REVIEW: Arby’s Liger Shake

Arby s Liger Shake

Heading into this limited-time-only product, I knew three things about ligers:

  • It’s the technical name for the offspring of a male lion and female tiger (the inverse, in case you were wondering, is called a tigon.)
  • There’s a famous Japanese wrestler named Jushin “Thunder” Liger, who was inspired by a short-lived anime of the same name (why he has a head shaped like a demonic pinata, though, I can’t explain.)
  • It’s Napoleon Dynamite’s favorite animal.

It’s an unorthodox name for a novelty milkshake, but after you’ve tried Arby’s newfangled beverage it all makes sense. The Liger Shake isn’t called that just because it looks like a pair of Cincinnati Bengals Zubaz workout pants in drinkable form – it truly is the harmonious synthesis of two distinct flavors that you’d never expect to merge together so well.

Arby s Liger Shake

The Liger Shake’s hook is pretty straightforward. It’s half orange cream – think, a ritzier version of that sherbet stuff we all ate in elementary school – and half Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream, with several rings of sludgier, in-house chocolate syrup tying everything together. Naturally, there’s also a hearty dollop of whipped cream to top things off, which makes comparisons to the beverages sold at a certain ubiquitous coffee chain all but unavoidable.

Unlike the Unicorn Frappuccino, however, this competing, swirl-centric offering from Arby’s is a classic milkshake through and through. While I’ve never been particularly fond of orange or chocolate-flavored shakes, combining the two makes for an unexpectedly satisfying combination. I guess the best thing to liken the Liger Shake to are Terry’s Chocolate Orange products – you know, those aluminum foil wrapped delicacies on store shelves every Christmas – mixed with the traditional Wendy’s Frosty.

Arby s Liger Shake 3

The shake has a very nice congealed consistency and the flavors mingle together quite well without either becoming too dominant. Somehow, someway, the fast food wizards at Arby’s managed to keep the orange-to-chocolate flavor ratio at an even-keel, and the end product is certain to please chocoholics and citrus-holics alike.

If I had to be a nitpicker, I’d take a few points off for the whipped cream (it has a nice aesthetic, but it gets milky fast and muddles with the flavor a bit) and the perhaps too sludgy chocolate swirls, which have a texture and overall mouthfeel that just doesn’t gel with the rest of the ingredients. That said, those minor flaws can easily be overlooked seeing how yummy the product taken as a whole is, and for less than three bucks, you simply can’t complain about the volume you’re getting here.

And as a nice bonus, this is one of the few fast food shakes that seems impervious to freezer burn. My leftover Liger Shake tasted just as flavorful and filling after two nights in the freezer as it did fresh out of the drive-thru lane – an attribute we can only pin on the product’s sturdy, crossbred genetics, perhaps?

(Nutrition Facts – Large – 680 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of total fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 440 milligrams of sodium, 116 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 104 grams of sugar, 15 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.89
Size: Large
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The drink has a nice, creamy consistency. The orange and chocolate flavors mix together surprisingly well. Even the smaller version will fill you up.
Cons: The whipped cream doesn’t add a whole lot to the experience. The chocolate “rings” don’t complement the rest of the shake as well as they could. Wondering how long it’ll be before Arby’s rolls out their Zebroid, Wholphin and Beefalo follow-up shakes.

REVIEW: Arby’s Pizza Slider

Arby s Pizza Slider

Simple is good. You don’t need to reinvent the proverbial wheel for a limited time product to work – you just have to switch up the core idea of a product and present it as aesthetically and gustatorily pleasing as possible.

Arby’s all-new Pizza Sliders are a great example of fast food minimalism. It’s not too ambitious, it’s not too gimmicky, and it doesn’t try to be anything bigger or better than it really is. It’s just a gloriously uncomplicated minor tweak to the chain’s tried-and-true Sliders formula and that makes for a great value-priced (read: dollar menu) offering.

