Saturday, March 7, 2015

Episode XXXV: Manny's Cafeteria and Delicatessen (MDW)

So there I was, in the Second City the day after my birthday.  The night before I was able to meet up for drinks with friends from high-school, business school, and my past life in Boston.  It had been a great night until I came home and my wife told me she sprained her ankle and could not walk. She couldn’t even make it to the bathroom and I had to carry her. She couldn’t put any weight on it and I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. Our three-year was not going to be happy about his Mama being sidelined.

That morning we hastily arranged a trip to spend the week in San Antonio with my family. The extra help would give my wife time to do physical therapy and give Danny a chance to hang out with his Abeula. The injury itself was not serious but brought back lots of bad memories. It was a bad weekend to forget my Celexa in Atlanta but sometimes a Reuben is just what you need to cheer you up. 

All along this blog has been an outlet for me, an escape. It is something to keep me busy and remind me not to take myself too seriously.  A trip to Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen in the shadows of the Chicago skyline is exactly what I needed.

Corned Beef Reuben
Stuffed with corned beef, grilled with swiss and sauerkraut, with 1000 island on the side.

Appearance – (4.2/5.0)
I have been critical of “your grandpa’s” style Reubens before. They are the type that piles high the beef just for spectacle. Manny’s piles it high but it looks great, once you move the huge potato pancake out of the way.

One thing that caught my attention was the marbling of the fat in the meat. We are usually referring to rye on this blog when we mention marbling but not in this case. It looks almost like prosciutto. You can see each thin slice of corned beef has just a sliver of white fat running through it.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.6/5.0)
 Spared no expense. (For the first, I don’t know, 15 years of my life, when I watched Jurassic Park and the old guy kept saying “spared no expense” I thought he somehow found a way to get it for free. As if he found a way to spare the expense and did not have to pay for it. I kept thinking to myself, how did this guy build an entire dinosaur theme park for free? How many favors did he call in?)

Well Manny spared no expense in making this Reuben, particularly the Corned Beef. They have slicers going non-stop and it produces this mountain of meat. I was amazed to see all of the guys behind the counter still had all of their digits. I was concerned at first at what kind of 1000 island dressing would come on the side in that little plastic sample cup but it was great. All of the pieces were in place for a great Reuben.

Price – (3.9/5.0)
$14.95! That is not cheap but I think it was a good value. For one we were in Chicago $$$, they do provide free parking $$$, the potato pancake along was enough to fill me up $$$, and the portion was huge $$$.  So all things considered, it wasn’t crazy expensive. This also may be the only Reuben I did not finish. I took one half home to my temporarily-immobile wife.  My father-in-law picked up the bill so I was able to spare that expense.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.7/5.0)
The guys behind the counter at Manny’s seem like they have been doing this for a very, very long time. These guys are flipping plates, throwing meat around, directing traffic, all while automatic meat blades are flying all around them. It was a great little place. A true old-world experience that you can tell the folks of Chicago are proud to call their own. 

They also seem to be very proud of the fact that a cow burned their city to the ground. We drove by UIC on the way to Manny’s and their mascot is the Flames. The MLS team is the Fire, and they embrace the Second City. I think it is one of those things where they can put it out in front to get it out of the way. Kind of like when you tell your co-workers about a stain on your shirt before they see it themselves. 

Taste – (9.6/10.0)
Not bad at all! I found myself opening up the Reuben at one point and just eating one strip of Corned Beef at a time. It was so good. The dressing on the side worked well because it allowed me to control how much of it I wanted. Turns out, it is also great for dipping with the potato pancake.

The Swiss cheese was good but it was not freshly melted by the time I got it. They pre-grill the rye bread with Swiss and sauerkraut and when you order the Reuben, they fork it open and pile in the Corned Beef. It keeps the line moving but you do lose just a bit of flavor by having the Swiss, sauerkraut and bread just sitting around.

