Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Episode XLV: The Grill House Cafe (DAL)

It can be tough being the new guy. I have been at this new gig for almost a month, but I’m still learning all the new-guy stuff. Where this room is, what that means, who reports to whom, etc…  You also get friendly people who want to get to know the new guy and even take him out to lunch. That was the case here, as one of my co-workers invited me out and, of course, found a place close by that has a Reuben.

Grill House Reuben
“Corn beef piled high, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, Swiss cheese on grilled rye bread”

Appearance – (4.1/5.0)
Pas mal. Ignore the ticket in the basket for a minute and look at the distribution of meat. Almost looks like a diagram out of a geology textbook showing a cross-section of a mountain. The corned beef is the rock and the Swiss cheese is the snow cap. The Parmesan cheese on the fries is puzzling. I wasn’t sure what it was until I tasted it. At first I thought they had gone nuts with the fancy sea salt in an attempt to boost their Quality of Ingredients score. The score could have been higher without the ticket, but there are no toothpicks and good cut-and-show presentation.

Quality of Ingredients – (4.2/5.0)
It turns out it wasn’t sea salt and the Parmesan was actually the weakest link here. The bread was great if only because it was not soggy the way the last two have been.  The cheese held its own, and I would not be surprised if they told me the Thousand Island dressing was homemade.  I don’t think the meat was made in-house judging by the uniform pieces and cuts, but it was still a solid product.

Price – (4.6/5.0)
$7.45. The cost of living in Dallas is great. There is a ketchup dispenser on each table and free refills on the drinks.  It is super close to work and the service was quick. Overall, this is a great value proposition. You do drive right by a Whataburger to get here though. I really love Whataburger. I thought that maybe, after being back in Texas and eating it a few times, the novelty would wear off. Nope. Still love it and eat it probably more often than I should.  This Reuben definitely gives the #1 with cheese a run for its money.

The best part is that my co-worker picked up the tab. The big boss at work has this thing where he wants his managers to have lunch together and has challenged us to get out there and network. As a result, this was a “working” lunch. So thank you to The Man for picking up the tab.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.0/5.0)
I checked out the website before we went, and I really thought this place was going to be fancy. Afterwards, I realized I was looking at the website for Grill House Café in San Diego. That place is Mediterranean (I managed to get close enough to “Mediterranean”  for spell check to know what I was going for. The worst is when even spell check can’t figure out what the heck you are doing.) Anyways, this place is more mom-and-pop than I expected, and I liked it. It is pretty unassuming from the outside, located in a strip mall just off I-35E. When we got there it was pretty empty but had filled up a bit by the time we left. The folks in there seemed like regulars too.

Taste – (9.0/10.0)
It is nice to know I have a great Reuben close to work. Remember how disappointed I was with the Coppell Deli that was so close to my house? (My editor really thought I let them off the hook for the sub-par Reuben there). This Reuben really was fantastic and it is the simple product of good ingredients and even better execution. Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start. The bread has to be good, and it was. It was toasty and crunchy!  This is really the only chance a Reuben has for a contrast of textures. The contrast of flavors is all over the place by design, but if you don’t have toasty bread, you’re done.

This Reuben was also not too salty. The weird fries and the out of place stack of pickles were not as good as the sandwich itself. I think you can hold the pickles on a Reuben plate. I am sure the cook in the back has been told to put pickles on every plate as it comes out. I will work out a cheat-sheet for him next time to help him out. We can barely get young people to eat Reubens as it is, and they want to start showing them with pickles.

One of the other reviewers on Yelp mentioned the homemade sauce and I believe it. The Thousand Island for me really did make it.

Overall – (25.9/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes.  Even if it meant driving by a Whataburger to get there? Yes. It was that good and it is even better knowing that I have it close by.

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