Sunday, October 27, 2013

Episode XXI: Rose & Crown Tavern (ATL)

I had been on something of a hot streak as a Broncos fan in Atlanta this year. The first 7 weeks of the season I was able to watch the Broncos game on TV; I was never this lucky in Boston. Finally in Week 8 the Falcons were out west playing the Cardinals at 4:15 and the Broncos were hosting the Redskins at the same time. No worries, this gave me a perfect excuse to go back to the Rose & Crown. The Broncos’ meetup of Atlanta is there every week. You may remember the Rose & Crown from Episode VII. Sunday Reuben and Broncos football, not a bad day.

Pub Reuben
“Toasted marble rye loaded with corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and Russian dressing”
I almost missed another jab at the Swiss because of the font but look closely. It looks like all caps but the R in Russian and the T in Toasted are bigger. That just must be how this font works.

Appearance – (3.4/5.0)
Fundamentals. This sandwich did poorly on the gimmies. Let’s break this down.
First the outside of the plate was not wiped down before it went out. There is a tiny bit of cheese or sauce there on the outside that caught my eye. Next the fries are all over the place. So much so that you can see Danny’s hand in the picture trying to straighten things out.

Finally, the toothpicks look like a bad hole placement on a miniature golf course. Toothpicks can be functional but there is no way those are serving a purpose. This sandwich had potential for a high score because of the nice marble and the great contrast in colors between the Russian dressing and the sauerkraut but poor execution cannot be overlooked.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.0/5.0)
This one had great individual pieces except the corned beef. The rye was buttery and toasted well, the sauerkraut really stood up well to the rest of the flavors, and the Russian dressing was great.  The corned beef was not as warm as it could have been and I think it came right out of a package. All of the pieces were uniform and I strongly doubt they made it on premises, much less sliced the meat to order. The beef was also too salty; I downed a couple mason jars of water after this one. It is too bad because the rest of the pieces were so good, but you cannot cut corners on the main ingredient.

On a related note, we had the Brownie Surprise for dessert and the same thing happened! The brownie was cold and stale but the ice-cream and whip cream were great. The bananas were fresh too.  I say just take out the brownie and call it a Sundae.

Price – (3.9/5.0)
The Pub Reuben is $9.50 but the Bella Reuben (Portobello mushrooms instead of the corned beef) is $9.25. The mushrooms tasted better than the beef, so if you are supposed to be paying a premium for the meat then I think something is wrong here. This score could have been lower but I do appreciate that the meal came with the Broncos game watch. The staff reserves an entire room for us and puts up our Broncos flag. They also brought Danny some crayons. You can always score points with me by being nice to Danny.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.8/5.0)
Despite the issues listed, this sandwich did ok here and I think it was the sauerkraut. The last time I was here I described it as “stiff” and I think that was true this time around as well. I mean this in a good way. There is a lot going on in a Reuben and the sauerkraut needs to be able to power through. It made me forget about the mediocre corned beef. I think this could have also suffered because of the fact that the Broncos were playing horribly when I was eating this.  Danny also decided to start acting up, so I put him on my lap and tried to eat this thing one-handed. Look at it. This or any Reuben is not meant for one-handed consumption.

Taste – (8.2/10.0)
This Reuben falls in the good-not-great category. The sauerkraut and the Russian dressing really carried the load and you can never go wrong with buttery toasted rye bread.  Yes, the corned beef was not what it could be, but there were still some good bites in there. I could not get Danny to try any of it but he sure did like the fries.

Overall – (23.3/30.0)
There is potential here but it is disappointing to see it squandered. Simple fixes on the presentation could go a long way. There may have to be a more serious discussion about what should happen with the corned beef.

The pieces of the puzzle are in place to make an outstanding Reuben, they just have to figure out the last one.  Would I order it again? No. Now that I have had both, I would order the Bella again. It had all the good elements of this one minus the beef!
Rose & Crown Tavern on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 18, 2013

Episode XX: Flying Saucer (SAT)

I know, I know. It has been a while since my last post. My inbox is overflowing with anxious, almost angry, emails from fans waiting for the next episode of the Reuben Ranger (Sarcasm). Well it is here and it’s a special one.

We go out west to San Antonio to visit the Flying Saucer. This place has a thinly veiled alcoholic start-up program that they call the UFO Club. You drink 200 beers and they put your name on a plate up on the wall.  There are mini awards along the way to keep you drinking.

You can only get credit for three drinks in one day so it is not really the binge drinking kind of alcoholism, it's more the slow-and-steady-three-beers-does-not-even-give-me-a-buzz kind. Turns out my sister and my brother-in-law have taken the bait and are well on their way to the plate. I am all for this, by the way; I wish they had one here in Atlanta.

“Pastrami, jalapeño-kraut, melted Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing on toasted marble rye.” 

Appearance – (3.8/5.0)
First impression here is the butcher paper on the plate. Hmmmm. We have seen brown paper bags, baskets, plates and butcher paper all working solo but this is an interesting combination. Not really sure what it does. I would say minimal value-added. You still have to wash the plate, right?

One slice of pastrami did not make it in. Oddly enough it looks like the sandwich is sticking its tongue out at me. It obviously does not know how this ends.

There is good marbling on the rye and you can see a slight hint of green in the kraut from the jalapeños.  Also the standard stray pickle and toothpicks; what can you do?

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.1/5.0)
All good stuff here. There is usually a weak link in almost every sandwich but that is not the case here. The pastrami had good flavor and was not too salty. The jalapeños could have had more kick to them.  You could tell the bread was rye without Caraway domination. I guess there was no weak link, but there were no superstars either.

Price – (3.9/5.0)
For San Antonio $8.29 is not cheap. There is also an 8.25% sales tax in the Lone Star State. The atmosphere was good and there were plenty of TVs with all kinds of college football on, so that keeps the score closer to 4.0.  What kept it below 4.0 was the portion size of the potato salad. They are stingy with that stuff. It was really good too, so it made me even more upset. I gave up ordering fries for that. In the end it is a good deal because our server was nice and you could tell she had a big heart.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.7/5.0)The “Esque”, as I like to call it, and the Flying Saucer in general were fun. The jalapeños mixed things up a bit in Reubenland.  I think the JNSQ was sitting at a 4.5 and our server gets credit for the last point 2.
Taste – (8.3/10.0)
I usually base my taste score on the quality of the ingredients then ask myself if the whole was greater than the parts. In this case I say the whole was greater (4.1x2=8.2) although not by much. I think just a little more of a kick from the jalapeño could have really taken this one to another level.  Solid ingredients put together make a solid sandwich. 

Overall – (24.8/30.0)

Would I order the Esuqe again? I am not sure. There are some other things on the menu I would want to try first before going back to the Esque. My wife had a burger that was superb and there are other menu items that feature the jalapeño-kraut.  I would go back to the Flying Saucer for sure and I look forward to doing so.

(This is Matthew, my favorite nephew)

Flying Saucer on Urbanspoon