Overall – (27.0/30.0)

Would I order it again, yes! Although I would want to go with a big group so we can all order different stuff. The menu is huge and there were lots of things I wanted to try. The Matzo Ball soup looked great, the pastas, even the liver and onions! It is the type of place you just don’t see that much anymore and I am glad I got to go.   
Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Episode XXXIV: Hudson Grille (ATL)

I have been in the ATL for almost three years now and I am officially an ITP (inside-the perimeter) snob. These days I am more likely to cross I-285 in a plane rather than a car. I am not totally opposed to going OTP but at least it is a conscious decision these days.  So when I got an invitation from the Holy Cross Club of Atlanta to go to the Hudson Grille in Sandy Springs I was willing to make an exception.

 New York Deli Reuben
Half-pound Certified Angus Beef® corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss, 1000 island dressing, toasted rye

Appearance – (3.8/5.0)
It is toothpicks like these that show how much work this blog still has to do. One day the Reuben Ranger’s aversion to toothpicks in food will be so well known that they will just disappear. It is now painfully obvious that no one at the Hudson Grille has read this blog before. You could kill a vampire with one of those things.
Good job on grilling the bread and getting a nice color on the crust but not enough to salvage a high score from this food blogger.

Quality Of Ingredients – (3.9/5.0)
 The quality was fine. I got the vibe that everything in the kitchen is vey controlled and regulated. This is a chain so I am sure there are corporate standards for everything that comes out. More on this cookie cutter approach in the JNSQ section.

Price – (3.9/5.0)
$10.95 is an ok price but maybe a bit expensive for an OTP venue. This place is huge and there are lots of TVs everywhere so I can see they need to cover costs. At least the fries were included with the Reuben.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.6/5.0)
The Hudson Grille is a great place and sells itself as a gathering place for large groups and I can see why.  The Holy Cross event was actually hosted by the Bucknell Club of Atlanta, which invited the Holy Cross Club out.  The two schools were facing off in basketball that day in probably the only nationally broadcast game of the year for either team. I think we outnumbered the Bucknell folks 3:1. We took over the event. Holy Cross lost but no one was really watching. You don’t go to Holy Cross for the sports.  We manage to pull off a big upset in a few sports every once in a while and that is good enough for us.

The Reuben suffered from a lack of imagination. It seemed like it was built by a robot. I am sure the beef was prepared to exact internal temperate and put in the flat for an exact amount of time. The sauerkraut was probably pre packaged at corporate and the dressing was probably dispensed by one of those caulk guns that ensures the exact amount was used.

A lack of imagination can kill a Reuben. If you have read Guns, Germs, and Steel, you are familiar with the Anna Karenina principle.  Here is the description from Wikipedia:

The Anna Karenina principle describes an endeavor in which a deficiency in any one of a number of factors dooms it to failure. Consequently, a successful endeavor (subject to this principle) is one where every possible deficiency has been avoided.

In Guns, Germs, and Steel the author references this principle to explain why there are so few breeds of domesticated animals.  All domesticated animals needs certain traits. Animal demeanor is one of them and Zebras are mean buggers that otherwise would have been great to domesticate. Gazelles are too jittery and would rather ram themselves to death against a wall than stay fenced in. All domesticated animals are alike but each wild animal is different.

I had just finished reading this book when I had this Reuben and I think the same principle applies to Reubens. All good Reubens share many traits but the absence of one of them can mean doom.
o   Each Reuben needs to have some moxie, needs to be created with love and imagination

-          Strong individual components
o   Corned beef has to be a quality product and seasoned just right
o   Sauerkraut needs to have just the right Ph
o   The rye needs just the right caraway flavor, too much is lethal
o   Thousand Island is a cool binding agent that does not dominate the show
o   Swiss cheese half the time just has to show up. A flimsy slice won’t do it.

-          Balance
o   It is hard enough getting the five individual ingredients just right but balancing the portions is even harder

-          Texture
o   Tender beef
o   Toasted bread
o   Melted cheese

-          Correct temperature
o   Have you ever had a leftover Reuben? Probably not. If I don’t finish it then it is not worth bringing it home and trying to reheat.

