mr. pickle's, 20th & south van ness, san francisco
As I mentioned yesterday, I noticed the other day that Mr. Pickle's in the Mission had recently introduced a number of new menu items. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll probably understand why this is THE BIGGEST SANDWICH NEWS OF 2011 THUS FAR. My love for Mr. Pickle's and their unpretentious & deeply satisfying sandwiches is extensively documented. So it was with great excitement that I arrived yesterday at lunch time to get a peek at the new menu. How does it rate? Well, there are 11 new menu items, bringing the total number of sandwiches on the menu up to 31 (the new menu items also brought an increase in price of most of their sandwiches by about a dollar, but I'd say Mr. Pickle's remains totally affordable). Most of the 11 new menu items are fairly unadventurous- there's now a grilled cheese, a PB&J (& PB&J variation with honey, nutella and marshmallows), a cheesesteak, and a couple of different chicken sandwiches that feature teriyaki sauce. If I had to guess, I'd say that Mr. Pickle's was attempting (in a dorky and pretty endearing way) to compete with Rhea's and their domination of the Dolores Park picnic crowd. This theory is supported by the fact that Mr. Pickle's now offers tofu as a substitute for chicken, as well as veggie meatballs and veggie bacon. But perhaps the strongest evidence in support of my theory is the most interesting new sandwich on the menu, unfortunately named "The Hipster". The fact that they named this sandwich "The Hipster" pretty much says it all about how uncool (and therefore awesome) Mr. Pickle's is: no hipster wants to proclaim their hipsterness, and so naming a sandwich "The Hipster" is like the exact opposite of what you'd want to do to try and steal away Rhea's clientele. The composition of this sandwich is also a clumsy attempt at imitating the creativeness of the more conceptual sandwich shops in the neighborhood: "The Hipster" features chicken, teriyaki, peanut sauce, pepper jack, sprouts, red onion, tomato and mayo ("Recommended as is", proclaims the menu). As you can imagine, this crazy combination of ingredients resulted in an appropriately crazy flavor. The most prominent taste was the peanut sauce, which was nice and nutty. The teriyaki wasn't obvious, but between the teriyaki and mayo, and lack of any counter flavors, this was an extremely sweet sandwich. I thought there was maybe more cheese on this than the usual for Mr. Pickle's sandwiches, and the pepper jack melted nicely into the gooey mass of the sandwich, bring a nice little bit of spiciness. I wouldn't call this sandwich a total success, and probably won't be ordering it too often, but it wasn't a disaster either. I doubt Mr. Pickle's will succeed in convincing anyone that their attempt at Asian-inspired sandwiches compares to the Korean Steak at Rhea's, but die-hard Mr. Pickle's fans like myself ought to be pretty happy with the new menu. And now that I've finished this review, I'm going for day 2 in a row of Mr. Pickle's, because life is too short not to (and life is especially short if you eat at Mr. Pickle's multiple days in a row!).