Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: The Spicy Pickle

One of the things about working and living in Houston is that we have to do a lot of driving.  We usually don't live near where we work.  Our friends from church and school can be far flung.  Something we say is "just over there" may be a 20 mile drive on one of our many freeways or major roadways.  In my profession as a Community College and University Professor I have to drive all over Southwest, Central and Northwest Houston.  In visiting Family and Friends, I drive up to Conroe down to Clear Lake, out to Katy and in to West University Place.  Along the way I usually take a good look at my path and observe the restaurants, among other things.  The Spicy Pickle is one that caught my eye.

The Spicy Pickle Sandwich Café is a limited run chain that specializes in unique artisan style sandwiches and flatbread pizzas that have a Mediterranean and Southwest Fusion from my perspective, but the concept that folks in the industry use is "Fast Casual" (Think Panera Bread, Café Express, et. al).  The food is very fresh.  It is full of flavour and spices.  It is very colourful and a delight for the eye of the eater.  And like their name, they give you a pickle spear with any entree that has a spicy yet sour twang to it.

There are two locations in the Houston area.  The one I visited was on I-10 and Kirkwood.  I visited them two different times and had a very nice dining experience at a reasonable price.  During these visits I had their Spicy Santa Cruz Sandwich and their Molto Carne Flatbread Pizza.  So without further ado, here are your meal blueprints:

Santa Cruz Sandwich:
Roasted turkey
cheddar cheese
EVOO chipotle mayo
corn relish
lettuce and tomato 
served on Ciabatta bread
with macaroni salad

Molto Carne Flatbread Pizza:
mozzarella cheese 
and tomato sauce
I added Kalamata olives to it

First of all the Santa Cruz Sandwich was spicy, creamy, the turkey had a moist oven roasted quality, the corn relish was a nice suprise and the bread was nice and crusty as you'd expect Ciabatta bread should be.  A very satisfying sandwich.  The Molto Carne Flatbread pizza had a crispy crust that was slightly charred on the bottom, had a very robust tomato sauce, semi-spicy and savoury sausage and pepperoni, and the cheese was gooey, stringy and had a wonderfully smooth texture.  The bottom of the crust was slightly charred--reminding me of coal-fired pizza, almost.  This pizza was a real treat for me and I am looking forward to trying other varieties of pizzy at The Spicy Pickle.  And speaking of pickles, you will love the spicy pickle spears as a garnish.  It is an interesting mixture of sour dill and picante pepper flavours that is crunchy, cold  and hot all at once.  I need to see if they sell these by the jar because they'd be used at my place as a sandwich garnish or on a hot dog!

The Foodie Professor's Report Card for The Spicy Pickle:

Santa Cruz Sandwich: A-
Molto Carne Flatbread Pizza: A+
Spicy Pickle Garnish: A++
     Friendliness: B+
     Speed:  A-
Cleanliness:  A-
Atmosphere:  N/A

Overall Grade:  A

There are three locations in Houston, TX. I went to the one at:
11611 Katy Freeway
Houston, TX 77079

And Remember:
Eat Happy!!!
Zao an, Y'all!!!

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