Friday, August 1, 2014

Episode XXX: Izzy's (CVG)

World’s Greatest REUBENS.  Those words are prominently displayed on the menu at Izzy’s in downtown Cincinnati. Quite the billing that really sets expectations. I was in the Queen City for my brother-in-law’s bachelor party.  My reputation as a Reuben blogger now precedes me and the Best Man, who organized the weekend, was nice enough to suggest this place.

Before we could start daytime drinking across the river in Northern Kentucky, we needed a solid protein-rich meal. Izzy’s was just the place to get the party started.

Izzy’s Famous Reuben
“This is it! Our savory sandwich piled high with Izzy’s famous corned beef, sauerkraut, Izzy’s special dressing, and melted imported Swiss cheese.”

Appearance – (3.9/5.0)
How about that potato pancake? I believe that is a first for this blog. I thought it was a funnel cake that was missing powdered sugar at first. The Reuben itself is ok, no marble on the rye but the seeds are visible.  The bread is not toasted and I think that is to keep it pliable so it can hug the mini-mound of meat underneath. 
I don’t know why they do this center mound instead of evenly distributing the meat.  It reminds me of the probability exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science.  If you drop a marble from the same spot each time and let it work its way through the Plinko studs, you are going to get a normal distribution.  Never fails.

This must be how they construct the sandwich.  Here is the conversation each trainee gets on day one.

“Drop the meat 6” above the center of the bread each time
“But what about the sides?”
“Don’t worry, it will look Normal when you’re done”

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.2/5.0)
There are lots of homemade ingredients on this sandwich which is good for quality.  The corned beef is a secret family recipe they slice to order.  Izzy’s special dressing was solid and the sauerkraut also tasted homemade but the menu does not confirm that. If you are taking the time to make your own ingredients it’s usually because you think you can do it better than what you can find off-the-shelf.

Price – (3.5/5.0)
I ordered the whole for $8.79 which includes the potato pancake but does not include the drink. When it came it looked like I may have gotten the half.  I think I could have gotten a bit more meat for the whole. I almost walked out of the place without paying. They don’t bring you a check; you just tell the guy at the register up front what you had when you pay. I was so excited to get across the river that I had one foot out the door when my brother-in-law stopped me and told me I had to pay. Honest mistake. I never accept free meals from a place. I think it is essential to keeping the integrity of this blog and in keeping with the highest journalistic standards that I continue that policy.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.4/5.0)
I have to go back to the potato pancake on this one. What?!? We hit this place just after the lunch rush so the atmosphere in there was pretty calm. It was cool being in a place where people think so highly of Reubens. Downtown Cincinnati is also a great city to walk around and has a nice vibe.

Taste – (8.5/10.0)
World’s Greatest REUBEN? That may be a stretch. World’s greatest potato pancake is more likely. I kept waiting for that bite where my head would explode and I would say out loud, “Wow, this is the world’s greatest REUBEN.” It never came.  Very tasty for sure and most of all it was good execution of all of the Reuben essentials. Good meat, good cheese, put together well, etc… but they may have set the bar a bit too high. Where can you really go from there?

Overall – (24.5/30.0)

Would I order it again, probably not the Izzy. I would come back to try one of the other Reubens they have on the menu. Part of the fun of this blog has been seeing how the Reuben can be reinvented and reinterpreted. The classic is tough to do really well.  There was a Skyline Chili place right down the street so the opportunity cost of trying another Reuben is high.  Overall it was a good experience and I am glad we were able to squeeze it into the weekend.
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