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Fast Times: Murphy's Deli California Panini

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When I stopped into Murphy's Deli and ordered the California Panini, the woman taking my order looked incredulous. "There's no meat on that, you know! It's only vegetables!" she said to me with a scrunched-up face. I assured her I was aware of the contents, and that I would take my chances. I was hoping that a veggie sandwich on thin panini bread would hit the spot ... and if a veggie sandwich on thin panini bread was what I had received, it just might have.

Instead of a grilled flatbread, this sandwich comes on a squared-off version of a sub roll, and close inspection did not reveal any grill marks--odd, since it took about seven minutes to receive the sandwich after ordering. The bread wasn't crusty, nor was it totally soft like a sub; the outside was aspiring to crusty, and the inside was a soft, but unremarkable white bread.

You know what else? There aren't that many veggies on the sandwich. Considering that the bread is substantial, I could have gone for twice the amount, but instead there was a sprinkle of alfalfa sprout, a smattering of tomato, and a thin layer of spinach and roasted red peppers. Considering they double up on cheese--American and provolone--and add pesto sauce and guacamole, this ends up feeling like a sandwich in reverse. It's too bad, because if you stuffed this bread with a lot more veggies and thoroughly toasted it, it could be a really nice alternative to the usual quick burger.

The one thing the sandwich had more than enough of was onion. I'm not shy about raw onion, but without anything but a few veggies and some bread to temper the sharp flavor, it was way too much. I pulled off most of the onion, and the flavor left behind was more than enough for me. On my way out the door I got a peek at Murphy's Deli salad bar, which had lots of bins full of fresh, colorful veggies, as well as a tempting little pasta salad. The panini is a no-go, but I may have to return and give the salad bar a shot.


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