When I left the Hudson Grille I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about because there was nothing overtly wrong with the Reuben. I still can’t quite put my finger on it but it just lacked heart. Each piece of beef was a uniform dimension, the sauerkraut was made for the masses, even the fries were just kind of there. The whole Reuben was just a bump on a log.

Taste – (8.2/10.0)
The Reuben tasted fine. It did not exactly knock my socks off but it was fine.

Overall – (23.4/30.0)
Would I order it again? No.  I would definitely go back to the Hudson Grille especially to watch a game but I would order a burger or wings.

It was great seeing my HC buddies and I am glad I ventured OTP.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Episode XXXIII: Midway Pub (ATL)

On January 24, 2009 my wife and I got married. Last year, for our five year anniversary, we went to go see the Spurs and Hawks play here in the ATL. The Spurs only come to town one night a year so we had to go. This year, for our six year anniversary, I suggested we celebrate by getting a Reuben. She went along with the idea. What a gal!
So off we went to the Midway Pub to do some hipster people watching and enjoy an anniversary dinner.

“house roasted brisket roast, swiss, sauerkraut, thousand island, rye -also available with turkey or soysage”

Appearance – (4.8/5.0)
This has to be one of the better presentations I have seen in some time. The stacking is nice and it is a subtle way for the kitchen to communicate that they put some time into the dish. The fry cup is cool too. The paper overflows from the cup creating the illusion of overflowing fries.  It is tough to tell from the picture, but when you look really closely you can see the tiny bits of diced onions and pickles in the Thousand Island dressing. That to me says it is homemade and got me excited to take my first bite.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.6/5.0)
The ingredients were first-rate (thanks Shift + F7) but it was the execution that brought out their quality. For instance, the rye bread did not have artificial marbling but it was grilled with just the right amount of butter to give it some flavor without overpowering the caraway. They also got just the right amount of toast on it. It was the same story with the Swiss cheese. The melting point execution was perfect, which means it was melted but not to the point of it getting messy or too thin.

The corned beef was high quality meat but it was the seasoning that let it shine. There will be more on the seasoning in the taste section. That is what we in the business like to call a teaser.

Price – (3.9/5.0)
I have to hand it to my editor on this one, she pointed something out that really affected the price score.  The fries were not included with the Reuben. One look at the receipt confirmed that this was in fact the case. The Reuben was $9.00 and that beautiful overflowing fry cup was $1.50. This just seems bizarre, almost un-American.

I am hoping to be able to hire a summer intern for the blog this year. I could give him/her  assignments like putting together an analysis for the owner of the Midway Pub showing that they would be better off including the fries with the entrees if they charged an additional x.  The take rate would be y but given the margin of z it would be worth it. If you know anyone that would be interested in this unpaid position, let me know.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.8/5.0)
Welcome to East Atlanta. Hipsters own this part of town and we definitely got a few looks when we walked into the pub with a cute 3 year old. We may have made it too obvious that hipster people watching was on the agenda. Here is the thing with hipsters, and they would never admit it, they like the rest of us making fun of them. That is why they do what they do. When we make fun of them, they make fun of us making fun of them. We don’t get it but they do and that is what they think is funny. So really it is a win-win.

Taste – (9.3/10.0)
This Reuben was perfectly seasoned. Normally the rest of the day after eating a Reuben I am pounding glasses of water to counteract the huge amounts of salt that are in a typical Reuben. This one was proof that you don’t need an excess of salt, in fact, some places just assume if they put enough salt on it they don’t have to pay attention to the other details.

I spent my summers as a middle-schooler canoeing and backpacking in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. Any backpacker will tell you how important spices are to a campfire meal. You have to carry all of the food you are going to eat for the days you are out. The spices are light weight but powerful.  We used to fight to see who would get to carry the spice kit in their backpack because you could smell it throughout the day on the trail. It kept you going just thinking of the jambalaya you were going to eat that night.

