#246: Jimmy John’s

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Here’s a quickie for a chain spot.  I had actually never heard of Jimmy John’s until they showed up in Roseville.  They are located at the corner of Douglas and Rocky Ridge, right next to Papa Murphy’s.  From an r/Roseville discussion about it, I gathered that the subs are average at best and they pride themselves on speed.  This is basically what I encountered.

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The staff (which seemed huge for a deli on a Sunday at dinner time, they had at least 6 or 7 people) all were in a good mood and seemed to enjoy their work, which is great.  My sandwich, the #17 Ultimate Porker (Applewood smoked ham and bacon with lettuce, tomato & mayo)[$7.79] was ready as I was putting the lid on my soda.  It was decent.  I had added oil & vinegar, though I did not taste or notice it at all.  It might have helped out the slightly dry French roll if it were more apparent.  All the ingredients seemed fresh.

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I feel like this would be good in the <$6 range.  Over that and I have a hard time justifying it when we have such excellent options in Roseville as Better Foods Deli, Guy’s For Lunch, Mr. Subs, Mr. Pickles, Beach Hut and so on.

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#242: Cheese Louise

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This post has been a long, long time in the making.  I originally heard about Cheese Louise over two years ago, in a Sac Biz Journal article from March 2013.  It was not that long prior that Extreme Java Jungle Cafe closed it’s doors.  However, they seemed to be joining forces and planned to share the space across from the Post Office on Vernon St.  Months went by with no update or observable progress. Meanwhile, the only other Cheese Louise, located in Downtown Sac, shut down.

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Eventually, Java Jungle posted a message on Facebook saying that they were not going to reopen with Cheese Louise because it was not working out between them.  It seemed that Cheese Louise would go it on it’s own.  At least another year passed with the “coming soon” sign in the window, yet nothing changed.  I gave up on it quite a long time ago, but at the beginning of this year, out of the blue, they actually opened!  However, it was with a big caveat, they didn’t have a food menu yet.  It was basically just a coffee shop with pastries as far as I could tell.  That went on for about 5 months I think.  Only very recently have they started serving food.  And with that, I finally visit this gourmet grilled cheese shop.

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I headed in for lunch yesterday right at noon.  There were only a few other customers in at the time.  The space felt wide open.  When Java Jungle was here, it was a maze of funky and mismatched furniture.  It’s much more uniform now, but feels a bit sterile and much, much less cozy (save for a couple of couches).  The fireplace that sits in the center of the right side of the dining room feels out of place now, without some armchairs to enjoy it in.

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As I waited in line I glanced over 2 of the 3 blackboard menus they had hanging over the counter.  The first listed some coffee beverages, the 2nd some sandwiches, and the 3rd was blank.  There were no descriptions so it was kind of difficult to figure out what to get.  Once I was next in line though, I could see a very rough photocopied paper menu that detailed the sandwiches better.  Below is that menu.

CheeseLouisSandwichMenu

There was a little board over the the left that listed a few smoothie flavors, strawberry, mango and peach.  In a display case next to that was a variety of pastries.  I saw some brownies [$1.25] in there so I figured I’d try one of those out for dessert.  I decided on the Porkie’s Friend (pulled pork, bacon, smoked Gouda cheese and apricot BBQ sauce on a ciabatta bun)[The blackboard said $6.95 but my receipt only shows $4.95…].  With it I got a side of french fries [$1.25] and a mango smoothie [$5.95].

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My smoothie was ready a few minutes before my food, which took about 15 minutes from when I paid.  I went up to the counter to pick the smoothie up.  It was fresh and tasted great.  It wasn’t overly sweet and had just a hint of a tartness to it.  My order was brought out to me as I tasted it.  The sandwich was more like a panini and less like a grilled cheese. There was a decent amount of Gouda in it though, enough to be able to taste it’s rich, smokey flavor in every bite.  The pork was tender and mixed in well with the apricot bbq sauce.  That sauce really dominated the sandwich.  It was incredibly sweet.  Traces of bacon surfaced here and there, but it was so overwhelmed it might as well not even been there.  The BBQ sauce and Gouda were the core of this sandwich.

