Subway needs little introduction. The ubiquitous submarine sandwich chain, which began its journey in 1965 as “Pete’s Super Submarines”, now has almost forty-five thousand stores spread across 112 countries. India had to wait until 2001 to get a taste of Subway, but since then the chain has expanded rapidly and hit the 500 mark last year. So, I was a bit surprised when I received an invite from Subway India to experience something different. However, the moment I stepped in through the doors of the Subway location I was invited to, I could feel the difference.
Subway Cafe in Banjara Hills is the first of its kind in Asia. The typical functional and compact format of a typical Subway restaurant is eschewed in favour of an upscale Cafe ambiance with comfortable seating and modern decor. With urban youth and young professionals thronging to Starbucks in the tier-1 cities of India, it’s quite obvious what Subway is trying to do. Subway wants to see if it can move up the ladder through a careful recalibration of the Subway experience. While the QSR format will continue to be the focus of the brand, the exclusive Subway Cafes will offer an alternative, enhanced experience to the urban consumers.
The Subway Cafe features the usual repertoire of Subway subs including recent additions like Peri Peri wraps. However, it also offers a lot more. They’ve Croissants (good, but the center was a tad soggy) and Hashbrowns (not crispy enough for me – crust needs work). They’ve Coffee, both hot and cold, in a range of formats. I tried their flavoured lattes – Cinnamon, Hazelnut, and Gingerbread. The Hazelnut was my favourite, but all three were really good. The Coffe has been priced quite reasonably – a 475ml (large) serving of latte is priced at just Rs. 140. If coffee is not your thing, you can also indulge in a range of herbal teas. Some of the flavours I tried were Peppermint (quite a strong flavour – almost a palate cleanser), Rooibos Orange (fabulous – citrusy, sweet, with a hint of bitterness) and Rosehip Hibiscus (a tangy herbal tea that’s more rosehip than hibiscus). If you want something more decadent then you’ve a range of Milkshakes, Sparklers, and Smoothies to choose from. Very Berry and Pulpy Mango smoothies were really good. They also have desserts like Fudge Nut Brownie, Tripple Layer Chocolate Cake, Cookie Blast Cake, and Carrot Cake. I tried the Carrot Cake and it was yum. There was a bit too much of chocolate icing on the top, but the cake was gooey and indulgent and sinful.
I was a bit disappointed that the Cafe didn’t feature any new sandwiches. The exclusive, swanky format of the Subway Cafe affords it the room to play around more with ingredients that might otherwise not appeal to the masses. On the whole, I was quite impressed by the Subway Cafe. The range of coffee and tea options make it the perfect spot to go and relax alone or with friends.