Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is the 'Spicy Special' everything it's cracked up to be?

Affectionately known as the 'spicy special,' it's a footlong hero filled with cajun turkey, spicy mustard, mayo, pepper jack cheese, and I guess what could pass for lettuce and tomatoes. It sounds plain, but I swear it's not. It's an old time favorite of fratboys and drunkards alike, and something I didn't really understand until last year. Since then, it, and it's brethren sandwiches, have been staples in my diet.

So I guess it was inevitable that I reviewed the spicy special, and actually I'm not really sure what took me so damn long to do it. First off, Gourmet Deli on 109th and Amsterdam is not a real upscale place. It's undergone some renovations recently that include moving the sandwich bar to the opposite side of the narrow hole in the wall storefront, and cleaning up the dingy paint job. Needless to say, it lost some credibility in my eyes. Still, when compared to the friendly atmosphere of say... a Hamdel, it is still pretty shady (you'll often find drunk homeless people getting into arguments with patrons of the establishment when they don't give out change). The storefront... uh, yeah nothing special. I honestly would not have ever bought a sandwich out of such a crappy looking place if the sandwich didn't boast the reputation it does on campus. Anywho, if you do walk in, go straight to the sandwich bar, ignore everything else, and for the love of god don't get the cheeseburger (chopped is different).

First on the chopping block is... the spicy special a.k.a. the crack special itself. The ingredients have been previously listed. Again, I should reiterate, don't judge this sandwich purely based on what goes into it. If you do, you'll make the mistake of never having one... then another... then another 20 as you become a regular, which is unavoidable. So it's a plain hero that's toasted with some meat and cheese, what's so special you ask? To be honest, it's not truly spicy like the name implies, it's more of a subtle tanginess if I can call it anything. What makes this hero rise above it's peers vs. Milano's or Lenny's or most other midtown/morningside sandwich shops is its price. It's an even $4 hot and on a hero. In fact, it's only $3.50 if you order it cold or on a roll, but pay the extra 2 quarters... it's a lot more food. I'm not implying that this is the only thing that makes the sandwich redeemable, because that would be selling it short. No, it's a remarkable sandwich which melds flavors together incredibly well... the selling price is only half the story. I should add though, the reputation it has earned as a heavy hitter among Columbia students is mostly due to the fact that the deli is 24/7 and that kids are very drunk or stupid hungry when they go. So take from this what you will... I love this sandwich, I would eat it every meal of every day for a month if I had to, but if you're expecting 'free foods' quality from something that doesn't break a Lincoln? You're looking in the wrong place (case in point: I sometimes buy scratch lottery tickets from here).

As a bonus, I also got a 'Sweetie Pie.' No it's not a dessert, it's actually another sandwich (what? it was 5 am and I was hungry as hell... and like I said, I can't eat this much food when I go home). In it is chicken with honey sauce, American cheese, and again... the same measly amounts of lettuce and tomatoes. Is this sandwich any good? Eh, it's 50/50. It was good because I was hungry... but everything's good when you're hungry. It also wasn't so bad where I wouldn't eat it again if I was offered one. I guess to explain, I would order it again, since it's also so cheap at $4, but only if the 'Spicy Special' and the 'London Bridge' (have to wait for another post) didn't exist. So sadly, I will never eat another one. Back to the sandwich though. The sweet sauce melds with the American cheese in way too terrific to explain, not unlike the mixing of flavors between spicy mustard and pepper jack cheese, but the chicken was dry and tasted as if it had been reheated once too many times, which ultimately ruins this sandwich for me. You're probably thinking that mine might've been a dud. Nope, this is my third and last. Every one has been consistently, which is good, dry, which is bad haha.

Like I said, this is my last 'off' day for the gym before the end of the year, as well as my last pigout celebration before I return to a life of normal caloric proportions, so that's why I had so much food at 5 in the morning. I also found out I can drink a gallon of milk and keep it down. I'm also 153 pounds as of this very moment. In case you can't tell, I'm quite proud of both those accomplishments. How long before I go sub 140 again? If I were a betting man I'd set the over/under on 7 days...


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oh snap. I can control the text here?