Thursday, July 11, 2013

Episode XVI: TechOps Hangar Cafe (ATL)

I stuck my neck out in Episode XIV and said I liked the employee cafeteria. What did I get in return? A very half-hearted effort at making a Reuben. So when I recently transferred to a new group outside of the main campus, there was a new cafeteria to try. I was told it is even worse than the one on the mother ship. The new place does have a Reuben so it was only a matter of time before I tried it. I rounded up my new set of co-workers and off we went.
Georgia Reuben"Over Roasted Turkey Breast, Sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian Dressing"


Appearance – (4.1/5.0) Simple presentation but I like it. I have not talked about this in a while, but look at the marbling on the rye. It looks natural, not CAD produced. You also have some overflowing turkey meat and the sandwich is cut in half. One detail I thought was very thoughtful was that they put the pickle underneath the butcher paper. I like pickles as much as the next guy but I don’t like pickle juice to come in direct contact with my Reuben. The pickle is back in the shadows waiting its turn, not shoving its way on stage.

Quality Of Ingredients – (3.2/5.0) The individual ingredients were ok. The bread came out of a bag, the turkey was standard cold cut deli, and same thing with the cheese. The Russian dressing was great but I do not think it was homemade. All of the right ingredients were present and accounted for.

Price – (4.4/5.0) At only $4.49 this was a deal.  The portion was kind of small or what people outside the US would call “normal”.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.8/5.0) I was excited to eat this sandwich. I am going to be at this job for at least a year and if I can get a good go-to Reuben that would be awesome.  This was also Jeff’s first Reuben. It was also cool to see them put it through the Quizno’s style toaster.   

Taste – (8.3/10.0) Wonderful Reuben taste to it. The conveyer toaster toasts the bread and warms the sauerkraut but it does not have enough energy to heat up the meat. It was weird to get a mouthful that was half warm and half cold. The Russian dressing did its job and held the sandwich together but it swallowed up the Swiss cheese.  They were placed on the same side of the sandwich.  I prefer the layering to be as follows:
Rye Bread

It is all about achieving that perfect bite. You need a little bit of everything in there and if the sauce is too close to the cheese and just swallows it up you are going to miss out.  I made the adjustment myself and kept eating.

Overall – (23.7/30.0)I will be sure to come back and order this again.  The portion control also makes me feel a little bit better about eating a Reuben.  This may only be like 550 calories as opposed to a good 800-950 like others on the blog. Next time, I think I will ask them to assemble properly and maybe even take a second go-through on the toaster. I cannot speak to the rest of the food at this place.  I admit, it looks suspect but the Reuben is well executed.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Episode XV: Meehan's Public House (ATL)

The rain held out just long enough in Atlanta this year to get in the Peachtree Road Race. It was my first time running so I was happy to get my Fourth of July off to a good start. I did not want to complain about the rain the rest of afternoon so I thought I would go get a Reuben. Meehan’s Public House in Vinings it is.
A Reuben on the Fourth? You bet! It may not seem American but it is. There are competing accounts of where the Reuben originated, but both claim it happened here in the U.S.A.  So Happy Birthday America!
Meehan’s Corned Beef Reuben
“Heywood’s corned beef, Swiss Cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, on marble rye”

Appearance – (4.6/5.0)
Very nice. Fans of the blog know I do not like toothpicks and I may have said that a Reuben with toothpicks would never score above a 4.0, but allow me to explain. It is not that I don’t like toothpicks in my food; it is that I am scared of forgetting about them and piercing my gums! Small toothpicks are dangerous and are asking for trouble. Sometimes they try to mitigate this danger by putting those sparkly tips on the end. I am not impressed. The line cook that puts those things in must feel like a matador. He probably goes up on his toes before sticking the banderillas into the sandwich. Anyways, the larger than life toothpicks are easily indentified and removed. I think I was at a greater risk of poking my eye out than piercing my gums.
You can tell there was some thought put into this solid presentation; both sides of the sandwich are showcased. This is the color profile you are supposed to see in a Reuben.  (Don’t be shy about zooming in with your smart phone on this one) The color of the corned beef is classic and you can make out each of the other components. No visible marble on the rye but you can make out the caraway seeds.

Quality Of Ingredients – (3.9/5.0)

The corned beef was very tender, a bit salty, but it was a quality product. The other components were hard to find but good when you found them. The Swiss cheese was melty, but I think it may have lost some of its depth of flavor in the change of state. The sauerkraut was above average but I did not give it much thought after the first bite. I honestly cannot remember much about the Russian dressing… I guess that means it was just average.

Price – (3.0/5.0)
Whoa man, whoa! $12 for a Reuben? Really? I mean I realize we are in swanky Vinings here but $12 is a bit much. I saw that on the menu and the whole time I was waiting for my food I was looking around trying to figure out how I would justify $12. I worked in real-estate finance in a previous life and I almost got out my old Excel real estate pro-forma to model the P&L for this place and see if I could back solve to a $12 Reuben.  They are literally charging more than they do at the airport.
What else could you buy in metro-Atlanta for $12? You could buy 12 bags of Animal Crackers at Target.  It is not like there was trivia, live music or something else to offset the price either. The best tasting beer is the one that is free.  Knowing the steep price did slightly inhibit the experience for me from that point on.

Update: Meehan's got back to me about this price. The reason it is so expensive is that the corned beef and bread is locally sourced. The Chef puts lots of time and effort to make this a great sandwich.  I appreciate them getting back to me and the love they put into their Reuben. As a result, I have adjusted this score up to a 3.0 from the original 1.9.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.8/5.0)
Once it did come and I got over the fact that it was $12, I was pleased. This Reuben had a great smell as it came to the table, something I do not remember writing about for others on the blog. The sweet potato fries gave it a color backdrop on which to shine. I also loved the generous portion of corned beef (still not $12 worth).  There were some bites that were just a mouthful of beef.  Mmmm…
Taste – (8.6/10.0)
Simply put, this was an excellent Reuben. It was just a tad bit too salty to get a 9.0. That is a shame too because sometimes restaurants just use salt to help along a mediocre dish.  There was no need for that here. More than anything I think it was just good execution of what a Reuben should be. The last two blog posts have been of Reuben wanna-be failures. I really wanted to find a good one to get back up on the horse.
I would have liked more of a kick from the Russian dressing and perhaps more Swiss cheese.  There were some bites that did not have either.  The bread was nice, could have been more toasted but had good flavor.

Overall – (23.9/30.0)
The big question is would I order it again? No, not for that price. What can I say, I am a finance guy and I’m cheap. I really liked the place, the servers were nice and Danny was having fun people watching. I would go back to have a pint at the bar ($5.50 for a pint of Sam Adams) but I will just eat somewhere else. 
Our au pair, Heidy, joined us and it was her first Reuben!

Meehan's Public House on Urbanspoon Meehan's Public House, Vinings