Elsie Sub Shop Red Bank NJ


(Greg Caggiano) #1

A review of Elsie’s Sub Shop. Usually I wait a day or two after I eat somewhere to post. Sometimes longer. But I felt this could not wait. No bueno!

They may have been in existence since 1959, but some things do indeed deserve to come to an end. Maybe we caught the famed Elsie’s Sandwich Shop on a bad day. Google reviews has them at a 4.8, while Facebook is 4.9. Both with a pretty large amount of ratings. But are these people stuck in a nostalgic time-warp from when this place used to be good? Or did we get the D-League team of sandwich makers upon our visit today? I dislike giving such poor reviews based on one visit. Much like I am not keen on awarding my top score on a lone stopover. However, this is a competitive world and you sometimes only get one chance to win someone over, especially in an area so overloaded with dining establishments.

Look, I wasn’t going in with delusions of grandeur. I pretty much knew I was getting a turkey sub before I even walked in the place. You’re not getting a Michelin Star for that. When it comes to sandwich shops and takeout joints, scoring a 3 would mean the experience was good. 3.5 or 4 would probably be tops unless something out-of-this-world occurred. As soon as I entered, I thought we were off to a good start. The red and white colors of the dining area and front windows brought me back to an earlier time. It was cute. It was “old timey”. I kind of assumed from the atmosphere alone that the food would also be good. Alas, you know what happens when we assume.

e1

I ordered the number five, which was turkey, mayo, and cranberry sauce. There are 50 options but I was not in the mood for cheese nor something with a lot of cold cuts. I went with a mundane choice, yes, but that means my expectations were already pretty low. I added lettuce, tomato, and onion. The man making the sandwich asked if I wanted oil and vinegar, to which I said I did not. He also offered some of their hot pepper relish, which sounded like a nice addition. I went with that. The relish seems to be something of a house specialty. The other three people ordering in front of Justin and I all had it. And when I finally tasted the sandwich, I realized why. It was delicious. A little more than mild, but not overpowering. It added a pickle-like bite along with some heat. But there wasn’t enough of it and that was the high point of my sandwich.

Despite never asking for oregano and never dreaming that a sandwich with cranberry sauce would call for a dusting of the herb I loathe with a passion, there it was. Those dim green specks that make my stomach turn scattered here and there. Strike one. Thankfully it was a flurry and not a blizzard. I did not want to send it back. I flicked off the coated lettuce as best as I could. I could barely taste it after that. Next came biting into the sandwich, which was dripping with water. Did they put oil and vinegar despite my request not to? I honestly could not tell. The pepper relish hid the flavor of vinegar but I cannot imagine what I had on that sandwich causing that amount of liquid to drip out. This was a cold sub, mind you. My paper plate was soaked right through to the back, nearly falling apart. Strike two.

At first, I did not like the sub one bit. I was angry. Then it warmed on me. A little. I became sedate with this strange concoction in front of me. Oregano, mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, hot peppers, and a Niagra Falls amount of water splashing out with every bite. The roll became soggy—kind of like at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, when they dip the buns in water so they can slurp them down easier. Kobayashi would have been right at home. The quality of said bread was no better or worse than what you would find at Blimpie, or worse: Quick Chek.

e2

On to Justin’s sub, where do I begin? His “Pizza Sub” was so loaded with grease that I could hear his arteries hardening with every bite. While mine sprung water, his dripped little reddish beads all over the tin foil wrapping his sandwich came presented in. There was a decent amount of pepperoni and mozzarella, but holy hell, this was a gastrointestinal A-bomb designed for the mass destruction of one’s colon. He ate half of his half and threw it in the garbage. I took one bite, which was enough, and can say that it did not actually taste of anything. If you are going to send someone into coronary, at least make sure they have a smile on their face en route to Riverview. Strike three.

I don’t know what to make of this place. I wanted to badly to like it, but in the end I come out feeling rather detested about it. I mean, come on! I wanted a damn turkey sandwich. How could you possibly screw it up? I fear for the lives of anyone who would dare order their “Burger Sub” or something that requires actual cooking. The only—and I mean the only—thing I can commend them on is their prices. For Red Bank, this place is more than affordable if you need some subs, especially in a large group. I think ours were $5.35 each or something close to that. But it didn’t matter. They could have been free and this review would be the same. 2 out of 5 stars, and that is being kind.

Review originally posted on my food blog, here.


Red Bank redux version 2.0
(Mr met) #2

Ty. I thought I was the only one who disliked this place
Poor quality everything along with being dirty, not really sue why it’s a beloved spot.
Bagelmasters, Strokers both blow it out of the water let alone a place like Brennan’s.


(Joon) #3

Man that is one sad looking turkey sub. It looks like that slimy kind with massive amounts of water and salt injected too. You could get that for 3 bucks at Quick Chek and load it up with veggies.

I gotta say the pizza sub looks pretty glorious. I make pretty much exactly that occasionally at home when I’m drunk (on an english muffin or white bread, grilled cheese style), but I don’t know how I’d feel about eating a whole sub of it and paying restaurant money.


