REVIEW: Arby’s Steakhouse Sub

Arby's Steakhouse Sub

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 – 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 – 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 Sub

Price: $2.99

Size: 1 sandwich

Purchased at: Arby’s

Rating: 3 out of 10

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.

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.

15 thoughts to “REVIEW: Arby’s Steakhouse Sub”

  1. When I went to Arby’s last week, looking for the Strawberry Banana Split Milkshake, they not only didn’t have the shake they also didn’t have this. The Arby’s near me suck. They don’t accept coupons and they don’t have limited edition products.

    1. I’ve actually taken to putting my pride aside and calling my local fast food joints ahead of time to make sure they are carrying new and/or limited edition menu items. Of course, just because they say they do carry it doesn’t actually mean it’s there when I get there. Or that they’ll fill my order correctly. It’s a tough job, but we persevere.

  2. I love Arby’s sauce and when I am there I take a few extra packets of it….shhh…don’t tell anyone!!! Arby’s is great for their curly fries but really a steakhouse sub? I don’t think any fast food place should ever to deliver a true steak sandwich unless they are Steak n’ Shake…which isn’t technically fast food.

  3. I usually don’t care for Arbys unless they are giving away free sandwiches.

    I do however like the Arbys Horsey sauce!!!

  4. I will admit that Horsey Sauce is the best thing to come out of Arby’s. And they actually use cream cheese in their jalapeño poppers.

  5. Charley’s lineup of steak subs would probably chase this guy home all the way from the playground.

    And then kick his ass while his mom watched from the front porch.

  6. I hate Arby’s. The curly fries are decent, but I miss the classic cut ones. Do they even have the potato cakes now? Those were my favorite. I also miss the chicken strips, which were replaced by the popcorn chicken.

    I get that there’s only so much you can do with roast beef…but this seems like only a step above the gross Roast Burgers of last summer. I do like their shakes and their Arby’s sauce is good on the regular Arby’s melt…but like others, Arby’s is always last choice for fast food.

    For the record, we feed our dog and cat their pills wrapped up in a piece of Carl Budig roast beef (or turkey.) We call it doggy meat because it doesn’t look fit for human consumption.

  7. I personally find Arby’s good in their own way. I just find them underrated as well.

    Besides, some people just do not know better if they expect something of the highest quality in a FAST FOOD chain.

    1. Oh, I’m not looking for quality in fast food. I don’t go to a Taco Bell expecting to get an awesome, fresh, authentic taco. I go there to indulge myself with fast, greasy, unhealthy, processed food that tastes good in a different way than going to a nice restaurant.

  8. LOL – Carl Buddig! Us too!!! Thanks for conjuring up such a vivid memory for me.

    1. I am both relieved and sorry that I am not alone. I also take no responsibility in therapy bills incurred by bringing forth repressed memories.

  9. I do Arby’s once in a blue moon….I have been on weight watchers for 16 months now, so that has kind of made Arby’s a less than ideal choice. I loved their french dip sub however. Which this seems to be a clone of with the addition of peppercorn sauce and onion frizzles.

    That, and the coupons for the 5 for 5 arby’s melts and jamocha shakes…with potato cakes and cranberry spicy sauce… 🙁 part of me wants to be a fat ass again.

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