REVIEW: Arby’s Cajun Fish Sandwich

Arby s Cajun Fish Sandwich

When I think of things that scream Americana, I think regional flavors, wholesome activities I never learned to do like fishing, and chicly decorated fast food restaurants that blare Kacey Musgraves music from their dining room halls. It makes sense, then, that Arby’s decided to welcome in 2019 with a regional take on its seasonal fish sandwich.

Now, I’m not from Louisiana, but I did once rack up a $103.67 bill at a John Besh restaurant. So, I have some experience with the stereotypical (and delicious) Cajun flavors, including the bayou’s take on aioli, remoulade.

Nominally, the remoulade makes Arby’s newest variation of its fish sandwich “Cajun.” I say nominally because Arby’s could have gone the extra mile and stacked shrimp, crawfish, and andouille sausage on top of the triangular fish stick that constitutes the (not-meat) of the sandwich. Overkill? Maybe, but we are talking Arby’s. If venison and pork belly can make it into the fast food world, then shellfish can’t immediately be ruled out.

Arby s Cajun Fish Sandwich Fish

The lack of gumbo-on-a-bun notwithstanding, the sandwich has some Cajun flavor. Emphasis on the some. The remoulade is zesty, with a slight back-heat and just enough sweetness to give that iceberg lettuce a bit of extra flavor, and a composition somewhere between creamy and bumpy (yes, bumpy). But, much like the fish itself, it’s relatively plain, like a slightly spicier version of tartar sauce (which, coincidentally, has nothing to do with steak tartare.)

Arby s Cajun Fish Sandwich Toppiings

Even with the double-sided application, the remoulade fails to achieve optimal bun-protein-sauce ratio, mostly due to the oblong state of the fish and the circumference of the bun. This result is different tasting bites—some more prominent with the fish, others more bun, still others the whole fish and caboodle. And while the fish is executed perfectly — crispy, mild, flaky — it begs for a more assertive guiding flavor.

I get it: Each year, fast food chains attempt to position themselves in the fish sandwich wars with a “new” and updated take on what is actually a very boring sandwich blueprint. And, sometimes, something as simple as adding a sauce makes all the difference. But in the case of Arby’s Cajun Fish Sandwich, the remoulade is a little too mild, and a little too sparse to do the bayou justice.

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 590 calories, 260 calories from fat, 29 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1060 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of total carbohydrates, 43grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 20 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Arby’s Arbynator

Arby's Arbynator

If there’s one thing I’ve always said loudly and proudly, when it comes to fast food roast beef, Arby’s Sandwiches are the best in the business. And the horsey-drenched souls there have unleashed the massive monster that is the Arbynator.

Composed of everything in a typical Arby’s combo meal – roast beef sandwich, curly fries, and cheddar cheese sauce – along with just about every sauce available over the counter including Arby’s sauce and Horsey sauce, this mammoth pile of meat is a two-handed mankiller sent from the bleak future to our bleaker present to destroy our collective hungers, if only for one solitary day. No fate.

Available in three aggrandizing sizes – the Classic, the Double, and the Lord-have-mercy Half-Pound – I stuck with the relatively responsible Classic variation for this outing.

Arby's Arbynator 2

Even though the sesame seed bun was mostly flattened, it pretty much did look like the promotional picture, with the scads of roast beef lazily flopping out as the hot cheese dripped down its side, mixing deliciously with the other assorted sauces. The fries, however, were tucked away like a surprise.

Just as immodestly thick as the pile of roast beef is, when you hit the curly fries, the sheer amount of them on the Arbynator seem a little bigger than a handful. The twirling tubers are a welcomed treat to crunch into as you began your dank voyage into this dangerous sandwich. The fries and roast beef are a delightful combination that kids have been doing for years much to their mother’s chagrin. The mixture of tart sauces pays off nicely with lip-puckering goodness.

Arby's Arbynator 3

If the sandwich has any flaw, it’s probably that it has far too much meat for one sitting, even in its Classic portion. There’s no way an Average Joe will down the Arbynator during his lunch hour, head back to the office, and not put his head down for a long winter’s nap. It’s too darn much.

Layer after layer of roast beef and stack after stack of curly fries and glug after glug of cheese sauce might sound like a great thing on paper, but when it’s right in front of you, daring you to devour it, this is where the decisions that follow us around for the rest of our lives are made.

