Club Sandwiches - A Brief Dissertation

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Briar Tuck

Lifer
Nov 29, 2022
1,109
5,737
Oregon coast
I enjoy a good club sandwich. That's typically what I'll order if it's on the menu at any restaurant or pub I've never been to before. I've found the quality of the club sandwich to be a pretty good indicator of overall food quality. I also usually order a club whenever we play a gig, because I can eat half before the gig and then finish the rest later during a break or after the gig, when I'm always hungry. Since the club is a cold sandwich to start with, no worries about it getting cold during the gig.

Needless to say I consider myself a club aficionado and I have some strong opinions on what makes a club a club. Here are some requirements that I consider a starting point for a proper club sandwich.

Three slices of bread. This is really a defining feature of a club sandwich. Nevertheless, I've been served "club sandwiches" with only two slices of bread. Unacceptable

Ham, turkey, and bacon. All three are required. Everyone usually gets the bacon in there, but too many places leave out the ham or sometimes the turkey. My local pub only uses turkey and bacon; no bueno.

Two types of cheese. Cheddar and Swiss are typically used, but there should be two types regardless of selection. This is another area where my local pub fails, using only cheddar. The sandwich can still be good with only one type of cheese, but it will be disappointing nonetheless.

Lettuce and tomato. It's not common, but some places will omit the tomato. This really detracts from the sandwich, not just in flavor, but in moisture, which is very important with three slices of bread.

Mayonnaise on both sides of middle bread slice. Insufficient mayonnaise is probably the most common cause of club failure, and will turn an otherwise good club into a dry, unsatisfying sandwich. Failure to apply mayo to the middle slice is usually the culprit. With three slices of bread you simply can't afford to skimp on the mayo. Slather it on thick, one side of the top and bottom slices, both sides of the middle slice.

No mustard. Some people love mustard. I love mustard. Mustard has no place on a club sandwich. It's fine to offer it as an option, but it should never be the default. I've had more than one otherwise good club spoiled this way.

Lightly toasted bread. This isn't a deal breaker, and different people have different tastes as far as toast doneness, but lightly toasted should always be the default. I prefer mine toasted very lightly, and I'd even prefer untoasted over dark toasted.


That pretty much covers the basics. Quantity and quality of ingredients is also very important, of course. A club with skimpy servings of meat is never going to be great, and neither is one with stale bread, wilted lettuce, soggy tomatoes, or hard cheese.

My wife ordered the club at our local pub yesterday despite it's failings. I ate half of it today as leftovers and it was a reminder of why I rarely order it there, and what prompted me to post this dissertation. This weekend I have a gig at a bar that makes a great club, all the basics covered, and lots of fresh ham and turkey, piled high. I'm really looking forward to it.


F492C1D4-1D49-4285-A9AE-4392A123FC15.jpeg
 
Jul 26, 2021
2,129
8,805
Metro-Detroit
Excellent dissertation. A few brief comments.

The lettuce should ideally be romaine and the tomatoes roma or heirloom, seasoned with salt and pepper.

I enjoy the bread ends toasted on the outside, but not the inside while the middle piece is toasted all over and slathered in mayonnaise. The untoasted bread sides should be heavily buttered.
 

brian64

Lifer
Jan 31, 2011
9,599
14,652
I enjoy a good club sandwich. That's typically what I'll order if it's on the menu at any restaurant or pub I've never been to before. I've found the quality of the club sandwich to be a pretty good indicator of overall food quality. I also usually order a club whenever we play a gig, because I can eat half before the gig and then finish the rest later during a break or after the gig, when I'm always hungry. Since the club is a cold sandwich to start with, no worries about it getting cold during the gig.

Needless to say I consider myself a club aficionado and I have some strong opinions on what makes a club a club. Here are some requirements that I consider a starting point for a proper club sandwich.

Three slices of bread. This is really a defining feature of a club sandwich. Nevertheless, I've been served "club sandwiches" with only two slices of bread. Unacceptable

Ham, turkey, and bacon. All three are required. Everyone usually gets the bacon in there, but too many places leave out the ham or sometimes the turkey. My local pub only uses turkey and bacon; no bueno.

Two types of cheese. Cheddar and Swiss are typically used, but there should be two types regardless of selection. This is another area where my local pub fails, using only cheddar. The sandwich can still be good with only one type of cheese, but it will be disappointing nonetheless.

