Saturday, July 19, 2014

Episode XXIX: Bennett’s Market & Deli (ATL)

It has been a while since my last post but it was not for lack of effort. I tried to order a Reuben at the Brewhouse Café during a US World Cup game. The place was too crowded and I ended crossing the street to buy a taquito at 7-11. A few weeks after that I had been bumped to first class on my flight from ATL to ELP and they were serving Reubens! By the time the flight attendant got to me they were out and I had to order the Asian chicken salad. So the month of June came and went without a Reuben Ranger blog post.
Back to today. My wife and I had been meaning to try Bennett’s Market & Deli. They dropped a flyer on our front porch and I had driven by it a few times. They claim to be “Your Neighborhood Market”. Grant Park is already a great neighborhood but imagine if I could add a go-to deli within walking distance.  

Classic Reuben"Corned beef on marble rye with melted swiss cheese, sauerkraut & russian dressing”

Appearance – (3.8/5.0)
There is nothing crazy going on here; low risk, low reward. The construction seems to be neat and contained. When you get up close you can see the caraway seeds in the rye.
If the marbling in the rye were an ink blot, I don’t know what my answer would be. Maybe this is the control slide they put out before they show you the butterfly.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.3/5.0)
The traditional deli counter display lets you see all the different meats. It looks like an old-world deli and the quality of meat lived up to the expectations. The corned beef had enough body and flavor to stand up to the rest of the sandwich. One ingredient I don’t talk about much in this section is the Swiss cheese.  This one had thick cut cheese and it was very good. Too often the Swiss cheese is just a box to check but it can really add something. The sauerkraut was lacking kick.

Price – (4.1/5.0) 
It was $7.99 for the “Atlanta” ¼ lb Reuben and $0.99 for the chips. It is not cheap but considering it is a mom-and-pop I think it is reasonable. They also do a good job of making the meal an experience. There is a bevy of imported specialty foods all around the store. I even had a Mexican Coke with my Reuben. It was fun to walk around and see everything they had while I waited for my food. I factor all of this into the score.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.5/5.0)  
I really liked this little place. It makes me happy to know it is in the neighborhood and is doing well.  The lady behind the counter was very nice and even came out to play with Danny when we were done eating. It has only been open since 2013 but has the old country charm. There is exposed brick and ductwork.   

The sandwich itself was interesting as well. It had been put on the press just long enough to toast the bread and melt the cheese but not long enough to warm up the meat. I thought it was genius. Foodies talk about contrasting colors and textures all the time but not so much temperatures.

Taste – (8.8/10.0)

This Reuben had lots of things going for it but not enough to break into the 9s. Most notably lacking was the sauerkraut. New-age Reubens like to substitute out the potent sauerkraut for more universally accepted coleslaw. This sauerkraut was lacking the strong vinegar taste Reuben fans have come to love. The Russian dressing was also muted. The corned beef and Swiss was enough to make this a very good Reuben but it could have been even better.

Overall – (25.5/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes. My wife had the BLT and it was good but the Reuben was good enough where I would forgo my other options. Maybe next time I'll try the Greek salad, but the next time I order a sandwich, it will be the Reuben. 
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