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Grandwich 2015 sampled: First eight contestants bring few highlights

Aiming to try every last sandwich in the Grandwich competition within the first week, our team of four reviewers tried eight sandwiches on our first of three days. Here we share our winners and those that didn't quite meet the mark.
Raad's Mediterranean Grill's "Jambalaya Wrap was the easy favorite of the day

Raad's Mediterranean Grill's "Jambalaya Wrap was the easy favorite of the day /Courtesy of Grandwich

What we tried on Day One

See Day Two's assessment here.

And the final day's review here.

Then go out and try -and vote for- your own sandwiches with the help the Grandwich website.


The B.O.B. (Bobarino's)The Revolution Burger(Cemita Bun, 8oz Chorizo Pattie, Oaxaca cheese, jalapeno yogurt dressing, baby kale, fresh tomato, red onions, avocado, served with jalapeno potato wedges) $11.

Fish Lads: Po’boy (Fresh Lake Perch from Lake Erie from LaNassa Foods, Local Greens from Victory Farms in Hudsonville, Pickled Asparagus from Victory Farms, Sauce Gribiche, served on a Hoagie Bun from Field & Fire with Fresh cut Fries) $14

Bagger Dave's:  Crispy Cheese Bacon Burger ("Our prime rib recipe burger with applewood smoked bacon, a cheddar and Parmesan cheese crisp, tomato, lettuce, and mayo on a grilled sesame brioche bun") $10

Flanagan's Irish Pub:  Grilled Strawberry and Goat Cheese Sandwich (Local strawberries, goat cheese with arugula and basil leaves, pepper jelly, grilled on a multigrain wheat bread) $10

The Vault: Calder City Club (slow roasted Sobie Meat beef brisket in a special blend of ancho peppers, coffee, and tomato juice. Next, we pull the seasoned brisket, lay it across a slice of sourdough bread, and top it with swiss cheese. The Calder City Club is then layered with flash fried prosciutto ham for a salty crunch.  This is perfectly balanced with a thick slice of Michigan tomato along with roasted peppers and onions from Fryear's Farm Market- located in Alpine Township. The Calder City Club is finished off with our own Corazon chipotle con queso, grilled to perfection and served with a side of veggie root chips) $8.00

Bull's Head Tavern:  Marinated Pulled Pork Belly Bacon Topped with Avocado, Lettuce, Jalapenos, Red Cabbage Slaw, Tomatoes, & a Homemade Dijon Sriracha Aioli Served between Our Toasted Homemade Rosemary Focaccia Bun. Accompanied with Our Homemade Potato Chips. $10

Raad's Mediterranean Grill:  Choice of meat or tofu sautéed in garlic sauce with mushrooms, peppers and saffron rice served with signature salad and hummus. $8

Sip Organic Juice Bar: The Sipster (wrapped in local kale, a raw blend of organic beets, cucumbers, shredded carrots, parsley, sprouts, our savory cashew spread and served with our creamy spiced avocado dipping sauce. Ingredients include (all organic): kale*, carrot, cucumber, parsley, beet, a garlic parsley cashew cheese, tomatoes, sprouts and a jalapeño avocado dressing $6.50

Coming in second for the day was the sneaker hit from The Vault

Coming in second for the day was the sneaker hit from The Vault /Courtesy of Grandwich

Once again this year, four Rapidian reporters are trying every Grandwich they can in the first week of the competition. The Grandwich competition runs from July 7-24. Top 10 sandwiches are determined by public vote online, with the top 10 selections announced on July 27. Judges will then visit these remaining contenders and and on July 31, judges will announce their winners.

Our team of food critics for 2015 include Emily Savageau, Assistant General Manager of Donkey, culinary grad and former Sous Chef of Bandit Queen, who is back in Grand Rapids after cooking in Portland, Ore. for 5 years.; Tory O'Haire, chef, culinary educator, restauranteur, President of Grand Rapids Cocktail Guild (USBG), and a self-described "gentleman adventurer and general man-of-intrigue;" Holly Bechiri, Rapidian Managing Editor and locavore with a decade of experience in the food industry in her younger years and Steve Zaagman, TV reporter and restaurant investor, who has been a judge on a number of food contests and eats out every day at different local restaurants because he doesn't like cleaning up after cooking (though he admits he did once make a sandwich).