Anyway, that is my way of saying that the Reuben was delicious. The Thousand Island had to be homemade and the sauerkraut understood its place in the world as a loyal, but tasty, sidekick.

Overall – (26.4/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes. I don’t think I would go again with Danny just because you can still smoke out on the patio but the smoke seems to make its way into the main dining room. There are lots of TVs and the beer list is impressive. I would really like to come back here to watch soccer. You can tell from the décor that they have some serious soccer fans as regulars. First time in my life I’ve see an Atlanta Silverbacks scarf.

East Atlanta, thank you for the hospitality.
Midway Pub on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Episode XXXII: Front Page News (ATL)

Before we get into the blog I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the events that have occurred in Paris recently.  I have to admit that I take the Freedom of Expression I have for granted. I can’t imagine what it feels like having to worry about the serious consequences of your expressions.  This blog is an outlet for me, an escape.  It is an excuse to go to new places and meet new people. I value the privilege it is to bring all of you this blog freely.

I think my high school hero Astérix captured this best. I went through a Francophile phase back then. Maybe that explains why I ended up at UVA with fellow Francophile TJ. Anywhere here is the link.

Back to the blog:
This blog was originally going to take place at the Brewhouse Café. We walked in at 11:55 AM on a Sunday morning and asked if they were serving the lunch menu yet. I told the hostess I wanted to order the Reuben. She said no and said I would have to wait 35 minutes in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. My Tommy Boy chicken wings attempt fell flat so we left.
Just down the street was Front Page News I knew they had a Reuben and verified it was on the brunch and lunch menu. We had a winner.

Turkey or Pastrami Reuben
“Grilled marble rye, oven roasted sliced turkey, or deli style pastrami, sauerkraut, 1000 island dressing, Swiss cheese ”

Appearance – (3.8/5.0)
More toothpicks, blah, blah, blah.
You have heard that before but let’s talk about pickles for a moment.  I am not a fan of dill pickles. Kroger has this really good hot-and-spicy variety, but that’s about it for me as far as pickles go.  I don’t think people who like pickles are bad people; I am just not one of them. I have gone to great lengths on this blog to talk about the complexity that is the Reuben and pickles are just not part of the equation. 
Pickles can serve a purpose as an aesthetic garnish on the plate but they should never, ever, touch anything else. The first thing I thought of when I saw this was, “oh no, that bite is going to taste like pickle juice”.  Maybe it is not that big a deal, it’s just the tip.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.7/5.0)
How ‘bout that pastrami?  It had enough body to mix with the other components but it had a great pepper kick. It looked pepper crusted to me. I know pepper is part of the spice mix that goes into the preparation but this one seemed to be dominated by it. 
Here is quick recap on the differences between corned beef and pastrami. 

This sounds strange but the ingredients kept their temperature well. Stick with me here. Sometimes when you’re eating out with kids, you get distracted and can’t eat your food right away. This often leads to not being able to enjoy your food when it’s hot. It is part of being a parent. This time out was no different but this sandwich never got cold. It was so strange. I couldn’t tell if it was where I was sitting, how it was constructed or what, but the ingredients aged well.

Price – (4.7/5.0)
Wow, $8.99.  There are some $12, $13 Reubens out there, so it is nice to see such good value. I also got a killer Bloody Mary for $6, which I think is reasonable for a weekend brunch. An unbelievable Bloody Mary bar is at your disposal if you want to build your own. I am still a beginner when it comes to brunch cocktails so the 100+ item Bloody Mary bar was a bit intimidating. I deferred to the bartender who came through for me.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.6/5.0)
Front Page News is a great little place and I am happy to have discovered it.  The previously mentioned larger-than-life Bloody Mary bar is only the start. There is a huge patio, tons of TVs, and, perhaps the best part, is the model train sitting on top of the bar calling your attention to the loft-high ceiling. We asked our server, Angie, if she could turn it on.  She said the manager that knew  how quit two months ago and no one has been able to figure it out since. I bet if you offer an EE from Tech a free beer he/she could figure it out in 5 minutes tops.

