Thursday, January 26, 2017

Episode L: Zenzero Kitchen (DFW)

Welcome to the Golden episode of the Reuben Ranger.  L! We made it. Unlike the NFL, we will continue with roman numerals until the end of time. I don’t know why I like roman numerals but I do. Maybe it was traveling through Europe as a kid and seeing the landmarks dated with them or maybe it was in high school when the Y2K was going on and MMs were the candy to have. Any kind of esoteric academic thing that annoys other people, I’m usually all about it.

A lunch date with my sweetie at Zenzero Kitchen was the perfect opportunity to try a Reuben at a cozy little lunch spot in town. I was trying to fight off a cold but I had enough in me to give this one a try.
Here’s to another L to get us to C.

Reuben Panini
“Corned beef cooked in-house with swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Served on jewish rye bread with house-made potato chips”

Appearance – (3.9/5.0)
The Reuben looks great but it doesn’t look like a Panini. I appreciate the toasty bread but it doesn’t look like this sandwich actually met a press. It also does not have the buttery glow of a Panini. When I ordered, I asked for the Reuben and I assumed they were going to bring me the Reuben Panini, but looks like I got the off-menu Reuben. I am ok with that but just seems misleading.

This Reuben is a good example of what happens when good toothpicks go bad. It seems to have split one half of the sandwich in two. Clean cut. Looks like a Samurai went through it. 
The house-made potato chips look great but they block the center cut cross section view.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.6/5.0)
I have to start with the brisket, corned beef. I have mentioned before on this blog that it is gutsy to serve corned beef in Texas.  You could use the same cut of meat, slather it with mustard, sprinkle on a simple salt and pepper rub and smoke it! The corned beef on this sandwich was not thinly sliced but cut more like you would serve a brisket sandwich. The meat had some body to it but was tender enough to pull apart.

The menu stressed in-house corned beef and house-made potato chips but the Russian dressing, for me, is what really had the home cooked flavor to it. So, they either have a really good supplier or they forgot to mention that.  They did capitalize Russian on the menu and did not capitalize Swiss or Jewish. This place could be the Communist Bastian of Texas.  They had me questioning whether or not they actually smoke brisket. Scary stuff…

Price – (3.9/5.0)
$12. You know it is expensive when the menu uses whole numbers. If you worry about numbers to the right of the decimal, you probably can’t afford this place. It is better than the $18 Reuben at City Café but still seems high.  

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.4/5.0)
There was definitely a “Ladies Who Lunch” vibe going on here. It is a narrow space with Euro style tables that run the length of the room. You can find yourself very close to your neighbor and you have to pretend you are not listening to their conversation. There is a fancy coffee machine in the front and you can pick up the subtle scent of coffee from your table. This atmosphere is hard to pull off in North Texas because if there is one thing the metroplex has, it’s space.

Taste – (9.2/10.0)
The non-Panini caught me off guard and it is expensive, but it was good! I might even say it was worth it but only if you order water. If you have to pay for a drink too, now you are up to ~$14. Plus, they make it so easy for you to tip 15% or 18% with the iPad square app, now you are getting close to $20.

The toasted non-pressed jewish rye really set the tone and corned beef was tasty and not over seasoned. The sauerkraut did its job by bringing balance to the dish but not overpowering the other flavors. If the first thing you talk about is the sauerkraut, you have done something wrong.  The belle of the ball is the meat and this Reuben had that down!

Overall – (26.0/30.0)

Would I order it again? Yes (with water).  There are usually more qualifiers when I say I would order it again, but this one I really would. Of all 50 (Arabic numerals!) Reubens, I have yet to have the same one twice. This is the closest to my house and could be the first one I go back for. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Episode XLIX: City Café Dallas (DAL)

I am a food blogger, not a Foodie. I would love to be a Foodie, but with a 5 year-old at home it is next to impossible.  When it’s Danny’s turn to pick where we’re going, chances are we end up at Chick-fil-a.

