The menu at Tender Greens is arranged around a choice of proteins, which you can then get on a plate or as a sandwich. Naturally, I went with the sandwich. The salt and pepper chicken jumped out at me for its simplicity with white and dark meat chicken supplemented with garlic, oregano and thyme. Getting it on a sandwich added roasted red peppers and aioli, but overall I was left with a rather simple sandwich. That presents a higher degree of difficulty, because if you don’t get it right there’s no hiding. And that, it pains me to tell you, is more or less what happened here. This sandwich falls squarely into the wasteland that is “tasty enough,” a kind of gossamer expanse where your mind starts to wonder and you forget you’re eating a sandwich at all. No one eating a sandwich should lose sight of the fact that they’re doing so, and any sandwich that can’t assert itself to the level of consciousness is no sandwich at all. I respect what they went for here, something simple and direct, but it was too subtle for its own good. It could have used the spinach that came on the side, it could have used red onion, it could have used the herbs coming in the form of an almond pesto. It had none of those things, and that left it as a rather unsatisfying sandwich.
I have discussed Food Lab before, and my experience there left plenty of motivation for a return visit. The menu contains a number of sandwiches that sound delicious, and on this day I elected for the curried chicken sandwich, with lingonberry chutney on raisin walnut bread. It comes as described, with a towering pile of what is effectively curried chicken salad. I’m not at all opposed to sandwiches that are mostly a big pile of one ingredient, but this particular sandwich functions less as a delight and more as an exhibit of the need for balance. The chutney was a sweet counterpart to the chicken where it was present, but with that much chicken there just wasn’t enough of it. Spreading it on the top and bottom would have been a good start. Needless to say, the lower notes of the bread are similarly lost to the chicken, which is too bad. Curried chicken, lingonberry chutney and raisin walnut bread is a fine lineup, but it makes a poor show when the chicken reads the lines for all three.