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Guest Post: A panini lunch

This post penned by friend-of-sandwiches @lauren816, of Bucks County, Penn. Thanks for the guest contribution! Have you eaten a sandwich recently? Want to review it for the blog? Have your people talk to my people, and by that I mean email or tweet or whatever me.

First of all, this is my first blog post in a very long time, and most definitely my first blog post relating to sandwiches, so go easy on me, sandwich-people. Don’t get me wrong, I love sandwiches ... many of them at least, but I never thought about blogging about them. Of course that was before I was introduced to this blog by owner/editor @alexheadrick. So, after eating a panini at my first office lunch outing in about a year, I felt I could finally provide a decent sandwich review that just might be blog-worthy.

My group wanted to go to an old favorite, Houlihan’s, where I would have gotten the best baked potato soup ever, but as fate would have it, our beloved Houlihan’s at the end of the road in Warrington, Penn. has closed its doors permanently. I guess that made me destined to eat and review a panini instead. (Thanks Houlihan’s — I’ll miss you!) And so we crossed the big road and ended up at a fairly new restaurant — TJ Smith’s. TJ’s is known for its sports bar atmosphere and really good bar food. I had never had the opportunity to eat lunch there before. The menu had two paninis to offer (as well as Reubens, chicken sandwiches, cheesesteaks — this is a Philly ‘burb — and wraps and burgers … I’ll leave it to the expert to determine which of them are and are not considered sandwiches). (Ed. All are sandwiches besides the burgers.)

City Hall, Philly
It seems that by any definition, a panini is definitely a sandwich, which is good since I’m reviewing it on a sandwich review blog. I guess I should get right to it then. After much debate, I settled on ordering a Mediterranean Chicken Panini. The description was: grilled chicken, spinach, oven roasted tomatoes and provolone cheese with pesto aioli. I chose this sandwich solely on the fact that I wanted the following:

  1. Something under $12
  2. Something hot
  3. Something that wouldn’t give me the need to pick off ingredients I don’t like or ask to have it “without the [lettuce/mayo/pickles/other ingredient].”

This sandwich fit all three categories (sorry lettuce, mayo and pickle lovers ;) ).

I’m happy to report that the panini was delicious. The bread was nice and thick and toasted with some kind of surely extremely fattening garlicky butter baked on the outside. The inside was lined with the pesto aioli, made with basil, olive oil and garlic. It had a great taste, but that along with the buttery exterior made the whole thing just a little too greasy. The chicken was perfect — tender and pounded flat. I like chicken best when it’s in smaller bites. I think it gives it more flavor, and makes it much easier to eat than big chunks of chicken. The rest of it — tomatoes and spinach were pretty ordinary, but I though the sandwich had the perfect balance of each. I didn’t even notice the provolone cheese. It must have melted in with the aioli, but I didn’t mind. It probably didn’t need the cheese at all. Overall, the sandwich just worked. I didn’t even mind digging spinach out from between my teeth after eating it. I returned to work an hour and a half later (I justify that because I haven’t taken a lunch break in a year), much happier and much more full than I usually feel after my usual PB and J-at-my-desk lunch. I’m looking forward to going out with the team again next time. Perhaps more sandwich reviews are in my future …

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