Thursday, April 18, 2013

Episode X: Arby's (ATL)

By popular demand, I decided to come to Arby's to check out their Reuben. I am sure all of you have seen the commercials on TV. As soon as I walked in I could tell they take the Reuben seriously. Check out this sign.

That must have been a great photo shoot!

"Thinly sliced corned beef, topped with melted Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing and served on a toasted marble rye bread."

Appearance - (3.7/5.0)
The marbling looks more like a swirl. The first thing I thought about was French Toast, which is not bad but is a completely different flavor profile than a Reuben. I think it will be hard for anything that comes out of a wrapper to score higher than 4.0 but in the words of Justin Bieber, never say never. (Yep, I just wrote that.)

Quality of Ingredients - (4.4/5.0)
I do not think this relatively high score should surprise anyone. I think Arby's would list "sliced meat" as a core competency. This would be a great case study in any business school strategy class. You can just picture the board meeting when the Arby's Chairman of the Board said,
"Alright people, we need growth ideas." And some young associate said, "Why not a Reuben."
"I'm intrigued, go on"
"I mean, think about it. We could get all of the components. Swiss Cheese and Thousand Island are hard to mess up.  And the thing that makes or breaks the Reuben is good sliced corned beef. Slicing meat, that's our jam! The only thing we would have to think about is sauerkraut." The rest is history.
I can tell you the corned beef was tender and tasty. I would not say show stopping excellence but it was well executed. My favorite flavor note was actually the sauerkraut. It tasted like it was straight off of a New York hot-dog. Tangy indeed and they were not shy with it.
Price - (4.7/5.0)
Great deal at $5.99. It was a pretty good-sized sandwich as well. If you have had their Market Fresh sancwiches I would say it is comparable. Like all restaurants, they get you on the drink.

Je Ne Sais Quoi - (3.9/5.0)
The big Reuben sign at the front along with the tangy sauerkraut were really the boosters here. I had the place to myself when I was there. Turns out the Arby's in College Park, GA is not a happening spot on Thursday nights at 8:05 PM.  The ambiance is not really why you go to Arby's. A fast food joint does not necessarily drag down the JNSQ score but it does not exactly boost it either.

Taste - (8.9/10.0)
The taste was superb. Really I think it was just good execution of a Reuben. Hats off to Arby's corporate for producing a consistent product. The only thing that was not solid was the bread. It was warm but not really toasty. This seems to be a consistent problem out there. It seems so simple and yet adds so much to the flavor and texture of the dish. I wish more places would just take the time toast the bread.

Overall - (25.6/30.0)
This was a great Reuben experience. After talking to people about this blog, it turns out there are many Reuben virgins out there. Some people know about the sandwich but have not ordered it, and many of you out there have never even heard of them. In either case I think this would be a good introduction to the Reuben for you. It will also serve as a visible benchmark to the other Reubens out there. Can you beat Arby's? I will definitely be back at Arby's for this and the other varieties of the Reuben they offer.


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