Editor’s note: The Grand Sandwich has closed.
There was kind of a good vs. evil thing going on in the comments section for our post announcing the opening of The Grand Sandwich in St. Paul. Or perhaps it’s “enthusiast vs. skeptic” or “shill vs. competitor” or “lover vs. fighter.” Take your pick:
DLT wrote: “It has been opened for about a month and the sandwiches are great! … This is a welcomed addition to the Grand Avenue/Macalester neighborhood. A real plus is the owner who seems to really be interested in what the customers think and suggest!”
and WilliamVB wrote: “Not worth the money. Sandwiches were uninspired. I could have made better at home. I wouldn’t really call this a deli, either. With Cecil’s close by, I don’t think this place will last long.”
A quick sampling of the menu shows both commentators are a little extreme in their viewpoints. The Grand Sandwich does a decent job of delivering relatively big sandwiches to students in search of fuel and seems likely to prosper on that basis, but it doesn’t — as of yet — offer a whole lot more than that.
A Grand Reuben ($7) stood out as a way to leverage ingredients of marginal quality to yield overall good flavor — while the corned beef wouldn’t pass muster over at Cecil’s (or, well, any actual deli), the overall proportions of meat, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing were good, and the final package was tasty. The accompanying cole slaw tasted fairly one-note and food service-y, unfortunately.
The Turkey With Cranberry sandwich ($6.70 with a side of tomato bisque soup) was a through-and-through dud. While there was a lot of sandwich to be eaten, the turkey was Oscar Mayer-grade, and the cranberry chutney was little more than a slightly sweetened red smear. Overall flavor levels were turned down almost to mute, and an accompanying tomato “bisque” (it was actually fairly rustic and chunky) was dangerously close to a marinara sauce in flavor and texture.
And the milkshake. Oh, man, the milkshake. At $2.75, it seemed like a deal, particularly since the place has an honest-to-goodness milkshake machine on premises. But their chocolate shake tasted eerily close to the McDonald’s equivalent, which is mind-boggling. How does one even get a shake with such an unfortunate texture and so little chocolate flavor? If you just went to Cub, bought some vanilla Edy’s, added a tablespoon of Hershey’s Syrup and some 1% milk, you’d get a richer, tastier, far more plausible milkshake.
It seems likely that The Grand Sandwich is going to serve a need, providing local students an accessible place to grab a relatively cheap and comforting lunch. But it won’t amount to much more than that unless it mans up and starts incorporating a better class of ingredients… not that changing business models in midstream is ever necessarily a good idea. In this case, it probably makes more sense to listen to the banker, not the food critic.
BEST BET: The Reuben. Not glatt kosher excellent, but not bad.
The Grand Sandwich
1672 Grand Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105
OWNER: Daniel Esrig
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $6-7