We have broken down our tastings into three days, and after each day, we'll share our favorites as well as what we see needs improvement. Once we have tried every sandwich at the end of the week, we'll select our top sandwiches overall and let you know which ones we'd look forward to going back to enjoy again.

The unanimous favorite from day one came from Raad's Mediterranean Grill. Raads provided our final taste of the day and I was glad to leave with a decent taste in my mouth. High in flavor and additional sides, it also offers a vegan and vegetarian option of marinated tofu. While this sandwich was the best of the day, it was not new to the rad menu offered by Raads. The sandwich is already offered on the current menu, but boasts additional sides - hummus and their signature salad- at a reduced price during the Grandwich competition at $8.

The Vault put forth a good effort. A second favorite of the tasters, this sandwich out-shined its rivals. A good sized sandwich, with a tempting flavor combination, the sandwich as a whole didn’t disappoint. The only negative marks were the overpowering flavor of chipotle which left a finish in the mouth distracting from the overall package. Those wanting to try this sandwich should be ready to go on a hunt to find them in the basement of the downtown office building at 200 Monroe NW.

In contrast, Sip Organic Juice Bar's tiny kale wrap, called "The Sipster," not only lacked in size but also in flavor. Many in our group are fans of raw food, smoothies and organic- but know that a better effort can be done within these parameters.

The Bobarino at the B.O.B.'s Revolution Burger had good intentions, but the execution did not win the war. A valiant effort was made in creativity with respect to the ingredients, but our tasters couldn’t tell if the vanilla yogurt was intentional or a mistake.

"The Revolution Burger blends a variety of authentic Mexican ingredients, each representing the spirit of different regions from our great sister country to the south," is an explanation coming from Chef Erick Romero on the Grandwich website. Unfortunately, we didn't find it particularly authentic Mexican food but instead found it confusing and far from a win.

We had high hopes for Fish Lads' large sandwich, especially given the price of $14, but unfortunately it fell a little short on flavor. The pickled asparagus looked appetizing but seemed to need more zestiness and crunch to be a valuable asset. Also, the fries couldn’t have been saved by Cialis. The flavor of the fries made up for their limpness, but ultimately it was a disappointment. That being said, the amount of food provided met the price to fullness ratio, but didn’t tantalize the taste buds. 

The entry from Bagger Dave's tasted like a traditional overcooked chain restaurant burger. The bacon was far from crispy and did nothing to add flavor, and the cheddar was mute. There were no addition sides included for the $10 price tag, so don’t get too excited about their contribution. 

The typical goat cheese lover would be excited to try the new take on a grilled cheese from Flanagan's Irish Pub, and the idea was highly intriguing. The reality of this sandwich resulted in a messy, hard eat, overly sweet mistake. Think of a Schmucker’s “Goober” sandwich with goat cheese, but at a $10 price point. 

Bull’s Head Tavern's "Dutch Crunch" did not disappoint as far as appearance, and the tasters' eyes were wide in hunger at this point in the competition. However, the grease from this entry rivaled the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. With just an adjustment in the grease remaining from the pulled pork belly, this sandwich would have scored much higher.

Overall it was a slightly disappointing day in the world of Grandwiches, as evidenced by the fact that three of the four of us didn't bother to take our leftovers home. Perhaps tomorrow will bring the sandwich that simply can’t be missed.  In the meantime we’ll keep on wishing and hoping- for better sandwiches in days to come and for those we tried today to take the chance to make adjustments to their entries. 


See Day Two's assessment here.

And the final day's review here.

Then go out and try -and vote for- your own sandwiches with the help the Grandwich website.

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