Sunday, December 28, 2014

Episode XXXII: Front Page News (ATL)

Before we get into the blog I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the events that have occurred in Paris recently.  I have to admit that I take the Freedom of Expression I have for granted. I can’t imagine what it feels like having to worry about the serious consequences of your expressions.  This blog is an outlet for me, an escape.  It is an excuse to go to new places and meet new people. I value the privilege it is to bring all of you this blog freely.

I think my high school hero Astérix captured this best. I went through a Francophile phase back then. Maybe that explains why I ended up at UVA with fellow Francophile TJ. Anywhere here is the link.

Back to the blog:
This blog was originally going to take place at the Brewhouse Café. We walked in at 11:55 AM on a Sunday morning and asked if they were serving the lunch menu yet. I told the hostess I wanted to order the Reuben. She said no and said I would have to wait 35 minutes in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. My Tommy Boy chicken wings attempt fell flat so we left.
Just down the street was Front Page News I knew they had a Reuben and verified it was on the brunch and lunch menu. We had a winner.

Turkey or Pastrami Reuben
“Grilled marble rye, oven roasted sliced turkey, or deli style pastrami, sauerkraut, 1000 island dressing, Swiss cheese ”

Appearance – (3.8/5.0)
More toothpicks, blah, blah, blah.
You have heard that before but let’s talk about pickles for a moment.  I am not a fan of dill pickles. Kroger has this really good hot-and-spicy variety, but that’s about it for me as far as pickles go.  I don’t think people who like pickles are bad people; I am just not one of them. I have gone to great lengths on this blog to talk about the complexity that is the Reuben and pickles are just not part of the equation. 
Pickles can serve a purpose as an aesthetic garnish on the plate but they should never, ever, touch anything else. The first thing I thought of when I saw this was, “oh no, that bite is going to taste like pickle juice”.  Maybe it is not that big a deal, it’s just the tip.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.7/5.0)
How ‘bout that pastrami?  It had enough body to mix with the other components but it had a great pepper kick. It looked pepper crusted to me. I know pepper is part of the spice mix that goes into the preparation but this one seemed to be dominated by it. 
Here is quick recap on the differences between corned beef and pastrami. 

This sounds strange but the ingredients kept their temperature well. Stick with me here. Sometimes when you’re eating out with kids, you get distracted and can’t eat your food right away. This often leads to not being able to enjoy your food when it’s hot. It is part of being a parent. This time out was no different but this sandwich never got cold. It was so strange. I couldn’t tell if it was where I was sitting, how it was constructed or what, but the ingredients aged well.

Price – (4.7/5.0)
Wow, $8.99.  There are some $12, $13 Reubens out there, so it is nice to see such good value. I also got a killer Bloody Mary for $6, which I think is reasonable for a weekend brunch. An unbelievable Bloody Mary bar is at your disposal if you want to build your own. I am still a beginner when it comes to brunch cocktails so the 100+ item Bloody Mary bar was a bit intimidating. I deferred to the bartender who came through for me.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.6/5.0)
Front Page News is a great little place and I am happy to have discovered it.  The previously mentioned larger-than-life Bloody Mary bar is only the start. There is a huge patio, tons of TVs, and, perhaps the best part, is the model train sitting on top of the bar calling your attention to the loft-high ceiling. We asked our server, Angie, if she could turn it on.  She said the manager that knew  how quit two months ago and no one has been able to figure it out since. I bet if you offer an EE from Tech a free beer he/she could figure it out in 5 minutes tops.

Taste – (9.4/10.0)
No ketchup test necessary here, this was great. The only thing I can think of was a bit too much butter on the rye bread. It took away from the classic rye taste. Other than that the marriage of 1000 island and sauerkraut was on point. The Swiss was just enough to cool some of the spice from all of that pepper on the pastrami and the fries were solid.  Bravo!

Overall – (27.2/30.0)

Would I order it again, Yes! Great Reuben all the way around. The pepper on the pastrami was so good I don’t know if I would be willing to try the Turkey variety.  I will be back for sure to try my hand at the Bloody Mary bar and get me another Reuben.
Front Page News on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Episode XXXI: Meehan's Atlantic Station (ATL)

The Reuben Ranger is back! My apologies for taking so much time off between entries. I can only imagine the difficult decisions my readers faced not knowing whether or not to order the Reuben.
I have a new job and the busy season is the fall. That is behind us now, kind of, and I should have some more time these days to get back into it.

