O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar in Athlone

the inside of o'brien's sandwich bar in athloneAthlone has a lot of good places to eat. The Irish sandwich bar is something of an institution in this country, although the prevalence of ham&cheese with coleslaw sandwiches have diminished significantly in the face of Ireland’s growing economy and fast-expanding palate.

The O’Brien’s Sandwich bar franchise is a real Irish success story. They’ve got shops all around the world at this point. I should point out that, in general, I’d tend to avoid franchise food chains because I like variety – franchise homogeny detracts from the experience for me.

a sandwich, bag of crisps and iced mocha served at obrien's sandwich barMoving swiftly onwards – there is an O’Brien’s Irish Sandwich bar in Athlone and I stopped in for lunch the other day with el-Rob-o.

It’s not my first time here. My mother-in-law will always make a point of coming here for their vegetable soup every time she visits (O’Brien’s soup and Supermac’s garlic chips are two Irish things she looks forward to). The place is always busy, the servers generally friendly and fare consistent. I have found their sandwiches to be excellent, and today’s was no exception.

I had a turkey and brie with cranberry sandwich which was served toasted and in 4 triangles. I also ordered a bag of crisps (I always forget Irish sandwich bars sprinkle a few crisps on your plate anyway) and – as it was a warm day – an iced mocha.

o'brien's sandwich bar fixings with bagels in the foregroundI’m not wild about their iced mochas – I keep forgetting and ordering them anyway. In general I dislike coffee, but I needed some caffeine and find that if you serve coffee ice cold, drown it in milk and sweeten it to a ridiculous extent it becomes reasonably drinkable. In my coffee-hating opinion, O’Brien’s mochas tend to be badly blended – they separate very quickly instead of maintaining the desired milkshake-like consistency that cloaks the unwanted coffee element. Also, rather than fill up the rounded lid with sweet whipped cream, they simply squirt a megre dollop of unsweetened whip cream on top. Hey – I’m ordering an iced mocha – load me up on that sweet, sweet whip cream, won’tcha?

In any case, what if I told you that my O’Brien’s lunch of a sandwich, a bag of crisps and a drink cost me €10.65?

I mean, I could have had a pub lunch for that.

Colour me not impressed.