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The fries were soft with a lightly crisp exterior and they were generously salted.  Without the salt I would have needed some ketchup but they made due as they were.  I saw another customer walk up to the counter and get a little container of ketchup, probably for their fries.  They don’t keep anything other than napkins at the tables.

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Finally I dug into my brownie a little bit.  I was close to full so I just had a few bites.  The consistency was perfect, it was nice and soft but slightly dense.  Unfortunately it wasn’t very sweet.  Rather it was like a darker, more bitter chocolate.  Not really what I had in mind.

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So, overall kind of a weird experience.  The sandwich and smoothie were good.  I probably would have preferred the sweetness be dialed back a bit on the BBQ sauce though.  It didn’t feel like a grilled cheese to me, and I think that’s the disappointing thing about this, not to say it was bad, just not at all what I’ve had in mind for the last 2+ years when I thought about gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches coming to Roseville.  I think I’d probably just go get the amazing grilled cheese at Yard House next time I’m in the mood for one.

Website: http://www.mycheeselouise.com

#238: Pickles ‘n Brew

I did a little overdue scouting yesterday and noticed that Pickles ‘n Brew had a Now Open sign up, so I thought that would be a good way to do lunch today.  This new sandwich shop is located at the corner of Foothills & Junction right next door to the excellent Kazoku Teriyaki & More.  This used to be a Mr. Pickles, and it was an odd one.  It was apparently not part of the official Mr. Pickles franchise yet was allowed to use the name and sandwiches.  On top of that it had a bizarre Jim Carrey theme to it, with posters everywhere and menu items named after his characters.

Fast forward this year.  Mr. Pickles closed down several months ago and the new owners (who purchased it as Mr. Pickles but decided it wasn’t working out) revamped it as Pickles ‘n Brew, catering to a slightly more adult customer base.  I took a peek at Yelp right before leaving to make sure they would be open and noticed that they had a perfect rating of 5 stars (albeit with less than 10 reviews).  This is a big turnaround from the late Mr. Pickles abysmal less-than-2 star rating.

Click menu image for larger version:

I arrived a bit before 11:30AM and headed in.  It was unrecognizable.  They completely gutted the place and started from scratch.  The only things that remained were the patio tables outside, I think the beverage cooler, and the odd shaped beam on the ceiling which used to follow above the old counter.  The space is clean and straightforward.  Just a handful of nice new tables with stools, cooler and the kitchen.  Even the kitchen looked very spartan.  Only what was needed for sandwich making and ringing people up was there and it was well organized.  There were a couple finishing up their lunch when I arrived and one worker behind the counter.  He greeted me right away and I paused to a few minutes to go over the menu which was on the wall to the right.

It has a lot of similarities to Mr. Pickles but there are enough changes to make it unique.  I read pretty much all 20 of their specialty sandwiches, which range from $7.49 to $7.99, and then settled on the #1: Sunset Cruz (Turkey, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Avocado)[$7.99].  I picked Dutch Crunch for the bread and asked for no pickles or pepperoncinis.  The rest of the toppings included mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes & red onion.

While he worked on my sandwich I picked out a Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest [$3.50] from the cooler and sat down for a bit, eventually meeting him at the register when he looked about done, around 7-8 minutes later.  He had wrapped my sandwich to go by accident so the presentation in my photo probably wasn’t quite as nice as it would be normally.  The bread-to-fillings ratio was decent, considering the Dutch crunch roll was fairly thick and dense.  The roll unfortunately had almost no crunch to it at all.  Flavor-wise it was pretty good, and most of the produce was very cold, crisp and fresh.  The avocado was in indeed cold and fresh (I saw him slicing it up), however it was not at all ripe.  I love avocado and get it on everything.  Until now I don’t think I’ve ever had to chew it though.  The hummus was tasty, although I think I would ask for extra next time as it was somewhat thin.

Overall it was an OK sandwich.  There’s some room for improvement but they are on the right track.  Pickles ‘n Brew is already a massive step up from the old Mr. Pickles.  The service was friendly and it was nice to have a tasty beer with my sandwich.  I do think they have strong competition in town from Beach Hut and other Mr. Pickles locations (which are generally much better than the one that was here), but if they keep heading in the direction they’ve set out on then they should do just fine.