The Vegetarian Option: Hannah's Bretzel
Last week, we rounded up 11 of our favorite vegetarian sandwiches in town as part of our ongoing National Sandwich Month coverage. The list was so mouth-watering, it inspired me to go seek out some more tasty meatless sandwiches. I found a treasure trove of them at Hannah's Bretzel.
The local chain of so-called "über sandwich makers" (German soft-pretzel sub rolls, baked in-house, anchor many the sandwich offerings) has adopted the same sandwich assembly-line model seen at places like Potbelly and Subway. Besides the organic breads (whole grain and salted bretzel baguettes—in both regular and low-sodium varieties—are available), Hannah's Bretzel puts its own spin on the concept by using up-market ingredients including grass-fed beef and European ham. Same goes for the six vegetarian sandwiches; you can taste the premium quality of the cheeses, vegetables, and spreads.
The pesto and fresh mozzarella ($8.19) comes with thick-cut slices of tender, milky cheese, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes as well as tangy sun-dried tomatoes, peppery arugula, and a respectable pesto (it didn't quite pack the nutty-basil-garlic punch I look for in the Italian green sauce). With the pillowy mozzarella and unctuous dried tomatoes wrapped in the doughy bretzel baguette, this meatless sandwich is an absolute pleasure to bite into.
Before getting to the other veggie sandwich I loved at Hannah's Bretzel, let's discuss the vegetable barley soup, which is available à la carte ($4.59/$5.39) or as part of a lunch combo with a half sandwich for $9.49. As soups go, it's thoroughly basic—just a light broth, carrots, onions, celery and tender barley—but that doesn't stop the stuff from being pretty darn good.
Yeah, it needs salt, but the base has a wonderful homemade quality to it; the lovingly simmered aromatic vegetables come through loud and clear. Presumably, the lack of sodium in this soup is a deliberate move meant to avoid overloading a diner's palate who also got a sandwich on a salted pretzel roll.
My favorite vegetarian sandwich at Hannah's is the portabella and goat cheese ($8.59), which is presented on the crustier, seed-filled whole grain bread. Juicy slices of portobello mushroom caps, rosemary-ed asparagus, roasted red peppers, baby arugula, white truffle oil, and spreadable goat cheese tucked between the halves. Texturally, the crunch of the asparagus spear pairs well with the easily forgiving marinated mushroom. The creamy, salty goat cheese brings in the mellowing, palate-coating element of dairy that slows your eating and encourages you to savor eat bite. Don't fight it.