Smoke Mountain? Really?
I have to question Arby’s name choice for their mammoth new Frankenmeat sandwich. To me, “Smoke Mountain” sounds like an ‘90s RPG level. Or a rundown laser tag arena that’s gotten progressively seedier since the ‘90s. Or a ‘90s punk band that broke up when the drummer’s dad kicked them out of the garage.
Maybe “Meat Everest” would’ve been a better name, since this the tallest stack of meat I’ve ever held between two buns. Plus I’ve always wanted my lunch to conjure up mental images of Sherpas scaling skyscraping mounds of salted protein.
But I guess “Smoke Mountain” isn’t all bad. It also sounds like the name of a late ‘90s reality show, and this sandwich features all three of Arby’s smoked meats—turkey, brisket, and their freshly debuted pork belly—living together under one bun, Real Housewives-style. Plus it did instantly make my car smell like a smokehouse, so much so that I half-expected a pot-bellied butcher to appear in my back seat and call me “Lloyd” in a Brooklyn accent.
I carefully handled my Smoke Mountain like a quiet mountaineer, trying to prevent an avalanche that would spill three kinds of animal onto my carpet. I bisected my beastly ‘wich—which was roughly the size of a baby Mayor McCheese’s head—for a better look (and taste). Slicing through it felt downright surgical.
The durable star-cut bun does a good job of holding its meaty tenants, and even though its chewy, densely floured innards don’t taste like much, the bun never turns to meat juice-soaked mush. The crimson barbeque sauce pocket slathered on the bun provides a welcome layer of peppery tang. It’s zippy, yet not offensive or spicy, like a grown-up Sweet Baby Ray’s.
Arby’s should bottle this sauce and call it “Angsty Teen Ray’s.”
As the world’s second biggest fan of onions (the first is Shrek), I loved the onion strings that bathe in the Smoke Mountain’s barbeque sauce. They’re oily and crisp, yet compellingly lengthy. The kid inside me wanted to slurp them up like onion ring-flavored spaghetti. These noodles lay on a bed of gummy, flavorless cheddar cheese that only gives the Smoke Mountain structural support.
Now that we’re past the window dressing, we can talk meats. The turkey is the most boring. It’s got a bit of Cajun zest that dances around its edges, but other than that, this bird just feels like filler.
The brisket is more complex. It tastes like barrel-aged roast beef, with woodsy notes and the smokiest aftertaste of any ingredient here. If this meaty ménage à trois were a sitcom instead of a reality show, the beef brisket would be its Ron Swanson.
The pork belly is the undeniable best of the bunch, as the diced bits are super juicy and savory, with an indulgent touch of fattiness. Each juice-oozing pig nugget tastes like the salty lovechild of a bacon slice and a BBQ spare rib. And given the size of every piece, the pork belly these oinker wedges came from must’ve been chunkier than my backseat butcher’s.
But even though each part of the Smoke Mountain has its own flavorful intricacies, most people who buy a sandwich called “Smoke Mountain” aren’t gonna stop to smell the Cajun-zested roses. When this sandwich is eaten at once, only the pork belly and onions prevail, with a lingering barbeque sauce aftertaste. I enjoyed the sandwich, but you’re probably better off just buying Arby’s Smokehouse Pork Belly Sandwich.
Unless, of course, you planned on making an “I Climbed Arby’s Smoke Mountain” novelty t-shirt.
(Nutrition Facts – 800 calories, 46 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 135 milligrams of cholesterol, 1910 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 49 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $6.99
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Using “fatty pig nuggets” as a sincere compliment. Brisket that tastes aged enough to be my father. Onion ramen. Humming the Price is Right cliffhanger music while I eat.
Cons: A pork belly that swallows up every other flavor. Cheese with the texture of a Fruit Roll-Up. A bun and turkey with as much personality as action movie henchmen. Giving birth to a burger-headed baby.