Sandwich City: Quickie Pickie

 
 
Quickie Pickie
1208 E. 11th St. (map). 512-479-0136, www.quickiepickieaustin.com.
Hours: 7am-12am Mon-Fri; 8am-12am Sat-Sun.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.26.13
 
There are lots of places to get a great sandwich for $8. This is not one of them.
 
And that’s too bad, because Quickie Pickie has charm. The kind of charm that comes from converting a dingy convenience store with a busted sign and wire grates in the windows into an artisan showcase of sorts: two dozen beers on tap and several times that in the retail coolers, racks of smart wines, an exterior armor of bright mosaic wood and a patio like a sidewalk cafe. The words “Quickie Pickie” shine from the eastern wall like a sunrise in the precise hand of sign painter Joe Swec. A shadowbox of a kitchen works with an ambitious menu of migas, breakfast tacos, rotisserie chicken, codfish beignets, goat sliders, sandwiches and special Indian Night dinners.
 
But underneath the wistful trappings is a sandwich from a former gas station that tastes like a sandwich from ... a gas station. That was especially true of three cold offerings, most especially for a “Fancy Pants” egg salad. For $8, it was a hard white sandwich hoagie with soggy mixed greens, limp tomatoes and a vague schmear of chalky egg salad with a “black truffle” presence so vague it defied being listed among the components. Eight bucks, no sides. And it was presented to me wrapped tightly in butcher paper even before I could pull out money to pay for it. Given the sorry state of the greens and tomatoes and the cold rigor of the bread, I’d say it was premade. If not, then the fresh line has issues of its own.
 
There wasn’t enough of the main ingredient on a pimento cheese sandwich called the Cold Comfort ($7). It was more like a condiment than a keystone, albeit a perfectly good condiment. Slices of green apple were a nice touch, bringing some sweetness and snap to a sandwich otherwise on the sloppy side, with those same defeated greens, an affliction that spread also to the Early Bird ($9), made from QP’s roasted chicken. With soft character and a clean flavor line but no big personality of its own, the chicken drew strength instead from spicy-sweet tomato confiture, the kind of relish that energizes its host with acid and in this case, a glimmer of heat. But again, I needed more than just a painted-on trace for a sandwich that didn’t meet its value obligations.
 
 
(ABOVE, from left: The Yippie sandwich. The provider of the poppyseed roll has since gone out of business. Quickie Pickie is now using bread from Sweetish Hill, a cashier said. The Early Bird Chicken Sandwich. The front patio is like a sidewalk cafe.)
 
Given the questionable company it keeps, there was one sandwich here as good as it was unexpected. The Yippie ($7) was a robust all-veggie agitator, with sweet creaminess and a Mediterranean twang from fresh eggplant puree and the fire and snap of a giardiniera made with cauliflower, carrots and bell peppers, with a spiced vinegar acidity to balance the eggplant’s conciliatory purr. The Yippie gave the impression of right-this-minute prep, with crisp, dry greens and a soft poppyseed roll, a roll that has since been replaced, because its creator — Baked in Austin — went out of business in October.
 
The Saltimbocca ($9) sandwich also marked a positive turn, with pork so clean and lean it could have masqueraded as turkey, an illusion fostered further by the fall spice of pear chutney and sage, backed up by a rich current of gruyere cheese and prosciutto.
 
A lot of places have nothing but cold comfort for the smallest among us. But at the QP, a baby was sitting at one table, and the staff flashed smiles and made faces until it squealed with delight, making Mom and Dad beam. In this context, I want Quickie Pickie to thrive, to be a neighborhood go-to for kashi and Counter Culture coffee, for a pint of Rogness Ost or a Butterface cake jar. And a decent sandwich with something on the side, even something small, like a few tablespoons of coleslaw or some chips and a tiny cup of salsa. They have the pick-up part down solid. The sandwich part? It needs the same makeover that turned an old gas station into a destination.
 
(TOP, clockwise from top left: The Quickie Pickie bar, with two dozen beers on tap. The Cold Comfort pimento cheese sandwich. The QP features bright, modern graphics and a multicolored woodwork facade. The Saltimbocca pork sandwich. Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
 
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