Today I decided to go to Mr. Pickles for an early dinner. They have two locations in Roseville, one in the Bel Air shopping center at Cirby/Sunrise and one in the Famly Fitness shopping center at Foothills/Junction. I went to the Foothills location for no other reason than I forgot about the other one at the time. I’m sure you’ve seen the guy in a pickle suit on corners with Mr. Pickles in the Sacramento area, there seem to be a fairly large number of these little sandwich shops.
From what I’ve been told, the main corporation will set up a shop and then turn it over to be locally owned and operated. Each store, while still very clearly a Mr. Pickle’s, then takes on it’s own distinct personality. I used to try to go to the one in Roseville Square but was thwarted by bizarre hours. Eventually I managed to catch them while they were open once or twice. Service-wise they left a lot to be desired. Obviously they did not survive. The one I frequent the most is in Rancho Cordova and is the largest one I’ve seen so far. I go at lunch and similar to Subway or Togos you work with an employee who builds your sandwich while you wait directly on the other side of the counter from them. The sandwiches are consistently excellent. They always have a good number of employees and everyone is always extremely nice. Of course, this post isn’t about the Rancho store, but that shop sets the bar for Mr. Pickles in my mind.
This Foothills location is way off to the side in a small strip of businesses between a Burger King and a KinderCare. It is a very small location, smaller even than the Roseville Square store was I think, and that one was pretty small. Inside there are four 4-person tables and outside are 2 smaller tables. Off to one side there is a rack with a “take a penny, leave a penny” sort of collection of books, magazines and DVDs. A sign taped to it reads “Help yourself to a book, DVD, magazine or video. If you have any laying around the house, bring them in and share with your neighbors.” An interesting idea, but it just kind of feels out of place here. It seems like something you would expect to see in a small coffee house.
Probably the oddest thing about this Mr. Pickles is the theme: Jim Carrey. Movie posters, photos, you name it. Even the sandwiches are named after Jim Carrey’s characters and lines, such as The Fire Marshall Bill (Chicken Breast, Teriyaki,and Melted Jack), The Alrighty Then (Chicken Breast, Bacon, Avocado and Jack) or the Harry and Lloyd (Ham, Salami, Pastrami, Provolone and Italian Dressing). The sandwich I went with was called the Jim Bob Ken, and this was one of a couple in which I actually didn’t know the reference. I did some Googling when I got home and I’m still not sure. If anyone knows what “Jim Bob Ken” has to do with Jim Carrey, let me know.
Anyway, when I arrived at around 4:30 there was one customer eating and watching the TV which was turned up a little loud. The single employee came out of the back a bit later with her arms full to restock the self-serve cooler (which has sodas, tea and macaroni/pasta/potato salads). In doing so she dropped one of the macaroni salads which spilled. I continued to study the menu while she cleaned it up. After reading just about the entire thing I finally found the one I was looking for, hot pastrami, avocado, cream cheese and “phat sauce,” whatever that is. I meant to ask but it slipped my mind. This is the sandwich I regularly order at the Rancho location. I get it on Dutch Crunch with mayo, mustard, garlic oil, lettuce and onions. Here, she took my order and said she would bring it out to me when it was ready. I paid, grabbed a can of Coke from the cooler and sat down near the front door.
The canned sodas were $1.50, which I thought was pretty steep. At $8 the sandwich seemed to be about in line with what I pay at Rancho, maybe about 50¢ more. She took a large order after mine and then got to work on the sandwiches. Total wait from payment to table was between 5 and 10 minutes. When it arrived it looked a little sad. The Dutch Crunch roll looked like it had been crushed and at first glance it seemed like a good portion of the sandwich was lettuce. There actually wasn’t quite that much lettuce, but some of the thicker white parts of the head of lettuce were taking up a good amount of room. The roll did not have it’s distinct crunch, but was instead rather soft. The flavor of the sandwich was still quite good. The pastrami was hot and juicy, and everything else seemed fresh and tasty.
The overall construction was somewhat poor however. Toppings were unevenly distributed. Some bites had a little of everything, and others were just cream cheese and some stray lettuce. To contrast, the sandwiches I get at Rancho are always very well constructed with even amounts of all ingredients in from one end to the other. In addition, their bread is always very fresh and crunchy. There was something about this one, perhaps the “phat” sauce, that was really good. I think it was just heavier garlic oil than Rancho uses though. I might ask for that next time I go there and see if it has the same effect.
Despite the taste being good, I wasn’t particularly impressed with this Mr. Pickles. The sandwich construction needed a lot of improvement, portions seemed a bit smaller than Rancho at a higher cost, the soda price was way too high, and the professional “feel” was lacking overall compared to Rancho. In addition, you get a chocolate chip cookie with your sandwich at the Rancho location (and it seems from many others, based on some reviews I skimmed over). Here there was no cookie :(. I think the Jim Carrey theme will be the most memorable thing of this visit.
Website (corporate): http://www.mrpicklesinc.com/
Foothills location specific menu: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12286/EatingThroughRoseville/Mr%20Pickles%20Menu.pdf