City Café in Dallas might be just the place to ease me back into the Foodie scene. It boasts menu items like Shishito peppers and Scallopini Milanese (neither of which is recognized by spell check in MS Word) as well as Bliss potatoes, and Shallot vinaigrette.

All of that will have to wait because there is an $18 Reuben on the menu.

Deli Style Reuben
“Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, and Whole Grain Mustard with French Fries & Kosher Dill Pickle Spear”

Appearance – (4.3/5.0)
The first impression is good with clean, crisp lines on the plate. I had a good view of the chef at the window and he seemed to meticulously wipe the edges of each plate before it went out. He must have been ok with the mustard playing peek-a-boo out of that little hole in the bread. The coloring around the hole suggests that maybe the peek-a-boo was initially an eruption that was scaled back for service.

The bread looks perfectly grilled/toasted. If you start from the edges, you see a healthy burn that transitions to soft white, then a golden brown in the middle. Someone had their eye on that bread the entire time.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.7/5.0)
When I heard we were going to this place for lunch, of course the first thing I did was check the menu online to see if they had a Reuben. The description from the online menu matches the sandwich that was served and is what I included above. Here is what the menu at the restaurant had in print, “Pastrami, Rye Bread, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, and House Dressing with French Fries & Kosher Dill Pickle Spear”.

Here is the comparison:
In-person print menu
Pastrami, Rye Bread, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, and House Dressing with French Fries & Kosher Dill Pickle Spear”.

Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, and Whole Grain Mustard with French Fries & Kosher Dill Pickle Spear”

This is a different group of ingredients and I am really curious as to how, when, and why these changes were made.  Have they not gotten around to changing the print menu? The print menu is a standard Reuben. (Corned beef is the classic but Pastrami is an accepted “standard alternative” for lack of a better term).  It looks like they decided to scrap the Rye in favor of Sourdough, go back to the classic Corned Beef, and get rid of the House Dressing to introduce whole grain mustard. Fascinating!

Whole grain mustard is a first for this blog and I had mentally prepared by myself for a mustard Reuben, only to get to the restaurant and find a standard Reuben on the menu. Then the mustard Reuben shows up at the table. Maybe they heard I was coming and were trying to mess with me. This is the burden of food blogger fame.
All of that to say, the whole grain mustard was excellent. The Corned Beef was tender and juicy but the sauerkraut was noticeably muted and tame.

Price – (3.8/5.0)
All week I had in my mind that I was going to eat an $18 Reuben.  That is real money.  When I was living the bachelor life in Boston I used to compare my discretionary expenses to how many burritos I could buy instead. A solid burrito from Anna's Taqueria back in the day was $7.50. So, if I wanted to take a cab back from the bars to Kenmore Square that might be, with tip, ~$15 or two burritos. Was the cab ride worth two burritos, or would I be better off walking home and treating myself to Anna’s the next day? I did this all the time to help make decisions.  I don’t eat at Anna’s anymore but I still try to use this thinking. Today I might think of a monthly payment to Netflix or a trip to Sonic to get Danny ice-cream but the process is the same. Using this logic, I don’t think this Reuben was worth $18.

This is a nice place that is ideal for a business lunch.  It has double white table cloth, good service, and you even get your ketchup served in a personalized gravy boat.  They also should get credit for making what can be a very messy sandwich into something you can eat in front of your boss. All of this seems to be what you are paying for because the sandwich itself falls short of the price tag.

Did I mention there was no pickle spear on the plate? I don’t even like pickle spears but for $18, I am going to want to see it.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.2/5.0)
This place was pretty clean cut and mystery free. The biggest curveball was probably the jalapeños in the calamari.  The single biggest JNSQ killer for this Reuben was the Sourdough bread.  A strong caraway seeded Rye is a risk, so when you see plain bread that is perfectly toasted it signals you are entering a safe space.

This rings especially true because they showed their hand! We all know that at some point they had Rye and decided to do away with it and it didn’t stop there. They got rid of the dressing and went with mustard.  I think the classic Reuben was too much to handle for the business lunch crowd and they had to dial the JNSQ way down.

