Saturday, June 18, 2016

Episode XLIV: Coppell Deli (DFW)

Moving to a new city is stressful. Moving in general stinks. Whether it’s moving from a dorm room into storage, or moving a three bedroom house halfway across the country, nobody likes to move. You have to take the good with the bad though. One good thing about moving is that you have a new city to explore. I really look forward to scouring all of North Texas looking for the best Reuben. Coming off a great farewell Reuben in Highland Park, I was excited to try my new hometown deli here in Coppell.

The Coppell Deli has been around since 1944, but was really put on the map by the Dallas Cowboys during their Super Bowl-winning years. The seller’s agent of our soon-to-be home in Coppell even mentioned it as one of the selling points of moving to the neighborhood. I had high hopes going in, and Father’s Day weekend seemed like a great time to try it out.

Reuben Sandwich
“Corned beef w/Sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on Rye”

Appearance – (3.7/5.0)
This one did not make the best first impression. Once I realized those were actually Caraway seeds and not ants marching around the edge of the Rye bread, my attention was grabbed by the renegade 1000 Island dressing that escaped. I was wondering if this sandwich would have dressing when I ordered it because the 1000 Island was not listed on the menu. Maybe they were just trying to surprise me.

This whole sandwich has short-order cook written all over it. This makes sense once you see the menu and realize this places serves breakfast. My theory is that the 1000 Island is usually dispensed out of a plastic squeeze bottle with a single tip. For whatever reason, the 1000 Island got put into the squeeze bottle with a tri-tip. The tri-tip bottle should really be used with caution. They are relatively new and are really designed more for food trucks. I cannot be certain that this is how it happened, but I can only assume.

Quality of Ingredients – (3.6/5.0)
The quality was really not that great. They don’t advertise anything homemade or made-from-scratch. It seems to be a store bought Sysco operation. I wouldn’t say anything was poor quality but nothing really top-shelf either.

Price – (3.8/5.0)
The sandwich plus tots was $11.49. This is not super cheap, even when you consider the other items on the menu. For that same price you can get a bacon cheeseburger.  For less than that you can get a Patty Melt or even a Gyro! I realize Coppell has some high property taxes and they have to pay the bills, but this seemed steep for the product and compared to what else was on the menu.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.2/5.0)
This place was saved by the JNSQ and it starts when you walk in the door.  The walk from the front door to the register passes through what looks like a walk-in fridge stocked with beer. It had a pretty good selection, too, anchored by Shiner, of course. It also had lots of TVs which made watching Euro2016 easier.  I was afraid a Texas Deli made famous by American football would not have soccer on TV. I was happy to be proven wrong. Texas has changed quite a bit in the 13 years since I left.  The Reuben itself did not spark much curiosity other than trying to spot the tri-tip dressing dispenser.  

Taste – (8.1/10.0)
The Reuben is all about how the ingredients come together and balance. This Reuben was almost impossible to score because I could literally not get my hands around it. I reached down into the basket and for the life of me could not find the bottom bread. The top bread was toasty and firm and I was momentarily relieved that I would not have another soggy Reuben to deal with. Unfortunately, I then realized that I had reached the bottom of the sandwich but the bread was so soggy I couldn’t differentiate it from the moist corned beef. I had to eat this Reuben with a fork! That is a first for this blog. I think the short-order cook had the Reuben on the flat top, squeezed some water around it and covered it with a hood to melt the cheese. It looks like he used the tri-tip too...

The taste was largely consistent with the ingredients. It was ok, nothing spectacular. I ate the whole thing so that must say something.

Overall – (23.4/30.0)
Would I order it again? No. I have to say I was disappointed that what is probably the closest restaurant to my new place does not have a decent Reuben. I do want to come back and try the breakfast and the Gyro for sure. 

This place also has a liquor license and TVs, so I can see myself escaping here to grab a drink and/or watch a game in the future. The menu has standard bar apps and the tots were great but I think it’s impossible to mess up tots. They have to be the most standard food out there. There seems to be only one maker of tots that supplies every restaurant and cafeteria in the world. From Napoleon Dynamite’s cafeteria to the Coppell Deli, they are all the same. 

The Ranger is coming for you North Texas.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Episode XLIII: Kuby's Sausage House and European Market (DAL)

“Go west, young man”

The time had finally come for me to move back to Texas and truthfully,
I was not sure it would ever happen.  The family is starting a new
adventure together in Dallas of all places.

