Taste Test: The Lobster Roll at Quizno’s

In which we dive into the abyss that is the toasted-sandwich chain’s elusive seafood sandwich.

On the DL: Quizno's off-menu lobster roll. Photograph by Melissa Romero.

Call me Ishmael, and the Quizno’s lobster and seafood salad sub the white whale.

Last summer I undertook a taste test of chain lobster rolls, seeking out the best of the worst. We caught rumors of a Quizno’s lobster special, but it had seemingly vanished by the time we’d lined up others from Subway, Au Bon Pain, Marvelous Market, and Panera. Then, around Lent, it resurfaced, but remained hard to find. Not every Quizno’s carries the sandwich, some that do don’t advertise it, and it’s absent from Quizno’s main menu except in the nutritional information. The sub is as mysterious as the sea meat inside.

Determined, I stopped into a local Quizno’s. Currently there’s no sign of it on the location’s menu of “chef-inspired” items like grilled flatbreads, pesto chicken, sliders, and other foods chefs might make if they worked at Quizno’s. But when I asked the man behind the counter if the store carried lobster rolls, his answer surprised me. He offered to make up a fresh batch of lobster salad on the spot.

Promising signs included a toasted (artisanal!) bun spread with butter, and the whole fresh-made thing. Less promising: how quickly the accommodating Quizno’s employee emerged from the back with a bucket, and started scooping the pink stuff onto the bun. Old promo material shows the sandwich simply dressed with lettuce, but we jazzed it up with some tomato and banana peppers—not a purist approach, but this is a place that spells crave with a “q.” The result? Not that bad, actually. The dominant flavor is industrial-strength mayonnaise, which could be worse considering the unknown origin of the “and seafood” portion of the meal (best guess: shredded fake crab, which is a mix of real crab and pollock). The little knuckle-like nuggets of lobster were tasteless, but speaking purely from a visual point of view, they simulate lobster pretty effectively. And as one relieved cubicle-mate astutely noted:

“At least it doesn’t smell bad.”

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.