Taste – (8.8/10.0)
Putting aside the menu confusion, it was a good sandwich.  The sauerkraut was not strong and it could have used that acidic kick.  In my opinion, this is another effort to transform the Reuben into something you can put on the tame business lunch menu.  The saving grace was really the Corned Beef and the mustard. The texture of all of the little whole grains was a new Reuben experience I really enjoyed. 

Overall – (24.8/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes, but not the next time I go. There are other things on the menu I would like to try before I go back. I also want to hear the story of why they made the changes.

Sometime the scoring rubric does not suit a Reuben well and that is the case here. It was not a bad Reuben, but a risk-averse product is going to have a tough time racking up a high score here.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Episode XLVIII: Subway (DFW)

The Reuben is having a moment right now courtesy of Subway. They tried launching it a few months ago and I tried two different locations and was unsuccessful each time. The first one was “out” and the next week when I tried another location the promotion had ended.  Arby’s tried to push the Reuben a few years ago and I reviewed it in Episode X, but the Subway commercials are ubiquitous. 
My phone started blowing up with messages from friends, family, and fans (ok, so maybe it was just my dad) asking when I was going to try it. I couldn’t let my fan(s) down and decided to give it a go.

Corned Beef Reuben
“Corned Beef, Bavarian Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Thousand Island on Rye bread”

Appearance – (3.2/5.0)
Safe to say it doesn’t look like the commercial. I should have asked for double meat and told the lady to make it look like the commercial. This is the “new” Rye bread but you can’t really tell. It is not marbled and the caraway seeds are too small.  Once Danny took the bag of Doritos off my plate it just looked strange sitting next to the side order of banana peppers.

Quality of Ingredients – (3.9/5.0)
I was suspicious going into this review. I know Subway has spent lots of money trying to rebrand with local produce and the new logo, but I still wasn’t sure, especially about the sauerkraut. You may remember the last Reuben had some issues with the sauerkraut. Well, turns out it was not bad. I don’t know what Bavarian style sauerkraut is, but I like it. That seems like something that would be hard to replicate in so many Subway shops around the world. It is such a volatile ingredient.
The Rye was actually pretty good once you got past the lack of visual cues.
The corned beef was also not bad either. What I appreciated is that it was not too salty and seemed to have some good body to it. I thought it would be as flimsy as the thin cut turkey but it wasn’t.

Price – (3.9/5.0)
The sandwich itself was $5.75 but you throw in chips and you are closer to $7.25. Most of the other places I try include fries or a side dish so to keep the comparison fair, we will go with $7.25. Given the small portion size I don’t think it is a great value.  Not to mention, I was in a Subway in Coppell. You are not exactly paying for ambiance.  There are two minimum-wage teenagers providing labor under high efficiency light bulbs.

Also, most of the time after a Reuben, I don’t have to eat the rest of the day.  That was not the case here. This Reuben was just like a normal meat so the cost per calorie was high.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.6/5.0)
The JNSQ is low here but it didn’t have to be. There is a great little donut shop just down the road that I go to almost every Saturday to get donuts with Danny. It is not much to talk about. It is literally a mom-and-pop operation with one table. What I love about it, beside the donuts, it that their windows are filled with the posters of all the local high school teams. It gives the place a real small-town feel. Subway didn’t have that. It was more of a planned corporate environment.

Taste – (9.3/10.0)
Despite low scores up to this point, this was one of the better tasting Reubens out there. It really was not bad at all and there are a few reasons why. 

First off, the bread was toasted and was not covered in butter. The butter problem was really starting to feel like an epidemic. This is probably why I wasn’t so weighed down after the meal. The absence of butter really let the Rye flavor come out and I really liked that. Second, the balance of ingredients was right on. This is a benefit of a corporate environment.  You can have anyone behind that counter and it should come out the same every time so kudos to Subway for good operational execution. Third, the temperature was just right. They toasted the bread and melted the cheese perfectly. Look at this shot.

There were no unforced errors and no toothpicks!

