REVIEW: Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich

Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich

I don’t care what the textbooks say. I don’t care about the debates over the Reuben sandwich’s origins: whether it originated from a Nebraskan grocer’s weekly poker ritual or from a New York delicatessen’s signature “Reuben Special.”

In my eyes—and taste buds—the Reuben was obviously invented by Ruben Studdard. I mean, what else could Ruben have been up to after winning American Idol Season 2, while the more famous runner-up Clay Aiken became a Christmas album mainstay in my grandma’s CD player for years?

And before you ask how Ruben could invent the Reuben when the sandwich first appeared in the 1920s, the answer’s time travel. Duh. Next question.

Okay, that explanation may be more impractical than a Reuben Goldberg machine, but I needed a slipshod introduction for a sandwich as slipshod as Subway’s new Corned Beef Reuben. Because as I soon found out, expecting a fast food joint to do justice to the Reuben’s nearly 100-year legacy was a bit unrealistic.

Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich 2

But let’s start with the rye highs. The popularity of Subway’s Italian Herbs & Cheese and Honey Oat breads suggests that consumers like their bread studded with enough stuff to make a BeDazzler blush, and Subway’s new Rye bread fulfills that desire by baking lightly crunchy caraway seeds into every sub.

The bread itself is dense, earthy, and spiced, while the seeds pop with a sweet anise bite. The taste may be slightly too sour for Hawaiian roll or Wonder Bread veterans, but fans of aged, yeasty bread will appreciate its subtleties.

My only gripe is that the rye isn’t marbled, though that kind of doughy swirl might’ve looked too much like a rolled yoga mat for Subway’s liking.

Meat and cheese are this Reuben’s other strongest elements. While the corned beef isn’t particularly juicy, potently peppered, or too different from Subway roast beef, it’s still thick, tender, and salty enough to give the sandwich a savory, meaty twang.

By which I mean you’ll want to twang an acoustic guitar string after each bite.

The Swiss cheese is an underrated, binding force in Subway’s Reuben. It may have all the complexity of a melted Kraft Single, but it still brings creamy dairy balance to the bread and sauerkraut’s sourness.

Speaking of the sauerkraut: it’s bad, and that’s coming from someone who adores sauerkraut enough to give it an honorary seat at his wedding. Subway’s sauerkraut is far too wet, mushy, and flavorlessly acidic, lacking the light crispness and pickled intricacies of good sauerkraut. But I suppose if I were mashed into a cube and left under Subway’s sneeze guard all day, I’d feel sad and squishy, too.

And the Thousand Island Dressing? It’s barely there, providing a light, underlying fatty flavor with faint mayo and tomato notes. I’d say I only tasted three islands at most, and one of those was Rhode Island, whose authentic island status is questionable at best.

Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich 3

Eating the sandwich together, I mostly taste a sour-sweet war between sauerkraut and bread, while the Reuben’s less flavorful, meaty and creamy children beg their parents to stop fighting. It’s far from authentic, and your limited Reuben enjoyment will hinge on your ingredient balance: I recommend going light on ‘kraut, doubling up on cheese, and getting dressing on the side to add at your discretion.

Better yet, take the $5.25 you could’ve spent on a 6” Subway Reuben to Walmart deli and buy enough loose ingredients to assemble a much tastier haphazard Reuben in the parking lot. Just don’t forget to play Clay Aiken’s Merry Christmas with Love in the car while you do it.

(Nutrition Facts – 6” sandwich, no vegetables – 450 calories, 15 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1770 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 38 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.25
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: BeDazzlingly good rye bread. Guitar strummingly decent corned beef. The complimentarily congealing properties of a Swiss Kraft Single. Parking lot deli sandwiches. Sending my warmest regards to Ruben Studdard, wherever he may be.
Cons: Not authentically Reuben-esque (Reubenic?) enough to justify the cost. Sauerkraut that leaves me sour. Thousand Island Dressing that’s 997 islands short. Not being able to make a “Why? Bread” joke because the bread was actually good.

7 thoughts to “REVIEW: Subway Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich”

    1. I Love a Rueben ! So I went to the subway in ‘Macon ,GA” on Zebulon Rd with my dad an mom, ! My Mom had never eaten a Rueben an after this experience she will,never ever again

      1. Sad to hear, Stefanie…our Subway in Maine is well run, clean and the whole range of menu sandwiches are delicious…I purchase $100. cards regularly…our Rubens were made right, toasted and tasty…Tell Mom to try a different Subway, something is wrong there.

  1. Love Rubens … Always have, today was special because Subway Bath stacked the corned beef, ample sauerkraut topped with melted Swiss cheese…lots of yellow mustard at a decent price…it was my turn to cook so I came home a WINNER. Many thanks , Bath Subway…

  2. I couldn’t agree more with the pros and cons. I bit into a slice of cabbage “stalk” and couldn’t figure out what it was. They basically could just put boiled, unseasoned cabbage on it. They need to research what 1000 island dressing is. The bread and the corned beef could stand alone, excellent!

  3. A couple of days ago as I finished shopping at WalMart in York, SC. I stopped by the Subway located at the entrance to the store. Now I love reuben sandwiches, so I decided to try Subway’s version. Big mistake! I asked for the footlong size and was a little surprised when the young lady told me that I owed nearly $10 for the sandwich. (I know; the price was posted. I’m just used to paying $6 or $7 for a footlong.) First of all the bread: Tough and chewy with only a faint rye bread taste. The kraut had NO kraut flavor. As far as the meat goes; how in the world do they call this ‘corned beef’? Absolutely NO corned beef flavor. Can’t say very much about the swiss cheese. There wasn’t enough to taste. I will continue to go the Subway for my cold cut sandwiches but I’m done with their ‘specialty’ sandwiches.

  4. Good job revealing your wretched taste in music at the end there. You should cower away in shame and listen to something with more teeth next time.

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