another 200 calories and 10 grams of fat, but if you can squeeze it in, treat yourself to the deliciousness that is the glorious Subway Chocolate Chip.
All told, my meal came to something like 800 calories. That didn’t leave me much for the rest of the day, but I suffer for your sake, dear readers, to bring you all the truth about these places we review. Besides, I had still only had 23 total grams of fat, which is what I really have to watch. This gave me plenty of leeway for light supper later on.
She Said: I had been looking forward to this carbfest for a long time, and I knew that I was definitely getting baked Lays chips (sour cream and onion!) and a cookie (white chocolate macademia nut!), but the minutia of specifically what kind of sandwich was up in the air when I strolled in. As I scanned the menu (more on that below), I saw the Veggie Delite and went for it with the multi-grain bun, toasted, s’il vous plait! I chose white cheese, spinach, cucumbers, red onions and mayonnaise (don’t tell Ruud!) for my toppings. Sometimes, some Subway stores have avocado as well, but this one didn’t, so I had to let that go, though I would have preferred that to the mayo. It was very tasty, a kind of salad on toast, or an elaborate cheese sandwich. After you read the Service section you’ll see why I chalk this one up to "live and learn." But even with a small, healthy dinner and this handheld salad, I still gained almost a pound from the bread and chips and cookie. Oh well, those cookies are amazing!
He Said: Well, you know it’s a fast-food place where you go down a kind of assembly line and tell the folks behind the bar just what to put on your sandwich. Subway more or less invented this kind of service, as far as I know, since I don’t remember seeing it other places until Subway opened and did it first. Well, I suppose Henry Ford pretty much invented it, but the stuff at Subway tastes better. They were friendly and helpful, happily answering my questions about the fat content of different dressings available, and they got us through the line quite quickly. Jones got a bit of a surprise, though, which I’m sure she’ll be telling you about:
She Said: Before we get to my "surprise," I’d like to ask a question: Why are fast-food menus so freaking confusing?! If there is a flat list of "sandwiches" it’s never immediately apparent, and unless you go somewhere a lot, you probably won’t know all they really have on offer. What they usually hit you with is all the combos (Sonic is especially awful in this way), so that all you get to know is that if you get the fried-chicken sandwich, you get these things with it. I want a proper a la carte menu so I can put together exactly what I want. Why is that so difficult?!
Now, with my Ruud-style rant out of the way, my "surprise" was that I thought ordering the "Veggie Delite" sandwich meant that I was ordering the "Veggie Patty," but it did not. You have to order the veggie patty explicitly, which costs slightly more and is listed on a weird part of the menu called "Local Favorites," or something like that. But the giant menu of sandwich options doesn’t say anything about stipulating this. (It also doesn’t list the seafood salad, which can also be found in "Local Favorites.") I would like to emphasize that when I got my salad on a bun and went up to ask the Sandwich Artist about the veggie patty, she apologized profusely and sincerely that she didn’t make this clear to me, but honestly, I don’t think it was her fault; it’s the menu’s fault. They were all very helpful with our questions and friendly with every aspect of our visit.
What We Got and What We Paid: One six-inch veggie delete sub, one 21 ounce iced tea, one bag of baked sour cream and onion potato chips, one six-inch turkey breast sub, one cup of broccoli cheese soup, one bottled lemonade and two cookies for $17.23.
He Said: I personally will go with Subway over most fast food. A healthier lunch is not guaranteed here, but you can have one if you are careful in your choices. And watch the condiments!
She Said: I’ll be back, and next time I’ll say I want the veggie patty on my veggie delite! And I will ALWAYS save room for a cookie!
So…He Said and She Said: Careful lunchers welcomed here with a friendly staff and healthy and not-so-healthy options, all tasty.
Editor's Note: Eat It, Conway is produced by local author Jay Ruud and his wife (poet and novelist Stacey Margaret Jones). The couple has begun an attempt to eat at and review, every restaurant in Conway, Arkansas. The Log Cabin Democrat and thecabin.net are publishing Eat It, Conway with permission from the authors. Visit them online at jayruud.com and on Facebook at Eat It, Conway. In addition to restaurant reviews, Ruud authors movie reviews on the site.