Overall – (23.9/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes.  Really? Yes, I would. I thought I would need to pack in the banana peppers to save it but it wasn’t necessary.  I had those for dessert.

This is another good introduction Reuben. I have so many people tell me they have never had a Reuben. This is a good place to start. If your deli/pub can’t beat this then they should probably rethink having the Reuben on the menu.

Thank you to Subway to helping push the Reuben to the forefront of pop culture.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Episode XLVII: Cindi's New York Delicatessen (DAL)

After a long summer, the weather finally broke in North Texas. Mary Alice and Danny were out of town and I had a beautiful fall morning to myself, so I went for a run. There is a great network of trails in town and I just felt like running. Before I knew it, I had been out for an hour and worked up quite an appetite.  Next on the docket for the day was to try a Reuben. There were a couple of places in town that popped up when I searched for delis in Dallas, and Cindi’s was at the top of the list. They have a few locations around Dallas and the menu seemed very legit. 
I walk into the deli and I take a seat at the bar…

New York Reuben

“Choice of Corned Beef, Pastrami, or Turkey Grilled on Rye with Sauerkraut, melted Swiss Cheese and Russian Dressing on the side”

Appearance – (4.4/5.0)
Wow. I don’t even know where to start. There is a lot of food here. I really appreciate that they cut the Reuben and put the cross section on display. You can clearly see the melted Swiss, lots of corned beef, and even more sauerkraut (more on this later). This, like other Old World Reubens, has the dressing on the side. They also threw in some slaw and more sweet potato fries than I could eat. I don’t fancy pickles but it rounds out the deli presentation.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.0/5.0)
Take another look at the sauerkraut. There is lots-o-sauerkraut on the Reuben and…. it was not the best. (even more to come later). The corned beef was very good. I don’t think you would have multiple Cindi’s around DFW if they didn’t, so something right on the meat.   I found myself picking it out of the sandwich and eating it solo. I like the rye bread, no-nonsense rye here. It tasted like rye and there were no unnecessary swirls or marbling.  The Russian dressing did not really knock my socks off. It is almost an afterthought on the plate.

Price – (4.2/5.0)
This whole plate was $10.95. I think that is pretty good. I ended up taking home almost all of the fries. We are in North Texas here, home to the $30k millionaire, so things can get expensive for no reason.   But we’re still in Texas. Things are big and cheap.  

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.5/5.0)
This was not quite like some of the Old World delis I have been to in Chicago and Cincinnati for this blog, but it has its own character. When I walked in, there was a counter with all kinds of bagels and treats around. You can order some bagels from the counter or you can sit down for traditional table service OR you can sit at the fully stocked bar! I went for the bar. 

They have pretty much anything you can imagine at the bar as far as liquor or beer. I kept it simple with a club soda. There was an old lady to my right and she did not seem too interested in small talk; she was pretty occupied with her game of Candy Crush. The guy to my left was a regular and asked for his usual breakfast. It was corned beef and hash with a side of pancakes, and he ate everything! The rest of the place was filled with old people and young families alike. Truth is, I took a seat at the bar because there was a long wait for any table.  It is a great little place and it is worth reading the story of Cindi’s.

Taste – (8.7/10.0)
Great looking plate, fun place, good meat, but the sauerkraut really killed this one. Have you ever bought a big jar of sauerkraut? There is lots of (acidic) liquid in there.  I can tell Cindi is putting lots of time and effort into the corned beef, and I appreciate that. If she wants to go store bought with the sauerkraut, that’s ok but she should probably go easy on it. They really piled it on. Maybe they could just put it in a dishtowel and squeeze some of the water out like you do with frozen spinach. Anyone knows that if you don’t squeeze all of the water out of the frozen spinach you are in trouble. 

I took matters into my own hands and flipped the sandwich upside-down.  The sauerkraut dripped through the bottom bread, so that was gone. The open faced Reuben with the Swiss cheese, corned beef, and generously applied Russian dressing was awesome. There is potential here for sure.

