Mar. 4 2012: FOOD: Ike’s Lair offers tasty but overpriced fair

Written by me and Albert Qiu. Originally published:

A trio of sandwiches, from left to right: the Menage a Trois, Steve Jobs, and Aaron Eckhart. Half sandwiches ($4.94 – $6.96) can be purchased if customers want variety, but whole sandwiches ($7.97 – $13.31) are a better deal. All orders are wrapped in paper, and caramel green apple lollipops are included for free. Photo illustration by Yimeng Han.

Having a three-way. Eating Steve Jobs and Aaron Eckhart.

These terms might sound taboo or cannibalistic, but they are merely sandwiches sold at Ike’s Lair, a new shop situated next door to the local Panda Express. The Steve Jobs ($5.95 for half/$8.98 for whole) is in fact, a vegetarian sandwich featuring breaded eggplant, the Aaron Eckhart ($4.94/$7.97) a chicken with BBQ sauce sandwich, and the Menage a Trois ($5.95/$9.99) a not-at-all-sex-related chicken with honey mustard sauce sandwich (sensing a trend here?).

Perhaps the only thing quirkier than the menu items’ names is the store’s color scheme, which is bright and colorful, a mixture of colors upon a stainless steel counters and tables. The atmosphere is more cheerful than lair-like, and the crowd of customers give it a chaotic but enthusiastic vibe. Unfortunately, the limited seating means that Ike’s is not comfortable to be in for extended periods of time.

The first place to visit when you walk in is the menu board, which aside from over 30 varieties of sandwiches (less than other of Ike’s Places), only offers vintage-looking cream soda ($2.00) and store-brand potato chips ($1.50). Luckily, add-ons ranging from avocado ($1.01) to beer-battered zucchini ($1.91) are available, allowing for a certain degree of customization (even “stuffing” sandwiches with onion rings or fried chicken) and customers can choose between four types of bread (dutch crunch, french, sourdough, whole wheat, and gluten-free).

Although the staff was friendly, talkative, and polite even while working through the frenzy of the rush period, waiting times left much to be desired. It’s common to wait 15-20 minutes just to order, and after ordering, you have to stand in yet another line and wait for 10-15 minutes for your name to be called, a tedious process that makes McDonald’s seem like a five-star restaurant by comparison.

The half-sandwiches we ordered were carefully wrapped, but once the butcher paper was torn off, we realized how tiny they were— all three put together only contained as much mass as a Subway 6-inch sandwich, making them a poor deal. However, our opinion instantly changed when we tasted them. The dutch crunch bread, which we ordered with all our sandwiches, was incredibly fresh and absorbed the sauces well. Our favorite was the Steve Jobs, an unconventional mix of breaded fried eggplant, provolone cheese, and oily green pesto that added a splash of flavor. The Menage a Trois (the store’s most popular sandwich), with two sauces and three cheeses was a conglomeration of many different flavors and textures. The lettuce was fresh and crisp, and while the sweet BBQ mustard competed with the nicely seasoned halal chicken, but in the end all worked well together.The only disappointment was the Aaron Eckhart, which was slightly dry and unexciting to the taste buds.

Without a doubt, Ike’s Lair far exceeds the caliber of Subway and Quizno’s. However, the steep price, low quantity, and slow service means that customers might not want — or afford — to make too many trips.

Ike’s Lair is located on 21000 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Suite 100. Operating hours are Monday through Sunday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

{cc-by-nc-sa} Yimeng Han


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