Last month, when writing about Wienershnitzel's Bacon Ranch Chili Cheese Fries, I mentioned that I have a hard time understanding who comes up with these ideas. There is a flip side to that coin: the products that look great on paper but are screwed up in the execution.
I have no trouble understanding why Jack in the Box decided to add a pastrami version to their lineup of grilled sandwiches. I tried their "Deli Trio" sandwich a few months back and was pleasantly surprised. The dressing on it was a cloying, oily, fake-cheese tasting sauce that my dog wouldn't even eat, but the meats, and especially the toasted bread, were very good.
So when I heard about the pastrami sandwich, with pickles and "deli mustard," I knew I should give it a try. A pastrami sandwich when done properly is one of the great things in life: a salty, spicy, chewy affair. Small pieces of pastrami will fall out of the sandwich and ideally you will want to stab every last morsel with a fork and cram them into your mouth.
Conversely, a lousy pastrami sandwich is one of the great culinary letdowns. Anyone who has ordered a pastrami and received a fatty mess of rubbery beef on a soaked roll knows exactly what I'm talking about. A bad pastrami sandwich will fall apart faster than Jonathan Broxton in the 9th inning.
I certainly wasn't expecting greatness from Jack's sandwich, but I was hoping it would be just as good as the previous grilled sandwich I tried. It was not. It was, unfortunately, terrible. The meat was all shoveled into the center of the sandwich; the bites on the end contained no meat. Not that I was complaining, though, since the meat was as bad as any pastrami I have ever had. It was full of fat and as chewy as Big League Chew. (Except for the crispy burnt pieces that tasted like hair.) The pickles, cheese and mustard were decent, and the bread was once again very tasty. But that was small consolation.
If you want a sandwich at Jack in the Box, get one of the others. If you want a pastrami sandwich, go someplace else.
(I should add, however, that Jack and I are not really on the same page these days. Items of Jack's that I think are good - like the mini buffalo ranch chicken sandwiches, or the outstanding spicy chicken bites, or the best-thing-I-have-ever-had-at-a-fast-food-restaurant toasted ravioli - all disappear. While items I find terrible, like the mini sirloin burgers, really big chicken sandwich, and the horrible pita snacks all stick around.)