Overall – (25.8/30.0)
Would I order it again? No. I want to come back here but I want to get the corned beef hash the guy next to me had. I already know they have the whole corned beef thing down, so that makes it a relatively low risk choice. Cindi’s story is real-deal American dream and I’ll be back for sure.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Episode XLVI: D'Lox (ELP)

Wedding Season!

The whole family was back in El Paso to cap off the 2017 Wedding Season.  One great thing about being home is that there is no shortage of babysitters for the little guy. I love spending time with Danny but it is nice to get out on a date every once and again.

I started looking for Reubens online in El Paso and it was not easy to find one. Lots of the pubs and bars you would hope would have one simply didn’t. So what did I do? I asked my mom.  She told me about D’Lox, a great place where she meets her friends for lunch and she knew first hand that they had a Reuben.  The only difficult part was trying to understand her over the phone saying D’Lox.

Spicy Reuben
“Shaved corn beef & sauerkraut on grilled rye. Served with imported Swiss spicy Reuben sauce.”

Appearance – (4.0/5.0)
Lots of fries and there is a Reuben down there somewhere. These are what I like to call Country Club fries. The El Paso Country Club has these and I can remember eating them in the club house as a kid. They have that extra egg batter on them and are super good.

You can see there is lots going on once you get down to the Reuben,  visible sauce, good cross section of meat, and non-uniform cut sauerkraut. There is only one toothpick and at least it is easy to spot. The bottom half is stabilized by the top half and the toothpick is holding the top together. It seems to be functional but I would just like to think the sauce is enough of a binding agent/adhesive to keep everything together.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.4/5.0)
I was very pleased with the quality of everything on the table, even the lime wedges they brought me for my water. The sauerkraut tasted fresh and was not bitter or too acidic. I don’t think anyone sells Spicy Reuben sauce so I assume they make it in-house.  It wasn’t spicy but still awesome in its own right and seemed to be homemade.  The little pepperoncini pepper had a good snap too. I don’t think anyone makes those so it is a good test to see how much they are willing to spend on pantry items.  

Price – (3.8/5.0)
$12.00! I know this is the Westside of El Paso but it is still El Paso. $12.00 for anything in El Paso that does not have a T-bone in it is expensive.  The portion is generous and it includes lots of fries but it is still steep.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.8/5.0)
This is the place in El Paso for ladies who lunch. The décor is warm but I thought the music was just a bit too loud.  As much as I don’t like toothpicks in my food, at least this one really calls your attention to it. It is adorned with a pickle wrapped around a pepper.  If that doesn’t say El Paso deli, I don’t know what does.

I was let down just a bit by the lack of spice. If something is advertised as spicy on the border you expect them to deliver.  This place is relatively new and definitely not around when I was growing up. I like that El Paso keeps growing and adding cool new places.

Taste – (8.9/10.0)
I could tell from the first bite that this was going to be a great Reuben. The only thing that kills me is the soggy buttery bread. This is turning into a theme on this blog. My theory is restauranteurs are trying to mask the flavor of the rye bread to market the Reuben to the masses. I don’t understand it. I found a stray Caraway seed and it was great all by itself. The rye flavor is there but you lose some of it with the butter.

Now the butter can be good to add just a bit of flavor and give the bread a nice color on the grill but that is it. The butter should be a condiment or garnish, not an ingredient. This is not a grill cheese where the butter is pretty much the reason you eat the sandwich.
The shaved corned beef was just tender enough where you could pull it apart but still had enough body to give it great flavor. If you pull up to a Texas meat market, walk away with a huge brisket, and don’t plan on turning it into barbeque, you better have a good plan. I would say the folks at D’Lox did the brisket proud.

Finally, the non-spicy sauce really brought everything together. Sometimes the fat kid inside of me just wants to devour something when it is good. I really have to pace myself, put down the sandwich, take a drink of water, make eye contact with my wife, try to pick out something from the last thing she said and ask a follow-up, then throw in a “is that right?”. You get the idea. This was a good one and I had to remind myself to go slow and enjoy it.

