Saturday, April 26, 2014

Episode XXVII: Brambleton Deli (ROA)

When you work for an airline and someone asks, “What are you doing this weekend?” you can get some crazy answers.   Say "Roanoke, Virginia" and it turns some heads. “Isn’t that the settlement that disappeared?” “What in the world is there?”  There is quite a bit actually.

My wife’s little sister is a second year medical resident in the ‘Noke and the rest of the siblings all decided to visit her the same weekend. The Salukes are an eclectic bunch to say the least.  Four very distinct personalities and looks to them, their significant others even more so. The one thing everyone agreed on was that we had to hit a Reuben in Roanoke.  After almost hitting a deer on our way, we arrived at the Brambleton Deli.

Classic Reuben
“Corned beef with melted Swiss cheese, Sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on grilled rye”

Appearance – (4.1/5.0)
No toothpicks! Think about it, the Reuben already has natural binding agents like Thousand Island and melted Swiss cheese. The sandwich held together just fine without the toothpicks. It looks like a little sports car with a low center of gravity. You couldn’t roll the thing over if you tried.
The main components of the sandwich are visible from each angle. The bright color of the Thousand Island is really the only accent on the plate.  You have a look for the slight char from the grill on the meat but this is a good sign. That is how you know it was made to order. The fries look less than exciting but I can deal with it.

Quality Of Ingredients – (3.7/5.0)
Everything on this Reuben seemed to be “store bought”. The bread probably came out of a bag. I would be shocked to hear it was baked on premises.  The Thousand Island also came straight from a bottle and the meat was uniform in dimensions.  This tells me it was also store bought. The Sauerkraut was fine but did not taste homemade. No one makes homemade Swiss so I will give them a pass there.  This is not to say store bought is poor quality, but it does not compare to some of the great stuff we have seen on this blog before.

Price – (3.9/5.0)
Nice to see an $8 Reuben.  I think this is fair, but not a great price given the list of ingredients. I do not remember how much the beer was because my sister-in-law unexpectedly picked up the tab for the whole table.  Thanks, Emily!

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.8/5.0)
The score would have been lower if not for the company at hand and the day we were having.   We had all just come from a beautiful hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Central Virginia. We also got a nice table outside on the deck but in the shade.  It had been a pretty good day and a Reuben made it that much better.   It will be hard to crack 4.0 with Costco brand fries and store bought ingredients.

Taste – (8.1/10.0)
It was a very good, not great, Reuben.  Despite humble ingredients you can still put out a good sandwich. What can turn average ingredients into a good sandwich is execution and I have to give it to them on that. They charred the meat just right, melted the cheese thoroughly, spread the right amount of dressing, and didn’t overdo it on the Sauerkraut. Any missteps here and this could have gone the other way in a hurry. 

Overall – (23.6/30.0)
Would I order it again, yes, but not the next time.  There were some other good entrees on the table I would want to try first.  This place has potential and could easily boost their score with better ingredients and a bit more love.  The freezer fries have got to go.  Nothing says "I don’t love you" like uniform frozen fries. Hand cut fries are so easy to do, cheaper, and taste better. There are some talented people in the back and a friendly wait staff up front but they need some help from the sourcing manager and owner.

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