Arby s Pizza Slider 2

It’s basically a miniature version of your classic Italian sub sammich. There’s a big chunk of pepperoni, several meaty chunks of Genoa salami, a hearty smattering of melted provolone cheese and a dollop of roasted garlic marinara sauce wedged in between the “mini-buns,” which are actually much larger than you’d expect them to be (for comparative purposes, I’d say they’re about twice the size of the mini-burgers at White Castle and Krystal.)

Arby s Pizza Slider 3

If you’re trying to stretch a dollar, you’re definitely going to get your money’s worth here. Don’t let the “miniature” gimmick fool you, these things are remarkably dense and surprisingly filling. I ordered three of them and by the time I put down the third Slider I felt as if I had crammed down a full-sized meatball hoagie.

Arby s Pizza Slider 5

But not all is well in Pizza Slider Town. The sandwich is also very salty, packing a walloping 930 milligrams of sodium. That’s about half the sodium content you’d find in something like Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr.’s Baby Back Rib Thickburger, a competing LTO burger easily three times the slider’s girth. So if you tear into these things sans a beverage on the side, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.

Arby s Pizza Slider 4

It’s a minor point of contention, but I also thought the marinara sauce could’ve been better (and, believe it or not, it’s not the same stuff Arby’s uses for its mozzarella sticks.) The sauce here is less tangy and more watery, and could really benefit from a pulpier blend and just a wee bit more garlic or oregano. It’s no deal breaker, though – and since the burger is only a buck, I suppose I can let it slide (get it, because it’s called a Slider?)

Terrible puns aside, these things are just dandy. They’re yummy, satisfying and super-duper affordable — essentially, everything you want out of a seasonal fast food item. And as far as imitation pizzas go, these things beat the susceptor-coated sleeves off Hot Pockets’ wannabe pizza sandwiches in overall quality and price.

(Nutrition Facts – 300 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 930 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The sandwiches have a LOT of pepperoni and salami on them. The melted mozzarella is fairly flavorful. Despite their stature, they are astonishingly filling.
Cons: The marinara sauce is kinda’ weak. All that sodium will have you chugging Aquafina like your uvula is on fire. Having no idea which packet of sauce to ask for to accompany the sandwich.

REVIEW: Arby’s Traditional Greek Gyro

Arby s Traditional Greek Gyro

Thank heavens this isn’t a video review because I’m still not sure how to say gyro correctly.

It got me thinking that I hope one day this item is popular enough to be on the same playing field with something like fajitas, which I can currently call fa-jee-tas but it’s okay because everybody knows I’m saying it wrong on purpose to be funny.

For gyros?? Definitely can’t play that game. If Arby’s new Traditional Greek Gyro is any indicator for what’s in store, though, then our future is looking very lamprós (the Greek word for bright).

This gyro is certainly traditional as there are just the basic set of ingredients you would hope to find in one – the meat, tzatziki sauce, gyro seasoning, red onion, tomatoes, and shredded iceberg lettuce all nestled up in a warm flatbread.

The vegetables were okay and pretty much the type that you would find at most fast food joints. If I had to nitpick it would be wishing that the lettuce could have been a bit crunchier. The tzatziki sauce was abundant bringing the many dry components together but the taste didn’t really punch me in the face with flavor.

Arby s Traditional Greek Gyro 2

The flatbread, well, it pains me to say this because I absolutely love fluffy bread, but in this instance it was just too darn fluffy. My first few bites were nothing but bread until I made it to the center where the insides were more plentiful and could counterbalance.

Arby’s though is all about the meat, right? I mean THEY HAVE THE MEATS don’t they? Living up to their tagline the gyro meat in this was really, really good even if the amount was a bit on the light side. The meat was speckled with herbs and spices and the flavor was seriously spot on. The pieces were even shaped as if they had just been sliced off of a vertical rotisserie! Even with the lackluster other components, the meat definitely made up for them, meaning that I really did enjoy this gyro.

I got two as you can see below in the purchased price and very quickly gobbled both up. I hope it returns in the future, maybe with some new variations. As long as the meat stays as flavorful I would definitely indulge again and hopefully by then I can butcher the pronunciation, but on purpose this time.