Overall – (24.9/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes, if I was coming for a weekday lunch AND I would ask the chef to go easy on the butter.  I don’t know if I would order it again if I came for a weekend brunch though. It would be hard to pass up the crab benedict or even the chilaquiles. 

Reubens might be hard to find in ELP but they are great when you do.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Episode XLV: The Grill House Cafe (DAL)

It can be tough being the new guy. I have been at this new gig for almost a month, but I’m still learning all the new-guy stuff. Where this room is, what that means, who reports to whom, etc…  You also get friendly people who want to get to know the new guy and even take him out to lunch. That was the case here, as one of my co-workers invited me out and, of course, found a place close by that has a Reuben.

Grill House Reuben
“Corn beef piled high, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, Swiss cheese on grilled rye bread”

Appearance – (4.1/5.0)
Pas mal. Ignore the ticket in the basket for a minute and look at the distribution of meat. Almost looks like a diagram out of a geology textbook showing a cross-section of a mountain. The corned beef is the rock and the Swiss cheese is the snow cap. The Parmesan cheese on the fries is puzzling. I wasn’t sure what it was until I tasted it. At first I thought they had gone nuts with the fancy sea salt in an attempt to boost their Quality of Ingredients score. The score could have been higher without the ticket, but there are no toothpicks and good cut-and-show presentation.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.2/5.0)
It turns out it wasn’t sea salt and the Parmesan was actually the weakest link here. The bread was great if only because it was not soggy the way the last two have been.  The cheese held its own, and I would not be surprised if they told me the Thousand Island dressing was homemade.  I don’t think the meat was made in-house judging by the uniform pieces and cuts, but it was still a solid product.

Price – (4.6/5.0)
$7.45. The cost of living in Dallas is great. There is a ketchup dispenser on each table and free refills on the drinks.  It is super close to work and the service was quick. Overall, this is a great value proposition. You do drive right by a Whataburger to get here though. I really love Whataburger. I thought that maybe, after being back in Texas and eating it a few times, the novelty would wear off. Nope. Still love it and eat it probably more often than I should.  This Reuben definitely gives the #1 with cheese a run for its money.

The best part is that my co-worker picked up the tab. The big boss at work has this thing where he wants his managers to have lunch together and has challenged us to get out there and network. As a result, this was a “working” lunch. So thank you to The Man for picking up the tab.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.0/5.0)
I checked out the website before we went, and I really thought this place was going to be fancy. Afterwards, I realized I was looking at the website for Grill House Café in San Diego. That place is Mediterranean (I managed to get close enough to “Mediterranean”  for spell check to know what I was going for. The worst is when even spell check can’t figure out what the heck you are doing.) Anyways, this place is more mom-and-pop than I expected, and I liked it. It is pretty unassuming from the outside, located in a strip mall just off I-35E. When we got there it was pretty empty but had filled up a bit by the time we left. The folks in there seemed like regulars too.

Taste – (9.0/10.0)
It is nice to know I have a great Reuben close to work. Remember how disappointed I was with the Coppell Deli that was so close to my house? (My editor really thought I let them off the hook for the sub-par Reuben there). This Reuben really was fantastic and it is the simple product of good ingredients and even better execution. Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start. The bread has to be good, and it was. It was toasty and crunchy!  This is really the only chance a Reuben has for a contrast of textures. The contrast of flavors is all over the place by design, but if you don’t have toasty bread, you’re done.

This Reuben was also not too salty. The weird fries and the out of place stack of pickles were not as good as the sandwich itself. I think you can hold the pickles on a Reuben plate. I am sure the cook in the back has been told to put pickles on every plate as it comes out. I will work out a cheat-sheet for him next time to help him out. We can barely get young people to eat Reubens as it is, and they want to start showing them with pickles.

One of the other reviewers on Yelp mentioned the homemade sauce and I believe it. The Thousand Island for me really did make it.

