Potbelly: A Welcome Grab-And-Go Option

Those looking for a quick lunch in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square now have an option other than burritos.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop opened its first Connecticut location in Blue Back Square in early October, bringing with it "good vibes, great sandwiches" according to menu.

The vibe: A get-in-line, place-your-order, assembly-line kinda joint. A giant chalkboard menu with all your options greets you when you walk in, and a big "order here" finger helps you navigate your way. The staff is great at knowing people may be visiting the chain for the first time.

An open ceiling exposes painted pipes, and such Connecticut-centric paraphernalia as a UConn banner, a state flag and a table with the Whalers' logo decorates the interior.

The food: The menu includes toasted sandwiches, soups, salads, shakes and smoothies. There's also cookies baked fresh daily. The 11 sandwich choices include Italian, pizza and the grilled chicken and cheddar, which I had on multigrain bread.

They asked me if I wanted bacon or mushrooms on the sandwich; I opted for both. The bacon had good flavor. Here and there I got a strong bite of pepper, but the chicken was cooked well and the sandwich was filling. Side options include macaroni and potato salad that you grab from the cooler or a bag of chips, which are about $2 extra,

There are five salad options ranging from greens topped with chicken salad to a salad called the "A Wreck," which is covered in salami, turkey, ham and roast beef. My friend had the Uptown: grilled chicken with grapes, apples, cranberries and blue cheese. She said it was flavorful and refreshing.

Dressing options include three vinaigrettes and buttermilk ranch. Soups change daily aside from chili and New England clam chowder.

For options of the liquid variety, Potbelly serves up shakes and malts made with hand-dipped ice cream. You can choose one flavor or mix a few: vanilla, chocolate, coffee, Oreo, banana, mixed berry and strawberry.

The bill: The chicken sandwich was $6.10, but the bacon was $1.35 extra and the mushrooms (which I couldn't taste very much) were 60 cents. The chicken salad was $8.20, side of potato salad $1.85 and a regular fountain soda is $1.80. The total bill came to $21.16.

The particulars: Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The verdict: There aren't too many grab-and-go sandwich places with a comfortable eat-in option in the Center and Blue Back Square, so Potbelly is a welcomed addition.