Taste – (9.4/10.0)
No ketchup test necessary here, this was great. The only thing I can think of was a bit too much butter on the rye bread. It took away from the classic rye taste. Other than that the marriage of 1000 island and sauerkraut was on point. The Swiss was just enough to cool some of the spice from all of that pepper on the pastrami and the fries were solid.  Bravo!

Overall – (27.2/30.0)

Would I order it again, Yes! Great Reuben all the way around. The pepper on the pastrami was so good I don’t know if I would be willing to try the Turkey variety.  I will be back for sure to try my hand at the Bloody Mary bar and get me another Reuben.
Front Page News on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Episode XXXI: Meehan's Atlantic Station (ATL)

The Reuben Ranger is back! My apologies for taking so much time off between entries. I can only imagine the difficult decisions my readers faced not knowing whether or not to order the Reuben.
I have a new job and the busy season is the fall. That is behind us now, kind of, and I should have some more time these days to get back into it.

Lisa, my learning team buddy from business school, was back in town this week.  We went out after work and it gave me a chance to get back in the game.  You may remember Lisa from Episode IX. She is no stranger to the blog.

I found myself back at Meehan's this time in Atlantic Station. Episode XV was at Meehan’s in Vinings. It was expensive, but I went back to edit the blog when management got back to me explaining the price.  I don’t know if this location is under the same management, but I found myself ordering another very expensive Reuben.  The description on the menu is slightly different from the Vinings location and I was excited to see how this one would match up.

Corned Beef Reuben
“Heywood’s Provisions corned beef with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on marble rye”

Appearance – (3.7/5.0)

Well, this has never happened before. I don’t have a picture to share with you. I took one, I did. I don’t know what happened to it.  Danny has become more adept recently at accessing pictures on my cell phone. I am going to blame him for deleting them. I realize now that I could never be a novelist.
First impression of the plate was good before I spotted what appeared to be Nacho cheese coming out of my Reuben.  I looked up and realized I was sitting under a nice stained glass lamp that was giving everything underneath it a yellow hue. Crisis averted. It was in fact overflowing Swiss cheese and I am completely okay with that. 

As much as I have talked about toothpicks there was a new wrinkle with this one.  The Reuben was cut in half then one half was placed on top of the other at an angle.  Then a skewer was piecing both of them to keep them aligned. I can appreciate that some effort went into the presentation. The fries fill out of the rest of the plate and the portion seems generous.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.5/5.0)
The Heywood’s Provisions corned beef was not as good as I remember it from the Vinings location but just as expensive (I’m adjusting for one year of inflation).  The flavor was good but it was not as tender. It was the end of the night so I don’t know if this was the end of the batch. It is locally sourced and I think the underlying product is a good one but it could have been prepared a bit better.
The Swiss cheese was very good and the sauerkraut Ph level was just right.  Nothing special about the fries, straight off the Sysco truck and into the frialator. 

Price – (3.1/5.0)
$13.00. Lisa was nice enough to pick up that tab on this one. Thank you big consulting firm, but $13 bucks is $13 bucks. I come to Meehan’s Atlantic Station all the time to watch the Tottenham Hotspurs play. 
Come On You Spurs!

The weekend buffet they set up for Spurs games is solid and only $7, and that includes the coffee!  That’s a good price for two hours of entertainment plus a great buffet. I don’t want to give the impression that Meehan’s has a poor value proposition because that is not the case. The execution on the Reuben needs to be better, though, to charge that much.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.6/5.0)
Late on a Wednesday night this place was almost empty.  For some reason our host still decided to sit us next to the only other occupied table; we pretended not to listen to each other’s conversations. The vibe when I come on game days is great. There is a small but loyal group of Spurs supporters.