(Greg Caggiano) #4

Yeah, I can see a big ol’ greasy thing like that being pretty enticing when drunk. Too bad we were very much sober. :no_mouth:


#5

This why I went here twice like 15 years ago and never went back…vLiterally like 15 years ago. They have been around a while.


(D) #6

That place never looked inviting to me. And I never searched out what kind of reputation they had because I don’t go to RB enough for a sub to ever be my choice for something to eat. But if I ever need something quick before heading to a concert down the street I’ll remember this review and find something else.


#7

Have you tried talercio’s in middletown?


(Junior) #8

Funny, I too went to Elsie’s once, due mostly to how fondly it was spoken of on Chow. I went with sky high expectations only to have them crash to the ground like an infamous dirigible in the spring of 37’ in Lakehurst NJ. Never been back, never will be back.

For my money the best sub’s are Demarco’s in Matawan, especially their tuna fish with hot peppers. I take the trip at least once a year for one of those babies. Kind of sad what happened to their business since Lavoti’s opened up 34 from them, still great subs though.


#9

+1 for Talercio’s

They have some damn tasty sandwiches. The only issue is that the line sometimes gets crazy, but just call ahead. We have also used them for catering which was a big hit.


(David) #10

If you want a good, plain turkey sub the go to choice has always been Joyce’s in Lincroft over Elsie’s.


#11

In Red Bank, Monmouth Meats makes good sandwiches for lunch.


(Junior) #12

While I’ve never had a sub from them, I will tell you that Wegman’s makes a hell of a wrap. Now that beach club time of year is here, Brennan’s has been my “go-to” for lunch wraps, but honestly I like Wegman’s much more. Wegman’s, has anyone had a sub from them?


(D) #13

I’ve had one or two. I thought they were adequate, like most of their prepared foods.


(Mr met) #14

I get the turkey there usually -but honestly its not best quality turkey- but the bread and fixins are quite good. I once got them to make a chicken finger sub with the chicken fingers from the pizza dept…with honey mustard, that was money…

I also will say- this thread makes me so happy, thank you Greg for bringing this up- I honestly thought I was nuts b/c anyone I talked to loves this place and I thought it was gross. When we moved here it was legit one of the first places I tried so I could fit in with the locals and shed my Benny genes…and it was beyond a disappointment- definitely a quick check level sub at best.


(Junior) #15

Funny I get the turkey wrap and I haven’t had an issue with the quality, although the roast beef and Swiss might help disguise it. I don’t know if they use larger wraps but I get nice meaty wraps with plenty of room for fixings.


(Greg Caggiano) #16

Wegman’s isn’t bad. As another poster said, it tastes like what you would expect. Usually, I get them custom made rather than the prepared ones. The breads are much better than the usual suspects (Blimpie, Wawa, Quick Chek). Nothing spectacular, but at least there’s a hint of quality.

And I might add that their horseradish sauce is HOT. Took my breath away. Unless they changed something since I last had it about 2 years ago.


(Joon) #17

As far as I can tell, there are three kinds of turkey (and roast beef) out in the wild.

The standard turkey is the Boar’s head level turkey. These are slightly wet, a bit throughout and fine in most situations it vaguely tastes like turkey. The level below is the cheapo turkey that’s got more water and salt and has that slimy wet texture that indicates it is heavily brined and full of added water. If you tasted it blind you’d almost not be sure if it was turkey or ham.

The “real” turkey is a bit drier and not salty throughout. Diners and delis that cook their own have this kind of turkey. There’s a huge difference between this kind of turkey and all the other kinds out there. Wegmans used to have this kind called “Just Turkey” at their deli, but I don’t think they carry it any more.

All of the above also applies to roast beef. I’m personally not a huge fan of anything but the “store baked” variety of these cold cuts.


(Pamela) #18

I always loved Elsie’s tuna subs. However while I was waiting for my sub to be prepared the last time I went (late Spring 2018), I noticed that there was a teenager prepping food (slicing tomatoes) in the back room without protective gloves and it kind of grossed me out (had he washed his hands?) so I reluctantly have not gone back.


#19

If this grosses you out I suggest never eating at any restaurant lol. Well I guess if you can’t see it then it is “out of sight out of mind.” I’ve worked in a few restaurants and delis when I was young.

Joon, there are some good “real turkey” breasts out there. Have you had boars head salsalito? That stuff is top notch…real breast meat and not mashed together solution injected meat. It’s probably my favorite readily available turkey cold cut …great flavor.


(Joon) #20

I haven’t had it but I saw someone asking for a recipe for it on another site the other day so it must be good! In general the only cold cuts I get are some cheap hams when I get a nostalgic hankering for childhood style ham sandwiches. 8-10$/lb for turkey breast is a deal breaker for me because for that price I’m eating steak. Occasionally when turkey breast goes on sale for 1$/lb I’ll buy and roast it myself… and then I get tired of it and don’t think of it for another year or so. lol