Sub’r Bowl Review: R&B’s Taste of Chicago

This is my first review for our little “SUB’r Bowl” we’re playing at work. Each week we try a different sub shop from one of 16 sub places, broken up into 4 “divisions” and 2 “conferences.” The first place we tried was R&B;’s Taste of Chicago.

Since this is the first place I’m reviewing, I’m going to briefly outline how we’ve broken up the 16 restaurants:

Conference 1:
National Chain Restaurants
Conference 2:
Local Restaurants
Division A:
Over 1000 Locations
Division B:
Under 1000 Locations
Division C:
Sandwich Shops
Division D:
Pizza Shops
• Blimpie
• Jimmy Johns
• Quiznos
• Subway
• Earl of Sandwich
• Firehouse Subs
• Jasons Deli
• Lenny’s Sub Shop
• Boston Subworks
• R&B;’s Taste of Chicago
• Thundercloud Subs
• W D Deli
• Florio’s
• Main Street Pizza
Romes Pizza Ray’s Pizzaria
VJ’s Pizza Cerroni’s the Original Purple Garlic

The divisions are totally arbitrary, and the schedule is whatever we feel like. The participants are myself, Dave, Greg and Kelley. Rating categories score one of 0/3/6/7, based on football scoring (field goal, TD, TD + extra point). There is also a “bonus” category, in which 2 points can be awarded at discretion, if there was something extra outstanding about the experience.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the review!

As I mentioned, our first contender was R&B;’s Taste of Chicago. R&B;’s has a reputation for serving real Chicago-style food using Vienna beef products.  I first found this place a couple years ago when I drove by the strip plaza on Austin Highway and stopped in to see what it was. I’ve been there a couple of times, and both times I had the hot Italian Beef sub, R&B;’s being the only place in town I know of that serves it.

For the purposes of this visit, I ordered the Zesty Italian sub. They apparently have 3 versions of the Italian sub, each with a successive addition of meat: the Classic, the Zesty and the Supreme. They were apparently out of prosciutto, which makes the Supreme “better” than the Zesty, or I would have probably ordered the Supreme. There was a choice of hot or sweet peppers, and I picked the hot (crushed cherry) peppers.

It took about 10 minutes to fill the order, which seemed kind of long for a relatively simple sandwich and not a large crowd.  The sandwich was about 7 inches long on an Italian bread roll.  It was toasted, but too much in my opinion, when the bread is scraping against the top of your mouth.  There was nothing wrong really with the bread, but there was nothing special about it either.

The insides of the sandwich were fairly underwhelming: 1 slice each of provolone, ham, capicola ham, and genoa salami, lettuce, tomato, spices and peppers.  There was supposed to be pickles on it as well, but I didn’t notice any.  It was odd to me that the meat was laying on top of everything else, but maybe it was to make it look like there was more meat than there actually was.  It was a decent tasting sandwich, and the meats were good quality, but overall the sandwich just seemed average. It didn’t taste anything better than what I could make myself with a hard roll and cold cuts, and, despite the quality of the meats, not really worth $6+.

The drink selection was kind of disappointing: Pepsi products and some really weak iced tea. I opted for the tea, since Pepsi products don’t really float my boat, so they really made a killing on my drink. And it was wholly unsatisfying, save for that it was wet.

I tried some of the sides the other guys ordered.  The french fries were of the Sam’s Club variety and overly fried. Ditto for the onion rings, which were breaded but otherwise had no detectable spices.  There was something “off” about the taste of the fried foods, and I decided that perhaps the oil was just too old.

I rated the following categories:

  • Bread: 3
  • Sandwich Stuff: 6
  • Price/Value: 3
  • Non-sandwich Stuff: 0
  • Bonus points: 0
  • Total: 12 points

I rather enjoy the hot Italian beef sandwich when I get it from R&B;, so I really wanted to like the sub. However, it was just so unremarkable all around that I can’t give it any higher marks.  The actual meat, what little of it was there, was really good quality and very tasty, so I felt I could give it high marks for that; but there just wasn’t enough of it to make it a truly outstanding sandwich.

See Also:
Greg’s Review