The word “garden” should bring to mind something lush, green, fresh. Sadly, the word is too often carelessly thrown around in the naming of restaurants, like “Olive Garden,” “China Garden Buffet,” and so on. And add the Sandwich Garden on McCullough to the list of those guilty of abuse.
While the exterior is something of a portrait of despondence, the small shop and deli has a nice earthy feel inside. Maybe my hopes were too high after I spotted potted plants, flowers, and greenery placed in and outside the shop. The name of the place had me near convinced there was some sort of back-to-nature vibe here with good, fresh ingredients. Old and yellowed San Antonio Light newspaper articles dating as far back as 1977 hung on the wall next to the counter, praising the restaurant’s food and, more specifically, its fresh-baked bread.
Clearly the place has lost its luster.
The sandwich menu is small and simple, and when I visited last week I opted for turkey and cheese. When I unwrapped the wax deli paper and looked down at my tray, I found a massive, hot, gooey bastard of a sandwich staring me in the face. I’m certain I could have gotten over the sandwich looking so unappetizing, because, honestly, I wasn’t looking for much. The sandwich consisted of turkey, lettuce, and tomato, with melted Romano, provolone, and cheddar cheeses. But the ingredients were weak and flavorless.
Then, I realized what made the messy, unholy blob before me so hard to get through — the ingredient that has apparently kept the Sandwich Garden kicking for all these years: the homemade bread. I thought of those decades-old newspaper articles trumpeting what today I found repellent, this bizarre taste, possibly too yeasty, and an off-putting, rubbery texture.
There are a handful of other items on the menu I didn’t have the stomach to crack during my very brief visit, like Sandwich Garden’s homemade potato salad. Godspeed if you feel so brave.
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