The sandwich itself did not have much of an X factor. The marbling on the rye also had me stumped. I could not line up the patterns between the two halves of the sandwich. Did they cut the bread then flip one half before putting it together? Maybe they knew I was coming and wanted to game the system and boost their JNSQ score. Mission Accomplished.

Taste – (8.8/10.0)
Despite the lack of tenderness the overall taste was good. I didn’t comment on the Russian dressing at the Vinings location and it wasn’t very noticeable on this one either. Sometimes when the sauerkraut is too pungent the dressing can cool it down.  This sauerkraut was just right so the weak dressing becomes less of an issue. 

The sandwich did pass the ketchup test. About halfway through the meal I dip the Reuben in ketchup to see if it tastes better or worse. A Reuben is complex enough and if it taste better with ketchup then something is wrong. This one did not taste better with ketchup so the fundamentals were there.

Overall – (23.7/30.0)
Certainly not the highest score, but decent. Would I order it again? No. As I mentioned, the breakfast/brunch food is great and I’m sure if I go there again during lunchtime I can find a burger that would be just a bit better than the Reuben. I look forward to many more early mornings at Meehan’s cheering on the Spurs!

Meehan's Public House on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 1, 2014

Episode XXX: Izzy's (CVG)

World’s Greatest REUBENS.  Those words are prominently displayed on the menu at Izzy’s in downtown Cincinnati. Quite the billing that really sets expectations. I was in the Queen City for my brother-in-law’s bachelor party.  My reputation as a Reuben blogger now precedes me and the Best Man, who organized the weekend, was nice enough to suggest this place.

Before we could start daytime drinking across the river in Northern Kentucky, we needed a solid protein-rich meal. Izzy’s was just the place to get the party started.

Izzy’s Famous Reuben
“This is it! Our savory sandwich piled high with Izzy’s famous corned beef, sauerkraut, Izzy’s special dressing, and melted imported Swiss cheese.”

Appearance – (3.9/5.0)
How about that potato pancake? I believe that is a first for this blog. I thought it was a funnel cake that was missing powdered sugar at first. The Reuben itself is ok, no marble on the rye but the seeds are visible.  The bread is not toasted and I think that is to keep it pliable so it can hug the mini-mound of meat underneath. 
I don’t know why they do this center mound instead of evenly distributing the meat.  It reminds me of the probability exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science.  If you drop a marble from the same spot each time and let it work its way through the Plinko studs, you are going to get a normal distribution.  Never fails.

This must be how they construct the sandwich.  Here is the conversation each trainee gets on day one.

“Drop the meat 6” above the center of the bread each time
“But what about the sides?”
“Don’t worry, it will look Normal when you’re done”

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.2/5.0)
There are lots of homemade ingredients on this sandwich which is good for quality.  The corned beef is a secret family recipe they slice to order.  Izzy’s special dressing was solid and the sauerkraut also tasted homemade but the menu does not confirm that. If you are taking the time to make your own ingredients it’s usually because you think you can do it better than what you can find off-the-shelf.

Price – (3.5/5.0)
I ordered the whole for $8.79 which includes the potato pancake but does not include the drink. When it came it looked like I may have gotten the half.  I think I could have gotten a bit more meat for the whole. I almost walked out of the place without paying. They don’t bring you a check; you just tell the guy at the register up front what you had when you pay. I was so excited to get across the river that I had one foot out the door when my brother-in-law stopped me and told me I had to pay. Honest mistake. I never accept free meals from a place. I think it is essential to keeping the integrity of this blog and in keeping with the highest journalistic standards that I continue that policy.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.4/5.0)
I have to go back to the potato pancake on this one. What?!? We hit this place just after the lunch rush so the atmosphere in there was pretty calm. It was cool being in a place where people think so highly of Reubens. Downtown Cincinnati is also a great city to walk around and has a nice vibe.

