The Wild Wild West – Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop, N. Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, CA

The Wild Wild West at Mr. Pickles is roast beef, ham, horseradish, provolone cheese, and avocado. That’s a list of ingredients I wouldn’t think to put together, but for whatever reason it struck me as the sandwich to get. I’m not going to dwell on that, though, because the story is elsewhere. As is my custom, when the people at Mr. Pickle’s asked me if I wanted everything on my sandwich, I answered in the affirmative. Everything, I learned, was the polar opposite of the inadequate minimalism of The Garret. Here’s what was added to the sandwich: G-Sauce (a garlic sauce of some sort), mayo, mustard, pesto, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and peppers. Looking at that list, it has a stealthy sort of insanity to it. A quick glance and you might miss it, but dwell on it and you’ll realize that something isn’t quite right. The pesto gives it away. Pesto? Pesto is part of your everything? Pesto is an appropriate addition to all of the sandwiches you sell? That just isn’t reasonable. I respect the right of every sandwich maker to go about their craft as they see fit, but I know where the bounds of propriety lie and I have no problem telling you when you’ve crossed them. Pesto? On everything? Pesto? I just can’t quite get my head around it. The G-Sauce is another red flag. If it were there on its own it would be a risky trademark, but in conjunction with the pesto it signals that someone involved took “everything” far too literally.

But lets ignore, for a moment, the concept at play here. Low-grade lunacy it may be, but is it at least well executed? Sadly, no. The pickles and peppers could best be described as “scattered,” the lettuce and tomato similarly sparse. Do they want these things to be part of the sandwich or not? If they’re going to include them then thought ought include them, instead of telling me they’re going to and then leave me to hunt them down in a sloppy mess. And it was sloppy, whatever the G-Sauce is made of it joined forces with the mayo to send the top half of the sandwich sliding all over the place.  I can respect someone who gives a 3 out of 10 concept everything they have, but there’s no forgiving poor execution of a lousy idea.

This was a weird sandwich. The avocado was completely obliterated. When the horseradish was present the sandwich almost seemed to come together, but then the next bite would be all pesto. The pickles and peppers played similar in-and-out games. I tried to make sense of it, but eventually I just had to throw my hands up. I would like to note, though, that the bread was really, really good. A sourdough roll of unknown provenance, it had a hearty crust and some really great flavor. Even given the racket it played host to, the quality of the bread made for a small redemptive note in an odd, odd symphony.

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