Friday, August 23, 2013

Episode XIX: Malone's (ATL)

The blog has really caught on with my co-workers. Sometimes I don’t know if they are laughing with me or at me, but nonetheless, no fewer than 7 of them signed up for the latest Reuben adventure. We all went to Malone’s and it was Reubens all around, almost. Brett chose not to get one. This is actually his third Reuben adventure tag-a-long but he has yet to order one. He’ll cave eventually.

"Deli sliced pastrami, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and 1000 Island on grilled marble rye bread”
Again Swiss is not capitalized. I can tell you that MS Word spell check does underline it. This means they either think Word is wrong or they don’t care. Martina, I apologize on behalf of Malone’s and misspelled American menus everywhere.

Appearance – (3.8/5.0)
Good natural looking marble rye but let’s get right to it. It looks like there is a pastrami taco inside this sandwich. I have not seen this before. They slice the pastrami long enough to just stuff the sauerkraut in there. I have zoomed in a few times and I just don’t think I like it.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.1/5.0)
The pastrami was actually pretty good but Charith did point out that it was a bit salty. (MS Word has issues with Charith) The 1000 Island by definition came out of a bottle and the sauerkraut was solid. The sauerkraut is so important to the Reuben taste profile and this one was good.

Price – (3.4/5.0)
$8.59 is not exactly cheap, with nothing to offset the price either. There is nothing special about the ambiance at Malone’s; it is a pretty standard restaurant. It does come with a pickle but I am not really crazy about them and the other guys were not either. Kyle was the big winner in this as he collected about five unwanted pickles on his plate.

I would also like to talk ketchup. Some places do the ketchup in a little cup on the plate. Can I just get a bottle of Heinz 57 on the table? I feel like they are being cheap with the ketchup. I usually preemptively order more when the server drops off the plate.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.2/5.0)  
Did they really fold the pastrami around the sauerkraut? I am having a hard time getting past that one. Not really an X-factor with this sandwich. It is one of the few pastrami Reubens on the blog, and I thought that alone would give it some points here but it has disappointed.

Taste – (8.3/10.0)
This was good, certainly not bad, but nothing outstanding. The folding sauerkraut is a doubled edged sword. It facilitates the perfect bite experience. I think the sauerkraut was tossed in the 1000 Island so there is no avoiding it. The problem was there was too much of the filling. On some bites the filling flushes out and you get a solo sauerkraut bite. Have you ever taken an initial small bite out of a Qdoba burrito and then just let everything inside of the burrito come out on the second bite? That is a good thing, solo sauerkraut is not.

Overall – (22.8/30.0)
Not the best Reuben experience. Maybe I should check these places out first before I invite a hoard of co-workers. Would I order it again? No. I had the meatloaf the time before this and it was awesome.

Malone's Steak & Seafood on Urbanspoon Malones Steak & Seafood

Monday, August 19, 2013

Episode XVIII: Jason's Deli (ATL)

Tamales or a Reuben? My tamales were hot out of the microwave and I was heading back to my desk, when my co-workers asked me to come along to Jason’s. I knew they had a Reuben and it was Monday… What is more depressing than having lunch at your desk, alone, on a Monday? So the tamales went back in the office fridge and I was off to Jason’s with the crew.

Reuben THE Great
“1/2 pound of hot corned beef or pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, grilled on rye.”

This thing looks like your grandfather’s Reuben.

Appearance – (4.3/5.0)
Chips in the middle, that’s new. I like the ends of the sandwich facing out like that. You can tell the selling point in the description is that there is so much meat. You might as well show it off. Look at the subtle layer of color that the Russian dressing gives on the underside of the top bread. It looks like they coordinated that with the color of the toothpick. There is no way that toothpick penetrates the entire sandwich. If it had at least been functional I would have looked the other way, but the damn toothpicks strike again.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.1/5.0)
This is tough because the corned beef was excellent, [Here are some of the words MS Word suggested I could use instead of Excellent: Outstanding, Brilliant, Exceptional, First-Rate, Poor (Antonym)] but the sauerkraut was not. First the beef. It was very tender and there was plenty of it. It was seasoned right and just tasted like good corned beef. I wanted to go back in the kitchen and take some with me to make corned beef hash with eggs for breakfast the next morning. The sauerkraut had a nice texture, very light and fluffy, but it was too…sour. This is the main reason people tell me they would not order a Reuben, the sauerkraut. Sauerkraut does not have to be that strong to taste good. Unfortunately, there was lots of it.

