Potbelly Sandwich Shop recently opened in Bahrain City Center, and is a much welcomed additon to a niche that had been lacking in the mall; casual but not fast food sandwiches.By non fast food, I mean not Subway. I personally am not a fan of Subway, their ingredients and bread to me taste processed and not fresh. For that reason, I didn’t assume I’d really like Potbelly because I thought it was a restaurant in the same vein. However, I like trying all new restaurants so I decided to give it a try and went yesterday. The place was busy but in a pleasant way, and service was efficient and friendly which meant everything moved quickly. Their menu revolved around subs, original or big size, with a few salad choices that actually sounded pretty interesting to me. They also have some skinny sub options, with less meat cheese and bread, and even the regular subs can be ordered with 1/3 less bread. I ordered a clubby, which was a turkey breast, smoked turkey, and bacon sub on multigrain bread with ranch dressing. You choose any toppings you want, and I got everything which included tomatoes, pickles, spicy peppers, lettuce, mayo and mustard. My dad got the roast beef sub, both of us in big size and we got a side of steak fries. The subs are delivered toasted and cut in half.
Now, I was very pleasantly surprised. The bread was crusty which is how I like it, tasted fresh and the amount of meat and cheese was perfect. The bacon was crisp, which I find to be a rarity in the Middle East, and the serving size was more than sufficient, an original size would have filled me up. The vegetables were crispy and fresh, the meat didn’t taste overly processed or rubbery. Both subs were really good, I usually like roast beef but I actually liked my clubby more. I felt it was juicier and had a more interesting play on ingredients. My one complaint was that both sandwiches were a little dry, I actually felt the need to get some mayo on the side and spread some more on and I’m not even a huge mayo fan. I highly recommend the spicy peppers which are a mix of spicy jalapenos, carrots, cauliflowers. The fries are nothing special, thick cut but soggy. I need my french fries to have a crispy exterior! You are better off going for potato chips if you need a starchy side. I spotted a few people having milkshakes with adorable little cookies threaded through the straws, which made me really want to go back to try them. Another thing on my to try list is their ice cream sandwiches made with their homemade cookies. I tried their oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and it was good. Soft and chewy, nothing outlandishly good but a good cookie if you are craving one. They should look into the addition of wraps or paninis on their menu, something for those who want a sandwich that isn’t necessarily a sub. For two “big” subs, one fountain drink, one snapple, and a steak fries, we ended up paying around 8 BD which is very reasonable.
All in all, for someone who is skeptical of fast-ish food and a great advocate of at home subs, Potbelly managed to surprise me. I left feeling good about my meal, and it’s a place I’ll go back to. If you feel like a fast casual meal and you happen to be in City Center, check it out. You can find their menu here (with a few substitutions for pork items in Bahrain)