I Tried The Quiznos Brisket Sandwich, and It Was Nothing Like What I'd Expected
Barbecue, as any opinionated Southerner will gladly remind you, is not meat cooked on a grill. (That's a cookout!) It also isn't the sauce. Yes, barbecue sauce plays a part, but it's really denoting any kind of meat cooked low and slow. But today, barbecue is mostly associated with a very specific kind of sauce: Kansas City-style barbecue sauce.
Its popularity isn't a mystery: It's very sugary. Like thick teriyaki sauce, honey mustard, and ketchup, the balance of sweet and savory (though when it's mass-produced, it tends to lean toward sweet) has mass appeal. And while barbecue snobs will dismiss it for the way the thick sauce can mask the complex flavors of slow-cooked meats, I still think it has its place on decidedly non-barbecued things like nuggets or sandwiches.
Quiznos just released their limited-time-only pit-smoked brisket sub, which they bill as being filled with brisket that's been smoked for 13 hours, all topped with cheddar, pickles, red onions, and a sweet 'n smoky BBQ sauce. You can only get it until October 21, so I headed to my nearest Quiznos and decided to give the smoky sub a try.
What I thought about the Quiznos Pit-Smoked Brisket Sub
In the new Quizno's pit-smoked brisket sandwich, the dangers of Kansas City-style sauce liberally applied become all too evident. There, it tops their smoked brisket in such globs and goops that any other flavor immediately disappears until you're left with a tongue-coating sugariness that dulls all other sensations. If you've ever wondered what it is like to be able to chew a sauce, this will give you a pretty close approximation.
It was pretty saucy
The sauce, to begin with, was actually not that bad. While most chain barbecue sauces lean heavily on the side of sweet, this had enough of a tang to make it interesting. The problem was that the sandwich was built with so much of the sauce. The bread was toasted with a hearty squirt of sauce, and the meat was topped off with it, too, before being heated up. The result was that by the end of my sandwich, the bread was so soaked through in sauce it had turned into a sauce sponge, and any of the subtlety of the first taste had totally disappeared. It also obscured any other flavors in the rest of the sandwich, which is a shame, because they weren't all that bad.
The meat was mediocre
Don't get me wrong: this isn't the smoked brisket people in Texas write love songs about. This is where true barbecue purists would gnash their teeth because what is a Texas-style cut of barbecue doing covered in cheese and a very non-Texas sauce? And maybe this is where my hometown plays a role, because I am from a part of Tennessee with no real native barbecue tradition. Unlike my neighbors in the Carolinas, there is no style I will lay down my life for. I just want good meat, and meat that is good enough that it can shine on its own. This was not that, but it wasn't awful, either. Or at least, it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, considering the source.
Thinly sliced, it lacks the delicious char and falling-apart, juicy texture of the real thing. But I was at Quiznos, not Franklin BBQ, and it seems a bit naive to expect true Texas smoked meats at a sandwich chain. Instead, I appreciated that it had at least a nice amount of chewiness and flavor, compared to the plainer sliced meat at most chain sandwich places. You could at least tell it had been smoked, if not particularly artfully so. The inclusion of pickles and onions also added a nice brightness that I enjoyed in the first few bites. The cheese, unfortunately, was never given a fighting chance. The creaminess was way too subtle against the onslaught of other flavors.
This leads to the question: Would I get this again if I knew to ask for a much lighter hand on the sauce? Maybe, if for some reason I was trapped in a Quiznos. But even if the brisket itself wasn't so bad, the ratio of filling to bread is pretty weak. You're much better off getting something you can stuff with actual toppings, not a sprinkling of onion and pickles. But, by the same token, it's hard to imagine wanting to pile things like lettuce or tomato on a barbecue-style sandwich. All in all, this sandwich is an easy skip.