Lettuce and tomato. It's not common, but some places will omit the tomato. This really detracts from the sandwich, not just in flavor, but in moisture, which is very important with three slices of bread.

Mayonnaise on both sides of middle bread slice. Insufficient mayonnaise is probably the most common cause of club failure, and will turn an otherwise good club into a dry, unsatisfying sandwich. Failure to apply mayo to the middle slice is usually the culprit. With three slices of bread you simply can't afford to skimp on the mayo. Slather it on thick, one side of the top and bottom slices, both sides of the middle slice.

No mustard. Some people love mustard. I love mustard. Mustard has no place on a club sandwich. It's fine to offer it as an option, but it should never be the default. I've had more than one otherwise good club spoiled this way.

Lightly toasted bread. This isn't a deal breaker, and different people have different tastes as far as toast doneness, but lightly toasted should always be the default. I prefer mine toasted very lightly, and I'd even prefer untoasted over dark toasted.


That pretty much covers the basics. Quantity and quality of ingredients is also very important, of course. A club with skimpy servings of meat is never going to be great, and neither is one with stale bread, wilted lettuce, soggy tomatoes, or hard cheese.

My wife ordered the club at our local pub yesterday despite it's failings. I ate half of it today as leftovers and it was a reminder of why I rarely order it there, and what prompted me to post this dissertation. This weekend I have a gig at a bar that makes a great club, all the basics covered, and lots of fresh ham and turkey, piled high. I'm really looking forward to it.


View attachment 208078
I was with you until no mustard...but otherwise very good. You are correct though that it's out of place on a club, but I love mustard too much. At least it's not as bad as putting ketchup on a hot dog.

I used to order clubs all the time as a kid when we went to restaurants, but for some reason haven't had one in a very long time. I guess I'll have to get back around to it.
 

Briar Tuck

Lifer
Nov 29, 2022
1,109
5,737
Oregon coast
Excellent dissertation. A few brief comments.

The lettuce should ideally be romaine and the tomatoes roma or heirloom, seasoned with salt and pepper.

I enjoy the bread ends toasted on the outside, but not the inside while the middle piece is toasted all over and slathered in mayonnaise. The untoasted bread sides should be heavily buttered.
All good points. Romaine or other leaf lettuce for sure. Iceberg lettuce on a club is not good.
 

beefeater33

Lifer
Apr 14, 2014
4,048
6,070
Central Ohio
Excellent write-up! I haven't had a Club in years. My late mother made them with homemade sourdough bread, sometimes she'd put a slice of homemade dark rye in the center. Man, those were good!.......... I agree on the no mustard, and it's got to be REAL mayo- Duke's or Hellmann's.
And I LOVE CATSUP on my hot dogs........................
 

Briar Tuck

Lifer
Nov 29, 2022
1,109
5,737
Oregon coast
I was with you until no mustard...but otherwise very good. You are correct though that it's out of place on a club, but I love mustard too much. At least it's not as bad as putting ketchup on a hot dog.

I used to order clubs all the time as a kid when we went to restaurants, but for some reason haven't had one in a very long time. I guess I'll have to get back around to it.
I also love mustard and would want it on any deli sandwich. I'll even put some on my grilled cheese sandwiches from time to time. I'm definitely not a fan of it on clubs though.

Speaking of mustard and hot dogs, I always put mustard on my chili dogs. I find it adds a nice touch to the chili.
 

Briar Tuck

Lifer
Nov 29, 2022
1,109
5,737
Oregon coast
Excellent write-up! I haven't had a Club in years. My late mother made them with homemade sourdough bread, sometimes she'd put a slice of homemade dark rye in the center. Man, those were good!.......... I agree on the no mustard, and it's got to be REAL mayo- Duke's or Hellmann's.
And I LOVE CATSUP on my hot dogs........................
Thanks! Sourdough is my usual bread choice for clubs, but I love rye bread, and throwing a slice of that in the middle sounds great.
 

trudger

Part of the Furniture Now
Jan 1, 2019
836
1,966
‘Burbs of Detroit
Wonderful breakdown of a sandwich which I often overlook because of past disappointment. A little history of the sandwich’s origin would be nice. Do our brothers and sisters ROW have this as a menu item?
 
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