Arby’s is like the middle child of the fast food industry. You’ve got the oldest child, represented by places like McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell. They’ve been around, they’re reliable and you know you can trust them to be there when you need them. Then there’s the baby of the family, that local place that you dote upon â€“ that one little burger joint on Center Street or the musty taqueria that is probably violating at least a half dozen health codes. You tell your friends about them, even show them some pictures, not realizing that they honestly don’t care.
Then there’s Arby’s.
Sure, it’s always hanging around, but its cries for attention go largely ignored. It shuffles its feet, wondering when someone will notice the uniqueness, the ingenuity of its shaved beef sandwiches. It’s even tried other tactics to gain your attention, like its line of Market Fresh sandwiches, which got put on the fridge but was promptly covered up by Wendy’s B+ on her calculus test.
Badly-constructed analogies and sweeping generalizations about a whole nation’s opinion on Arby’s aside, their latest arm-waving “look at me!” creation goes even further, with the limited-edition Steakhouse Sub.
The commercial itself is a sad thing to see: a man is parked literally a few feet away from an actual steakhouse, and then decides to go to Arby’s instead. He is already at a steakhouse that serves real steak. I believe he describes Arby’s new sandwich as a “steakhouse dream,” but by then my brain had already exited my skull, carrying a bindle and sticking its thumb out in a desperate attempt to get as far away from my television as possible, so don’t quote me on that.
What exactly makes this sandwich such a “dream?” According to Arby’s, “When you’re craving that big Steakhouse taste, this sub delivers. We piled our classic, thinly sliced roast beef with melted Swiss cheese and crispy onions on a toasted ciabatta roll and topped it all off with our zesty cracked peppercorn sauce.”
If you’ve never had an Arby’s roast beef sandwich before, imagine the roast beef being a notch or two above the packet of Carl Buddig “Beef” that your mom used to pack in your lunch for school. Or was that just my mom?
Great, yet another childhood trauma I’ll have to bring up with my therapist at our next appointment. Anyway, Arby’s roast beef is thinly sliced, quite salty, and if you try really hard, you can even detect a vague taste of beef. But that’s about all you’re going to get out of it.
The onions added zero flavor or texture to the sandwich. Arby’s claims they are “crispy onions.” Mine were anything but. I ate some of the stragglers on my plate that had escaped from the Steakhouse Sub, and they were soggy, tough and chewy. It’s like they took a can of French’s French Fried Onions and let them sit in a deep frier for half an hour.
The sauce was actually quite nice on its own; I would even venture to agree with Arby’s claims of it being “zesty.” Much like the onions, it seemed to get swallowed up by the rest of the sandwich and I couldn’t really taste it unless my tongue was in direct contact with the sauced bun. I went to check out the ingredient list and there must have been 50 of them in the sauce alone, but I think the inclusion of steak sauce was probably what gave it a little zing. Or it could have been the disodium inosinate. Who can tell?
Part of the reason I couldn’t feel the chewy texture of the onions was that the ciabatta roll itself was overly chewy. Taking a bite of the Steakhouse Sub felt a bit like I was a puppy wrestling with a rope toy; to tear through the bread, I had to whip my head back and forth with my teeth firmly dug into the bun. I may have even growled once or twice, I’m not entirely sure.
Okay, so it wasn’t that bad, but I do think that the bread-to-fillings ratio was tipped too heavily in the former’s favor, especially when it came to the sauce and the onions. I got a few bites where I could taste a little zip from the sauce, but the onions added nothing, and most bites were just a mouthful of bread and some mildly beefy-tasting slices of meat.
If Arby’s thinks their Steakhouse Sub is something that’s going to lure someone already at a steakhouse to their nearest Arby’s drive-thru, they need to head out to a Black Angus Steakhouse and do a little R&D. The fact that I’m using Black Angus as my example of a steakhouse taste they should emulate should speak volumes in and of itself.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1 sandwich (268 grams) – 750 calories, 360 calories from fat, 40 grams of total fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,970 milligrams of sodium, 67 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, 30 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 4% vitamin C, 15% calcium and 20% iron.)
Item: Arby’s Steakhouse Subâ€¨
Size: 1 sandwichâ€¨
Purchased at: Arby’sâ€¨
Rating: 3 out of 10â€¨
Pros: Cracked peppercorn sauce was zesty, if you licked the bun. Actual steakhouses. Fair-sized sandwich for the price. Hobo bindles. Making sweeping generalizations about other people’s opinions.â€¨
Cons: Too much chewy ciabatta drowning out other flavors. Tough, un-crisp onions. Being the middle child. Arby’s roast beef in general. Playing tug-of-war with my lunch. Carl Buddig.