A new job became available with a company I have always wanted to work
for. My old company was great but I can tell already that they are
different. Remember that Taylor Swift video where there are two
Taylors? One is the cheerleader driving the red sports car with jet
black hair and the other is the glasses- wearing marching band Taylor?
That is the situation here. My old company was cheerleader Taylor.  I
am not complaining about cheerleader Taylor. I know I had a good thing
going, but marching band Taylor is more my style.  She is a good girl
with a warm heart, sense of humor, and does not take herself too
seriously.  The only part of this metaphor that bothers me is that
this makes me the guy with boy bangs…

I have to give a quick shout out to the Reuben at Folk Art in Atlanta.
This is a fun little place in the Inman Park neighborhood. We went
there to celebrate the big news. I ordered the Reuben but had to step
out to talk to our Realtor when the sandwich came. I took a bite then
my phone rang again, this time from the relocation specialist. It was
a hectic first few days putting everything in motion. Anyways, I was
not able to give the Reuben the attention it deserves, so I promise to
go back and try that one again. The one thing I can tell you is that
it was just a bit too salty. Unfortunately, this is a common flaw.

Back to Dallas! On my first day after I finished the paperwork I saw
my desk. It was decorated with pictures of Reubens! My reputation as
the Ranger now precedes me. Who would have thought? It wasn’t long
before it was time to go to lunch. They told me we were going to a
German restaurant that had a Reuben. Works for me!


“Kuby’s haus [sic] made corned beef topped with a mound of German
sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, then grilled to perfection”

Appearance – (4.1/5.0)
Clean presentation of the Reuben here with no obvious flaws. Take a
look at the Swiss cheese. It looks like it has been softened but not
completely melted. It is resting on the sauerkraut, a layer away from
the warm corned beef. This caught my eye and I will come back to this
in the taste section.

The pickles provide some color and balance for the plate.  The German
potato salad looks pretty good too. It is not exactly a Texas-sized
portion but I do appreciate that you can see the mustard seeds.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.2/5.0)
The haus made corned beef was well worth the time they put into it.
The seasoning balance was just right too. We are in Texas here, so
sourcing quality brisket is probably not an issue, it's what you do
with it. The menu does not mention it, but there was 1000 Island or
some kind of dressing on the sandwich. You can even see a little blop
on the picture. I don’t remember it making a big impression on me and
I don’t have anything in my notes about it. Usually when a dressing
has a kick or I can tell it is homemade it sticks with me.  I did not
detect anything special about the bread either. The marble is nice but
suggests it was mass produced. I think this was off-the-shelf bread.

I will give them a break on the bread because of the potato salad.  It
was obvious it was made-from-scratch with top notch ingredients.

Price – (4.7/5.0) 

$7.95 God Bless Texas and the German immigrants that
decided to make it their home. This is a great deal for $7.95! There
was plenty of corned beef in there and I can’t really complain too
much about the small portion size of the potato salad. The potato
salad was good and it left me wanting more.  Cost of living here is
great and I may have to recalibrate my thinking on price. For the time
being, I will keep this high score on record and have to keep this in
mind going forward here in the DFW Metroplex.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.6/5.0)
This place had loads of JNSQ. The meat-market in the front was nice
and the decorations in the main dining room were authentic. Our server
even had a German accent that I’m pretty sure was real. The potato
salad also really perked my interest. I got great vibes all around.

Taste – (8.7/10.0)

When I picked up the Reuben a clump of corned beef fell out. This was
the perfect opportunity to really see what the haus made corned beef
was made of. It had great flavor without being too salty!  I looked
around to see where I should attack the sandwich first. I didn’t want
to take a bite where the corned beef had just fallen out because it
wouldn't have the right weight and balance. (See what I did there all
you AvGeeks?)

I spotted a good one on the corner and went in. This was a respectable
Reuben. The corned beef was great and the Swiss and sauerkraut really
held their own. The Swiss was a thicker cut and it worked because it
was not completely melted. This makes it less messy to eat but also
gives it more body.  The menu does not say it, but I think the
sauerkraut was homemade. The reason that I think this is because some
bits were more acidic than others. The bread was just a bit soggy but
had decent flavor once you got past the texture.

Overall – (26.3/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes. There were some other great things on the
table and lots of things that would be fun to try to pronounce on the
menu. I’m excited for the new gig and glad to finally be back home in
Texas! Texas Forever.