So, I guess if I’m saying anything, have half for lunch and eat the other half on your way home from work. Unless, of course, your job is “professional napper” in which case, have two on me. Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: Classic
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 560 calories, 25 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 1630 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 25 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Arby’s Smokehouse Beef Short Rib Sandwich and Loaded Curly Fries

Arby s Smokehouse Beef Short Rib Sandwich

America’s favorite fast food punching bag, Arby’s, should stick to the one thing they do best: roast beef sandwiches.

Think about it: have you ever, in your life, stopped what you’re doing and made a beeline for the joint because you simply had to nosh on its gyro or down a fish sandwich pronto? Has a day ever been made better by one of its ice coffee drinks? Ever sat at work daydreaming about a big bowl of those curly fries, well, okay, I’ll give you the curly fries. But, still, Arby’s meandering attempt to enter the barbeque game — one of many, I’m sure — by putting a beef short rib sandwich on the menu is mediocre at best.

Utilizing the mainly fatty beef parts of the aforementioned short rib, an admittedly nice big handful of that cheap cut is packed between two thick slices of mostly toasted Texas toast and topped with soggy fried onions, misplaced melted cheddar cheese and a little slight drizzle of barbeque sauce to give it more of that down-home back-country feel. It doesn’t work, but kudos for trying, Arby’s.

As I took as large a bite as my medium mouth could allow, I tasted more of the sauce than the meat which is never a good sign, especially when it Arby’s barbeque sauce. However, pulling a few pieces of the short rib out to taste by its lonesome, I can see why; the meat was a bit dry, and a good dollop of that sickly sauce gave it its much needed (but still pretty unwanted) flavor.

Additionally, that fraudulent smoky sauce seeped deep into the bread as well, so there’s that if you’re big into sticky, damp bread.

Arby s Smokehouse Beef Short Rib Loaded Curly Fries

Alongside the Short Rib Sandwich, Arby’s has a quasi-companion piece taking the form of Short Rib Loaded Fries which are exactly how they sound: a decent pile of their quintessential curly fries, bastardized with short rib meat, even more melted cheddar cheese, and a whole mess of that barbeque sauce to give them a sense of purpose and meaning.

It’s an unapologetically mishmash of flavors, none of which seemingly belong together in the slightest. The corporate entity barbeque sauce sweetens, almost to a fault, the mildly limp fries. Meanwhile, the short rib meat makes a pretty garnish but not a very useful tater topping, big clumps falling everywhere, just looking for that Texas toast.

For a nice size bowl of these loaded fries—loaded fries being my favorite of all fries, honestly, it’s kind of a wasted effort. Give me some plain curlies and few packs of Horsey Sauce and I’m gold, kid.

Arby’s, your bold experimentalism let me down again, but don’t worry: come Christmastime I promise I’ll be back in line for your five roast beef sandwiches for five bucks. You all still do that, right? Please tell me you do.

(Nutrition Facts – Sandwich – 590 calories, 28 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1510 milligrams of sodium, 59 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 26 grams of protein. Loaded Curly Fries – 730 calories, 41 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 2300 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.99 (sandwich)
Size: N/A
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Sandwich)
Rating: 2 out of 10 (Loaded Curly Fries)
Pros: Lots of meat. Good to see Texas toast on the menu. Chance to visit your local Arby’s.
Cons: Barbeque sauce too “fake sweet.” Soggy onions and bread. Cheese sauce not like I remember.

REVIEW: Arby’s Gyro Loaded Curly Fries

Arby s Gyro Loaded Curly Fries

After venison sandwiches, the monstrous Meat Mountain, and a mustard-slathered Cuban, I suppose the old Athenian route was one of the few remaining avenues left for Arby’s to explore.

Enter the Gyro Loaded Curly Fries, a limited-time-only companion piece to Arby’s armada of Greek-themed seasonal items such as the Greek Gyro Salad and the, uh, just plain old Gyro.

Arby’s proprietary Curly Fries, I suppose, need no introduction. We all know how fantastic they are. This newfangled edition ups the ante with a nice mixture of traditional gyro ingredients, including Tzatziki sauce, red onions, diced tomatoes and, of course, a heaping helping of gyro meat (which, in this instance, is a combination of beef and lamb.)

Two things make this dish stand out. First, the spices are really good. Of course, since I don’t work there I have no idea what the local Arby’s is putting in these things, but my well-traveled taste buds picked up all sorts of flavors that are more than atypical for a fast food haunt, including what appears to be cumin and coriander. For something you can pick up via a drive-thru window, this thing tastes astonishingly comparable to “real” Greek cuisine.