Price – (3.9/5.0)
This was $6.89 for the “lighter portion”. I would say it was an ok value. You figure the corned beef had to be the most expensive thing on the plate and they piled that on, but the potato chips, which are the cheapest, they kind of skimped on.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.7/5.0)
The outward facing presentation carries over into this category but the potato chips really took the wind out of my sails. It seems like they put so much time and effort into the sandwich, the least they could do is not make the side look depressing. The chips are a filler and look lost on the plate.

Taste – (8.1/10.0)
The whole was less than the parts for this Reuben. There is more to a Reuben than just the corned beef. Maybe they thought that if they piled it up real high then the other stuff would not matter. This is not the case. Some bites were all corned beef. Despite the bright layer of visible Russian dressing, you could not taste it. Same thing with the Swiss. I had to take apart the Reuben to make sure there was cheese in there. Once I found the Swiss, it did taste good. I am trying to remember anything about the rye and nothing comes to mind. Some folks have asked me if I take notes when I go. I don’t. It looks like maybe I should.

Overall – (24.1/30.0)
This was your grandfather’s Reuben. When you hear old folks talk about Reubens, this is what they have in mind. It is a heaping pile of warm corned beef and enough sauerkraut to match it. I have been critical of some places for not respecting the Reuben enough. I think Jason’s might respect it too much. It is ok to throw a bit more cheese on there, or perhaps find a way to get more dressing in there too. You can have fun with it. Would I order it again? Probably not. This is not to say it was bad, but there are just so many other good looking things at this place. The opportunity cost would be too high to order this Reuben again, however I stand by my decision to save the tamales for another day.

Jason's Deli on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Episode XVII: Jack's New York Deli (ATL)

Time was running out to try Jack’s New York Deli. We are closing on a house ITP this week and my days in Smynings are numbered. A friend from work (Stu is a Chargers fan but we can look past that during the off-season) recommended this place. Word about the blog is really starting to get around. I have a good list of places from folks I want to try next. Please keep the recommendations coming.

Real Reuben"Lean sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese served on toasted rye with Russian Dressing”
Did anyone else notice they capitalized Russian but not Swiss? Who likes the Russians but hates the Swiss? Iran? Syria? Remember this picture?

I mean, Russia does not have too many friends out there and Switzerland does not have too many enemies. Strange. Back to the Reubens.

Appearance – (4.3/5.0) Good execution of the fundamentals. Sandwich is cut in half, melted cheese visible, toasted bread, no toothpicks, and it comes in basket. There is also some good layering at work here. I saw the grill master make this thing. He made it the way you would a cheesesteak. Everything on the grill was chopped and tossed around. It makes for a great visual.   

Quality Of Ingredients – (3.9/5.0) The bread was out of a bag and the other ingredients seemed to be pre-portioned. They were not slicing the meat to order or anything. I did really like the Swiss cheese though (did you see what I did there, Swiss). How about those fries? Usually if I talk about the side dish the Reuben is in trouble. Not the case here. These fries were premium potatoes.
Price – (4.6/5.0)
$7.99 is not cheap but it did come with fries and a drink. So if you assume each of those extras is $1, the sandwich would be $5.99. This was a great deal all the way around.
Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.4/5.0)  
This was a fun little place. Our server knew a few people by name. You could tell there were some regulars from the neighborhood. Good luck finding it though. It is tucked away out of view from the street. If Stu had not told me about it, I don’t know if I would have come. My wife is claiming she had told me several times about this place. She is my editor so I am going to say she is right. I think Dana mentioned this place too.

Of all the Reubens on this blog, this one knocked me into the deepest food coma by far. I was out all afternoon taking a nap. I could barely open my eyes after it and I did not want to move.

Taste – (9.0/10.0) Despite not having amazing individual ingredients, this Reuben was on point. The toasted bread held up well and facilitated some perfect bites. The Swiss cheese was in every bite and the sauerkraut had just the right amount of kick to it. I think the cheesesteak preparation method had a lot to do with the taste.

The corned beef was very tender. When this happens I have to consciously remind myself to chew the food. You could just swallow this thing if you wanted to.

Overall – (26.2/30.0)
I am very happy I came and I will be back. There are other great looking Reuben Ranger eligible sandwiches on the menu so who knows which one will be next. Smynings, it’s been real.

Jack's New Yorker Deli on Urbanspoon