Jimmy John’s isn’t exactly an adventurous chain. Its basic sandwiches are your deli staples, like Italian meat combos, turkey, roast beef, ham, and tuna. Lately, however, it’s been testing the water with limited-time options, like the Frenchie from a few years ago (we thought it was great) and wraps, like last year’s Chicken Caesar and Beefy Ranch, which we had mixed feelings about, plus a Smokin’ Kickin’ Chicken (a vaguely Creole-inspired sandwich) and a Beefy Black and Bleu Sandwich (roast beef and blue cheese), neither of which I enjoyed too much.
On February 28, Jimmy John’s released another new sandwich, called the Zesty Garden Turkey Club. It’s a turkey sandwich with herb aioli, bacon, roasted tomatoes, pickled red onions, provolone, and cheesy panko crumbs, served on the chain’s French bread. On paper it sounds like a pretty decent sandwich, so I decided to give it a spin. Jimmy John’s sent me a sample to try.
I’m going to go right in and say it: while it’s not a revolutionary combination, it’s actually what I’d call a decent sandwich. For the most part, the tomatoes, bacon, and pickled red onions play in the background, and the cheesy panko crumbs don’t add too much, but what really makes this sandwich different from the rest is the herb aioli.
The herb aioli (which appears to just be mayo mixed with fresh herbs), is made in-house, and adds a layer of fresh flavor that you don’t get in any of the other sandwiches. I mostly detected a strong amount of basil, which was very appealing. This is a far cry from a little sprinkle of dried oregano and basil on their Italian sandwiches, which is fine, but those dried herbs can’t hold a candle to the fresh stuff.
The entire flavor combination vaguely feels like a throwback to the 90s, when I remember calling flavored mayo an “aioli” was big deal. So flavorful. So classy. Those roasted tomatoes also feel sort of like a nod to sun-dried tomatoes, which were also popular in the ’90s, but fell off sharply in the early 2000s. I guess the world had enough of both, because they took a fat dump and never really came back in full force, though I do see “aiolis” on menus now and again.
Is the sandwich worth trying at least once? Definitely. It’s enough of a departure from Jimmy John’s usual rotation of inoffensive but reliable sandwich staples, to consider it a treat. Should you stampede over there to grab one? No. But if you’re feeling a little nostalgic for the 90s, put on your flannel shirt and head on over.