Secondly, the Tzatziki sauce is outstanding. My big fear was that it would be either too weak and watery or too thick and overpowering, but give the meat maestros at Arby’s some credit, they came pretty darn close to striking a nearly perfect balance on this one. It’s extremely unlikely, but I’d love to see this delicious yogurt become a permanent addition to the sauce bar.

Your mileage will vary on the quality of the meat. The slivers are a little chewier than you’d expect, and the very well seasoned exterior might be a turn off to those of you with blander appetites. I guess my biggest gripe is that the chunks of gyro meat are just too small and too few and far in-between the fries. Really, you’d need to get a double order of meat for the meat-to-fries ratio to come out even, so do keep that in mind before you flip open your wallet.

Arby s Gyro Loaded Curly Fries 2

The tomatoes and red onions are kind of an afterthought. The former are so small and inconsequential that you barely taste them and the latter are probably a wee bit too big and overpowering compared to the rest of the dish. Simply put, the fries and the onions just don’t gel at all in terms of taste and mouthfeel, no matter how much sauce you add into the mix. I’d recommend skipping the onions altogether, but hey – that’s just my personal preference.

On the whole, this is a much better than anticipated side item. It’s filling and feels fresh. Of course, it’s not for all tastes, but as long as you’ve got a penchant for spicier offerings, you’ll probably get a kick out of these specially dressed Curly Fries.

(Nutrition Facts – 820 calories, 530 calories from fat, 49 grams of total fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,650 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of total carbohydrates, 6 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, and 14 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The seasonings are superb. The Tzatziki sauce is surprisingly rich. Lamb and Curly Fries go together way better than we ever could’ve possibly imagined.
Cons: The onions are a bit much. The slices of meat are a tad too small. Having to listen to the cashier refer to it as a “GUY-RO” instead of a “YEAR-OH”…repeatedly.

REVIEW: Arby’s Texas Brisket Sandwich

Arby s Texas Brisket Sandwich

Years of Grumpy Cat and Bad Luck Brian memes has proven that the internet is fertile ground for viral ideas. They don’t even need to be true to spread; I hear Scumbag Steve really got his life on track.

Fast food is no exception.

We’ve all heard that Taco Bell gives you diarrhea, that KFC can’t use chicken in their name because they use vat-grown chickenoids, and that Four of the Guys killed and ate the other to gain his power. We know that no one likes Arby’s.

See what I mean? The Simpsons make a joke twenty years ago, the idea goes viral, and the conventional opinion of a fast food franchise is set for decades.

I like Arby’s. It has a consistently good core menu and often has some interesting limited time items. Plus, any franchise with the guts to serve Bambi on a bun gets my support.

One of Arby’s newest offerings is the Texas Brisket Sandwich, featuring smoked brisket, crispy onion strings, dill pickles, and Texas-style barbecue sauce on Texas toast. Arby’s has had success with its brisket in the past. How does this one stand up?

Upon opening, I’m underwhelmed. I understand that “toasted” often needs to be put in quotation marks when it comes to fast food, but I was hoping that this Texas toast would live up to its name and offer a crispy counterpoint to the soft brisket. At best, this looks like it was angrily glared at by a cowboy who’s had his cattle rustled. Or maybe by a fast food patron who was expecting his Texas toast to at least be thicker than regular bread.

Arby s Texas Brisket Sandwich 2

On the inside, Arby’s is keeping things simple with just meat, sauce, onion strings, and pickles. This can work when the fundamentals are strong, and Arby’s brisket has impressed me in the past, so I was hopeful.

Arby s Texas Brisket Sandwich 3

The first bite is tangy. Very tangy. The sauce dominates every other flavor, and the pickles offer a very unneeded sharp bite at the end. “This is fine,” I tell myself. Any moment now that fatty, unctuous brisket will cut through the sharpness and bring everything into balance. Another bite reveals a mild smokiness, but the brisket itself remains dry and disappointing.

I remember Arby’s brisket being much better than this. Have they changed it recently? The Smokehouse Brisket sandwich was delicious when I had it. Then again, that one does feature copious amounts of cheese and mayo. As a Midwesterner, I admit it’s easy to trick me into thinking that something tastes good with the ol’ add-cheese-and-mayo trick, but I swear the brisket itself was better too.

So, it turns out that Terri and Sherri Mackleberry were right twenty years ago. Arby’s is kinda mediocre, at least with this offering.

(Nutrition Facts – 620 calories, 29 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1450 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.69
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Mild smokiness is pleasing when it presents itself.
Cons: Tanginess doesn’t balance with other flavors. Brisket is dry and missing the fatty element needed to balance the sauce and pickles.