Man Food: The Unforgiven from Seven Subs

You've walked by this Coolidge Corner place countless times—but is it any good?

All photos by Katie Barszcz for Boston magazine

We’ve all walked past it during our jaunts in and around Coolidge Corner—but who’s actually bothered to stop in to what looks like nothing more than a stand on the side of the road? Meet Seven Subs. Lazily describing it as a “hole in the wall” wouldn’t even be doing it justice. It’s even less than that. It’s probably best served in the warmer months; despite there being no inside space to eat in let alone walk into, there are a few tables and chairs set up adjacently if you choose to “dine in.” But when you’re in need of a sandwich fix, below freezing temps need not apply, and luckily a quick stop here even during the most frigid of days turns out to be a good move.

Being as indecisive as ever, I opted for two small subs: The Lucky 7 and the Unforgiven, two of their most popular sandwiches, I was told. The Lucky 7 (above) is claimed to be “the one that made us famous,” with a combination of oven-roasted turkey, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing. Unfortunately, I immediately got flashbacks to the poorly-crafted sandwiches I used to take for lunch as kid. It’s over-mayo’d, and the turkey gets lost in a pool of Hellmann’s that does little to evoke the often underrated Russian spread. Though the homemade coleslaw remains crunchy, the whole thing is more or less all slapped together without much fanfare or dedication.

Much more successful is the Unforgiven (above), a deceptively simple combination of roast beef, potato salad, and barbecue sauce. I devoured this one pretty quickly; the still rare and rosy red beef is perfectly tender and bold thanks to a good hit of black pepper, and pairs nicely with a very tangy barbecue sauce. It’s tough to tell if the sauce is homemade or not, but that’s irrelevant because it works. The potato salad is barely held together by a thin coating of mayo, and becomes a nice touch despite sounding like an odd addition. The potatoes are cut the right size and cooked the right way. They’re soft yet firm, and thankfully warm, so they don’t make the sandwich as cold as it could have been. The bread on both subs is a standard sub roll, it’s warm and toasted, not too crumbly, and far from being overly bready either.

The subs at Seven Subs are more than affordable, with all of the large varieties ringing in under $7. Everything is cooked to order but arrives quickly, which is extra beneficial especially when it’s the dead of winter. While the “famous” Lucky 7 is nothing more than a boring turkey sub slightly dressed up, the Unforgiven is a flavorful sandwich that doesn’t need a boatload of unnecessary toppings to be effective. Roast beef, a solid barbecue sauce, potato salad, and provolone cheese are more than adequate to make me crave this one again and again. It’s nothing flashy, but it is damn good.

Seven Subs, 1 Centre St, Brookline, 617-232-7070,