Lisa, my learning team buddy from business school, was back in town this week.  We went out after work and it gave me a chance to get back in the game.  You may remember Lisa from Episode IX. She is no stranger to the blog.

I found myself back at Meehan's this time in Atlantic Station. Episode XV was at Meehan’s in Vinings. It was expensive, but I went back to edit the blog when management got back to me explaining the price.  I don’t know if this location is under the same management, but I found myself ordering another very expensive Reuben.  The description on the menu is slightly different from the Vinings location and I was excited to see how this one would match up.

Corned Beef Reuben
“Heywood’s Provisions corned beef with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on marble rye”

Appearance – (3.7/5.0)

Well, this has never happened before. I don’t have a picture to share with you. I took one, I did. I don’t know what happened to it.  Danny has become more adept recently at accessing pictures on my cell phone. I am going to blame him for deleting them. I realize now that I could never be a novelist.
First impression of the plate was good before I spotted what appeared to be Nacho cheese coming out of my Reuben.  I looked up and realized I was sitting under a nice stained glass lamp that was giving everything underneath it a yellow hue. Crisis averted. It was in fact overflowing Swiss cheese and I am completely okay with that. 

As much as I have talked about toothpicks there was a new wrinkle with this one.  The Reuben was cut in half then one half was placed on top of the other at an angle.  Then a skewer was piecing both of them to keep them aligned. I can appreciate that some effort went into the presentation. The fries fill out of the rest of the plate and the portion seems generous.

Quality Of Ingredients – (4.5/5.0)
The Heywood’s Provisions corned beef was not as good as I remember it from the Vinings location but just as expensive (I’m adjusting for one year of inflation).  The flavor was good but it was not as tender. It was the end of the night so I don’t know if this was the end of the batch. It is locally sourced and I think the underlying product is a good one but it could have been prepared a bit better.
The Swiss cheese was very good and the sauerkraut Ph level was just right.  Nothing special about the fries, straight off the Sysco truck and into the frialator. 

Price – (3.1/5.0)
$13.00. Lisa was nice enough to pick up that tab on this one. Thank you big consulting firm, but $13 bucks is $13 bucks. I come to Meehan’s Atlantic Station all the time to watch the Tottenham Hotspurs play. 
Come On You Spurs!

The weekend buffet they set up for Spurs games is solid and only $7, and that includes the coffee!  That’s a good price for two hours of entertainment plus a great buffet. I don’t want to give the impression that Meehan’s has a poor value proposition because that is not the case. The execution on the Reuben needs to be better, though, to charge that much.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (3.6/5.0)
Late on a Wednesday night this place was almost empty.  For some reason our host still decided to sit us next to the only other occupied table; we pretended not to listen to each other’s conversations. The vibe when I come on game days is great. There is a small but loyal group of Spurs supporters.

The sandwich itself did not have much of an X factor. The marbling on the rye also had me stumped. I could not line up the patterns between the two halves of the sandwich. Did they cut the bread then flip one half before putting it together? Maybe they knew I was coming and wanted to game the system and boost their JNSQ score. Mission Accomplished.

Taste – (8.8/10.0)
Despite the lack of tenderness the overall taste was good. I didn’t comment on the Russian dressing at the Vinings location and it wasn’t very noticeable on this one either. Sometimes when the sauerkraut is too pungent the dressing can cool it down.  This sauerkraut was just right so the weak dressing becomes less of an issue. 

The sandwich did pass the ketchup test. About halfway through the meal I dip the Reuben in ketchup to see if it tastes better or worse. A Reuben is complex enough and if it taste better with ketchup then something is wrong. This one did not taste better with ketchup so the fundamentals were there.

Overall – (23.7/30.0)
Certainly not the highest score, but decent. Would I order it again? No. As I mentioned, the breakfast/brunch food is great and I’m sure if I go there again during lunchtime I can find a burger that would be just a bit better than the Reuben. I look forward to many more early mornings at Meehan’s cheering on the Spurs!

Meehan's Public House on Urbanspoon