Overall – (25.9/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes.  Even if it meant driving by a Whataburger to get there? Yes. It was that good and it is even better knowing that I have it close by.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Episode XLIV: Coppell Deli (DFW)

Moving to a new city is stressful. Moving in general stinks. Whether it’s moving from a dorm room into storage, or moving a three bedroom house halfway across the country, nobody likes to move. You have to take the good with the bad though. One good thing about moving is that you have a new city to explore. I really look forward to scouring all of North Texas looking for the best Reuben. Coming off a great farewell Reuben in Highland Park, I was excited to try my new hometown deli here in Coppell.

The Coppell Deli has been around since 1944, but was really put on the map by the Dallas Cowboys during their Super Bowl-winning years. The seller’s agent of our soon-to-be home in Coppell even mentioned it as one of the selling points of moving to the neighborhood. I had high hopes going in, and Father’s Day weekend seemed like a great time to try it out.

Reuben Sandwich
“Corned beef w/Sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on Rye”

Appearance – (3.7/5.0)
This one did not make the best first impression. Once I realized those were actually Caraway seeds and not ants marching around the edge of the Rye bread, my attention was grabbed by the renegade 1000 Island dressing that escaped. I was wondering if this sandwich would have dressing when I ordered it because the 1000 Island was not listed on the menu. Maybe they were just trying to surprise me.

This whole sandwich has short-order cook written all over it. This makes sense once you see the menu and realize this places serves breakfast. My theory is that the 1000 Island is usually dispensed out of a plastic squeeze bottle with a single tip. For whatever reason, the 1000 Island got put into the squeeze bottle with a tri-tip. The tri-tip bottle should really be used with caution. They are relatively new and are really designed more for food trucks. I cannot be certain that this is how it happened, but I can only assume.

Quality of Ingredients – (3.6/5.0)
The quality was really not that great. They don’t advertise anything homemade or made-from-scratch. It seems to be a store bought Sysco operation. I wouldn’t say anything was poor quality but nothing really top-shelf either.

Price – (3.8/5.0)
The sandwich plus tots was $11.49. This is not super cheap, even when you consider the other items on the menu. For that same price you can get a bacon cheeseburger.  For less than that you can get a Patty Melt or even a Gyro! I realize Coppell has some high property taxes and they have to pay the bills, but this seemed steep for the product and compared to what else was on the menu.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.2/5.0)
This place was saved by the JNSQ and it starts when you walk in the door.  The walk from the front door to the register passes through what looks like a walk-in fridge stocked with beer. It had a pretty good selection, too, anchored by Shiner, of course. It also had lots of TVs which made watching Euro2016 easier.  I was afraid a Texas Deli made famous by American football would not have soccer on TV. I was happy to be proven wrong. Texas has changed quite a bit in the 13 years since I left.  The Reuben itself did not spark much curiosity other than trying to spot the tri-tip dressing dispenser.  

Taste – (8.1/10.0)
The Reuben is all about how the ingredients come together and balance. This Reuben was almost impossible to score because I could literally not get my hands around it. I reached down into the basket and for the life of me could not find the bottom bread. The top bread was toasty and firm and I was momentarily relieved that I would not have another soggy Reuben to deal with. Unfortunately, I then realized that I had reached the bottom of the sandwich but the bread was so soggy I couldn’t differentiate it from the moist corned beef. I had to eat this Reuben with a fork! That is a first for this blog. I think the short-order cook had the Reuben on the flat top, squeezed some water around it and covered it with a hood to melt the cheese. It looks like he used the tri-tip too...

The taste was largely consistent with the ingredients. It was ok, nothing spectacular. I ate the whole thing so that must say something.

Overall – (23.4/30.0)
Would I order it again? No. I have to say I was disappointed that what is probably the closest restaurant to my new place does not have a decent Reuben. I do want to come back and try the breakfast and the Gyro for sure. 

This place also has a liquor license and TVs, so I can see myself escaping here to grab a drink and/or watch a game in the future. The menu has standard bar apps and the tots were great but I think it’s impossible to mess up tots. They have to be the most standard food out there. There seems to be only one maker of tots that supplies every restaurant and cafeteria in the world. From Napoleon Dynamite’s cafeteria to the Coppell Deli, they are all the same. 

The Ranger is coming for you North Texas.