(Nutrition Facts – 710 calories, 390 calories from fat, 44 grams of fat,13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1360 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 23 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.00 (2 for $6 deal)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Both visually appealing and great tasting meat. Arby’s getting an A in the subject of Attention to Detail. Renewed hope for a future where gyros and fajitas can stand side by side in popularity.
Cons: Too Fluffy flatbread that can sometimes takes over. Shredded lettuce that continues to underwhelm in fast food.

REVIEW: Arby’s Meat Mountain

Arby’s Meat Mountain

Not since the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Most American Thickburger – or maybe that one Pizza Hut variation that had pigs-in-a-blanket as the crust – has there been a fast food offering as audacious as Arby’s Meat Mountain.

So monstrous this tribute to American ingenuity/gluttony that the cashier actually ASKED me if I was serious when I ordered it. In fact, I had to tell her “yes” no less than three times before she rang up the purchase.

Arby’s Meat Mountain 2

You remember those old episodes of Scooby Doo when Shaggy would get the munchies and come marching out of the kitchen with a towering sandwich filled with who-knows-what all the way to the ceiling? Well, that’s pretty much what Meat Mountain is. Underneath one greasy star-cut bun, you get all of the following ingredients: angus beef, cheddar cheese, chicken tenders, corned beef, pepper bacon, pit-smoked ham, roast beef, roast turkey, smoked brisket, and Swiss cheese.

So basically, it’s like eating Noah’s Ark in sandwich form. It’s a 1,000-calories plus behemoth that doesn’t even fit in the company’s stock wrappers – my order came in a wadded up ball of wax paper that, folded out on the table, came out to nearly two feet in length.

Arby’s Meat Mountain 3

Arby’s Meat Mountain 4

In that, I suppose Meat Mountain is more of a limited-time-challenge than a limited-time-offering. You don’t eat it for the pleasurable gustatory sensation, you eat it because it’s a direct threat to your manhood (or womanhood.) One does not simply review Meat Mountain; rather, one seeks to survive it.

Not that it’s a surprise to anybody, but the sandwich is definitely a hassle to eat. It’s so big you really can’t fit your mouth around it without taking out a layer or two of meat first, so you may find yourself tearing chunks of Meat Mountain apart instead of shoveling it down your throat (let’s call that one the velociraptor technique.)

Arby’s Meat Mountain 5

Does the medley of meats come together harmoniously? Not really, but it’s still pretty awesome. It’s not so much the divergent tastes of the product that’s weird as it is the alternating textures. One bite it’s crunchy and a little spicy, the next it’s sinewy and chewy and just a wee bit soggy. That said, getting a mouthful of cow, chicken, pig and turkey all at once does make you feel like a khakis-clad T-Rex, and ultimately, that’s the feeling you’re paying $10 for.

One look at this thing and you’ll know right away whether or not you can handle it. Just one word of caution for all you iron-stomached adventurers out there, who think you’re ready to go napkin to napkin with this mammoth burger: while the sandwich isn’t as oily as you’d expect, it is unbelievably salty, packing a whopping 3,000-plus milligrams of sodium. So be sure you have a cola nearby before tackling this beastly creation – or at the very least, a sizable armada of Arby’s sauces.

Arby’s Meat Mountain 6

(Nutrition Facts – 1,030 calories, 460 calories from fat, 51 grams of total fat, 20 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 225 milligrams of cholesterol, 3,640 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugars, 87 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $10
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Being able to eat an entire barnyard in one sitting. The feeling of savory, crispy bacon dancing next to corned beef on your tongue. Dipping your turkey-chicken-beef-ham-bacon sammich into a pool of horseradish-pepper-ketchup-and-honey-mustard sauce and realizing what it’s like to be the king of all existence for a few fleeting seconds.
Cons: EVERYTHING is super-duper-extra-salty. Some of the meats don’t gel together well at all. The look on the cashier’s face when you ask if it comes in a vegan-friendly version.

REVIEW: Arby’s Venison Sandwich

Arby’s Venison Sandwich

Note: This guest review was written by our internet buddy Russ Shelly from What’s Good at Trader Joe’s.

