$29 & Under: Mr. Subb Bistro offers healthful alternative to fast food

In tony Newton Plaza on Route 9, you’ll find the new Mr. Subb Bistro rubbing shoulders with fancy re
PHOTOGRAPHER:

In tony Newton Plaza on Route 9, you’ll find the new Mr. Subb Bistro rubbing shoulders with fancy restaurants like Milano. It’s Mr. Subb, all right, but he’s gone upscale. And why not? It’s a bright and airy restaurant that boasts a patio with tables and market umbrellas and a comfortable dining room. You can still get your favorite sub, or try something new.

Mr. Subb Bistro

WHERE: 602 New Loudon Road (Newton Plaza). Phone 690-0450, fax 690-0451.

WHEN: Monday to Thursday 9 a. m. to 9 p. m.; Friday and Saturday 9 a. m. to 10 p. m.; Sunday 11 a. m. to 9 p. m.

HOW MUCH: $16.50

MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover, Siena College meal plan card Wheelchair accessible. Wifi available.

Latham-based Mr. Subb Inc. President Bill Pompa decided to try something different with this location, which opened in August. “I’ve been in this business since 1971, so it’s in my blood,” he said.

“I’m a bug about ripe tomatoes,” he said, commenting on the quality of the ingredients. “We choose them for ripeness and, unlike most fast food restaurants, we shred our own lettuce.”

It’s not exactly Monsieur Subb, but they’ve made an effort to create a pleasant environment. I like that the sales counter is out of sight of the dining room. You’ll find metal chairs and formica tables, but the chairs are padded and there are trendy high tables in the front plate-glass windows in the dining room.

New offerings

At the counter, it still feels like fast food. The young woman who took our order helped us sort through the choices. She made the distinction between Mr. Subb and the Bistro: “We have several soups, grilled panini sandwiches, and hot subs here.” They’re not all available at other Mr. Subb stores, she told us.

So companion Virginia and I tried some of the new stuff, and it was good. While we waited, the helpful cashier served up our star-shaped potato nuggets ($1.69), which were hot and crisp and pretty tasty. We took our sodas to our table, and in just a few minutes our hot food was brought out. “Do you need anything else?” we were asked. Just like in a real restaurant.

Mr. Subb Bistro has hot panini sandwiches in combinations you might not expect, such as provolone and pesto ($4.75), and turkey, cheddar and bacon. I had a chicken Cordon Bleu ($5.29) sandwich. The bread is crunchy, ribbed and toasted, and filled with fried chicken fingers, ham and melted cheese. It was pleasantly warm, and the cheese stretched between the two halves of the bread when I pulled them apart.

I could have lived without the bleu cheese dressing that dripped from the sandwich, but the bread was crispy, the ham was pleasantly salty and there was enough melted cheese to be satisfying. Thumbs up from me, and from Virginia, who took the other half for lunch the next day. She liked the dressing.

Virginia was pleased with how much meat was packed in the mini steak sandwich with peppers and onions ($3.99) she had ordered. “It’s sliced very thin,” she said, showing it to me. The vegetables were sauteed and soft. “I can’t imagine ordering one with double meat,” ($1.50 extra) she added.

The chicken noodle soup ($2.69) was so hot I put it aside until my sandwich was done, and it was still pleasantly warm. It’s quite good — a tasty broth that doesn’t rely on salt for flavor, full of ruffly noodles, vegetables and lots of pieces of chicken. The carrots and celery and firm noodles made it taste very fresh.

Soup and salads

You can get a healthy, satisfying meal at Mr. Subb Bistro, too. There were four soups on offer that day, and we were impressed with the variety. Mr. Subb Bistro offers nine meal-sized salads, too.

We finished up with cookies ($.89 each), that were soft but not raw, in fact, cooked just right. I liked the crisp edge of the sugar cookie, and Virginia enjoyed the triple chocolate chip, a dark brown cookie with chunks of white and brown chocolate.

The tab for the meal came to $16.50. Examining the receipt later, I noticed that the register automatically found discounts even though we’d ordered from all over the menu, and we were charged the lower prices for our meals. Pompa said the software is designed to do that.

“We’re lucky that we’ve been around as long as we have,” he said, “but it’s gotten more challenging.” I would return to Mr. Subb Bistro, especially for the healthier choices, and definitely in the winter for hot soup. The prices are reasonable, the restaurant is pleasant and clean, and I know I am supporting a local business.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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