Taste – (8.5/10.0)
World’s Greatest REUBEN? That may be a stretch. World’s greatest potato pancake is more likely. I kept waiting for that bite where my head would explode and I would say out loud, “Wow, this is the world’s greatest REUBEN.” It never came.  Very tasty for sure and most of all it was good execution of all of the Reuben essentials. Good meat, good cheese, put together well, etc… but they may have set the bar a bit too high. Where can you really go from there?

Overall – (24.5/30.0)

Would I order it again, probably not the Izzy. I would come back to try one of the other Reubens they have on the menu. Part of the fun of this blog has been seeing how the Reuben can be reinvented and reinterpreted. The classic is tough to do really well.  There was a Skyline Chili place right down the street so the opportunity cost of trying another Reuben is high.  Overall it was a good experience and I am glad we were able to squeeze it into the weekend.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Episode XXIX: Bennett’s Market & Deli (ATL)

It has been a while since my last post but it was not for lack of effort. I tried to order a Reuben at the Brewhouse Café during a US World Cup game. The place was too crowded and I ended crossing the street to buy a taquito at 7-11. A few weeks after that I had been bumped to first class on my flight from ATL to ELP and they were serving Reubens! By the time the flight attendant got to me they were out and I had to order the Asian chicken salad. So the month of June came and went without a Reuben Ranger blog post.
Back to today. My wife and I had been meaning to try Bennett’s Market & Deli. They dropped a flyer on our front porch and I had driven by it a few times. They claim to be “Your Neighborhood Market”. Grant Park is already a great neighborhood but imagine if I could add a go-to deli within walking distance.  

Classic Reuben"Corned beef on marble rye with melted swiss cheese, sauerkraut & russian dressing”

Appearance – (3.8/5.0)
There is nothing crazy going on here; low risk, low reward. The construction seems to be neat and contained. When you get up close you can see the caraway seeds in the rye.
If the marbling in the rye were an ink blot, I don’t know what my answer would be. Maybe this is the control slide they put out before they show you the butterfly.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.3/5.0)
The traditional deli counter display lets you see all the different meats. It looks like an old-world deli and the quality of meat lived up to the expectations. The corned beef had enough body and flavor to stand up to the rest of the sandwich. One ingredient I don’t talk about much in this section is the Swiss cheese.  This one had thick cut cheese and it was very good. Too often the Swiss cheese is just a box to check but it can really add something. The sauerkraut was lacking kick.

Price – (4.1/5.0) 
It was $7.99 for the “Atlanta” ¼ lb Reuben and $0.99 for the chips. It is not cheap but considering it is a mom-and-pop I think it is reasonable. They also do a good job of making the meal an experience. There is a bevy of imported specialty foods all around the store. I even had a Mexican Coke with my Reuben. It was fun to walk around and see everything they had while I waited for my food. I factor all of this into the score.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.5/5.0)  
I really liked this little place. It makes me happy to know it is in the neighborhood and is doing well.  The lady behind the counter was very nice and even came out to play with Danny when we were done eating. It has only been open since 2013 but has the old country charm. There is exposed brick and ductwork.   

The sandwich itself was interesting as well. It had been put on the press just long enough to toast the bread and melt the cheese but not long enough to warm up the meat. I thought it was genius. Foodies talk about contrasting colors and textures all the time but not so much temperatures.

Taste – (8.8/10.0)

This Reuben had lots of things going for it but not enough to break into the 9s. Most notably lacking was the sauerkraut. New-age Reubens like to substitute out the potent sauerkraut for more universally accepted coleslaw. This sauerkraut was lacking the strong vinegar taste Reuben fans have come to love. The Russian dressing was also muted. The corned beef and Swiss was enough to make this a very good Reuben but it could have been even better.

Overall – (25.5/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes. My wife had the BLT and it was good but the Reuben was good enough where I would forgo my other options. Maybe next time I'll try the Greek salad, but the next time I order a sandwich, it will be the Reuben. 
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