Tension and anticipation filled the cool early morning, day after Thanksgiving air. The nervous glances and small talk only added to the edge. The crowd was gathering, just moments before opening, and we all knew what we there for. The only question was, who would be first, and who would be left empty-handed. There were just limited quantities, after all. We all knew it.

Slowly, the manager approached. The door was going to be unlocked. This was the moment. We all pressed in, just waiting for that click…

The kindly manager opened the door, nervously smiled and cheerfully said, ”Welcome to Arby’s!”

What, you thought we were lining up at Macy’s on Black Friday for $50 off an at-home hair removal kit? Don’t be ridiculous, this was all about the Arby’s Venison Sandwich being testmarketed at select stores only.

Gotta say it: For this sandwich, Bambi’s mom has got it going on. It’s a very simple construct: A 5.5-ounce slab of marinated deer steak, a semi-generous splash of juniper sauce, and onion straws all held by the typical Arby’s star cut bun used in their other specialty sandwiches.

Arby’s Venison Sandwich 3

Let’s break it down, starting with the obvious star: the venison. Apparently from farm-raised deer in New Zealand, the meat is marinated in a simple spice blend of garlic, salt and pepper, with the pepper being the strongest element. The steak is slow cooked, sous-vide style, for several hours resulting in a tender, medium-well cooked steak that is lean without any elements of stringiness or chewiness. If you’re not familiar with venison as an edible meat, think high quality beef, and that’s a decent enough approximation for the uninitiated. There’s not a lot of inherent gamey flavor, which some will see as a plus.

Arby’s Venison Sandwich 2

The sauce and straw sidekicks really add to the overall appeal. It’s a sweet-style barbecue flavor for the sauce, with juniper berries adding a unique, slightly sweet yet tart tinge. Maybe the berries were my deer’s last meal. That’s…perhaps morbid. But it’s a good thing, as the berry flavor adds a “wild” dimension that a typical BBQ sauce wouldn’t. The onion straws put in a clean, crispy bite, with a little grease, with the onion flavor helping bridge the gap between the garlic and pepper of the deer and the sweetness of the sauce. In a lot of ways, the onion straws are like Lebowski’s rug: easy to overlook, but they really tie it all together. No cheese or lettuce or tomato here, and none are needed.

If there’s a weak spot for the sandwich, it’s the bun. Not that it’s bad bread – it isn’t. But it’s much bigger than the deer steak, and while it’s up to the task of holding it all together without getting overwhelmed, the overall feel of the sandwich is that it’s a tad too bready. Where the steak was a little thinner, or there wasn’t as much onions or sauce, the bread really took over and dampened the much more flavorful elements.

The Arby’s Venison Sandwich was rolled out in a testing phase in only 17 Arby’s locations nationwide, most of them in popular hunting areas. Gathering by the amount of camo in the crowd, and the fact that I had only about the fourth most impressive beard (male division), it’s a hit. Within twenty minutes, the store I was at (Bellevue, PA) had sold out of at least 75 percent of its allocated inventory…and that is slow sales compared to other restaurant sites. But then, again, it was 10:20 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, so much of the nation was either a) shopping for $5 off electronic toothbrushes or b) recovering from riding the turkey-and-gravy train from the day before.

I’ll admit I wasn’t even hungry when I sat down to eat the sandwich, but when my first was polished off, it was good enough for me to consider having my second right then and there. I settled for taking it home and reheating for dinner, which worked better than one would expect.

Gauging by the enthusiasm of the rest of the dining room as well as the friendly Arby’s managers roving around asking for input, there seems to be a good shot of the venison sandwich catching on as a much wider release. It’s superb meatcraft, and I already can’t wait for the commercials with that deep gravelly booming voice.

Here’s to hoping that in 2017 the venison will be coming to an Arby’s near you.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available.)

Purchased Price: $5 (test market price)
Size: N/A
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Expertly made venison. Awesome sauce. Being lucky enough to eat not one but two of these before any of you even had a chance.
Cons: A bit too bready at points. Reliving the death of Bambi’s mom.