Monday, March 18, 2013


690 S. Truman Blvd.
Festus, Mo.

Yeah, I know, a fast food joint. The reason we decided on this rather than one of the many, many nicer places was simple. Arby’s has been pushing some new sandwiches. We thought we’d give them a try.

The Place:
 Best described as the entrance to the Walmart parking lot in Festus. It’s at the northeast corner of  the termination of Highway A and Truman Blvd. (also known as 61/67)
We’d been noticing their annoying commercials featuring the self-aggrandizing thick,
New-York accented Bo Dietl (Getoutahere!) trying to get to the bottom of the claim that
Waffle fries
Arby’s Reuben is as crave-able as an authentic New York Reuben.
Also, I’d noticed signs around touting their new fish sandwich. I like a good fish sandwich.
The building is nice, not just a box, it offers vaulted ceilings, shiney tables and a large glass block partition. There were tables and booths and a couple of kiosks for drinks and condiments.
We stepped up to the counter, I ordered first.

The Food:
Like I said, I like a good fish sandwich. I also like waffle fries. Angel ordered the Reuben and Adam really went out on the edge and asked for chicken tenders.  They also both got waffle fries.
We paid, filled our drinks, tea, Diet Dr. Pepper (with no ice) and Pepsi. Angel doesn’t like ice in her pop.
We found a booth near the highway and spread out. Adam filled up some condiment cups with ketchup and what I think was mustard. We discussed entertainment options and decided to visit Blockbuster after we finished.
They called our order and Adam fetched it. Shiny wrapped sandwiches and golden brown waffle fries.
Geometrically awkward fish sandwich.
The first thing I noticed about my fish sandwich was how flat and boring it looked. The fish though was not just some square, barely filling the bun, in fact the portion was quite large, sticking out of the bun by a half inch or more on two sides. For some reason the fish was somewhat pie-shaped, a triangle with blunted points, that was too long for the bun on north/south ends and short on the east/west.
Inside the sandwich was a fading beige tartar sauce and a skimpy scattering of lettuce shards. No cheese. That was okay with me, I can go either way as for cheese on a fish sandwich.
I took a bite, there was a wooshing in my brain as I was instantly harked back to a very familiar taste sensation. I had this thing nailed at the first bite.
Back in my more rushed and poorer days I would take two slices of white bread, five frozen fish sticks, nuked,  top the fish with ketchup and call it a meal.
The Reuben
This fish tasted exactly like those long-ago, cheap(est) frozen fish sticks. The breading was thicker than I normally care for, but inside the filet-ish offering was moist and flaky. I couldn’t get that memory of those generic-brand fish sticks out of my  head though.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked those fish stick sandwiches. All I’m saying here is that this is what the sandwich was almost exactly like.
Angel offered me a bite of her Reuben. It was definitely pastrami, perhaps not the best cut I’d ever had, but the peppery taste was definitely pastrami. I didn’t notice the kraut, and most definitely didn’t notice the Swiss cheese. The bread was a little odd looking, it was swirled with a dark marbling. I guess it was supposed to be rye, but a timid one if at all.
Chicken Nuggets
As she ate it Angel tore off large chunks of the bread and tossed them into a pile. The meat was piled high in the center of the sandwich but the outer quarter inch or so all around was just bread. The 'just bread' was what she was discarding. She mentioned that she couldn’t detect the vinegar in the kraut much, and maybe that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Pastrami is a strong flavor, so is kraut. In this sandwich they emphasized the meat more than fetid cabbage.
My fish, aside from the harking back it was causing was otherwise quite boring. Not bad, just not crave-worthy. I can say the same for the Reuben, not bad, but hardly a must-have. I suspect Bo Dietl sold out. I can’t imagine a card-carrying New Yorker claiming that this was better than those found in the hundred-year-old ethnic family deli’s along the steamy, grimy streets of the Big Apple.
Adam rated his chicken tenders as being better, lighter than DQ’s, but that was about it.
Molten Lava Cake
Upon finishing up Angel and Adam decided to top the meal off with a much, in-the-store touted ‘Molten Lava Cake’
Spoiler alert, much to my disappointment it’s not really made from molten lava.
For two bucks you get what Angel described as a chocolate cupcake that didn’t get baked long enough.
I tasted it, it tasted exactly like generic chocolate cake. It wasn’t even as hot as molten lava, in fact it was barely above room temperature.
The meal, without the molten lava, came in at twenty one dollars. The service, well, it’s a fast food place, the minimum wage staff is hardly motivated to go above and beyond, and here they did not. The place was clean enough, the food and condiments seemed fresh. The offerings were okay, but hardly lived up to the hype. We don’t go to Arby’s very often, and these new sandwiches are probably not going to get us there any more frequently. The waffle fries, offered hardly anywhere else, are pretty good. I still don’t know how they get the potatoes in the waffle iron though, I’ve tried it, and failed miserably. They must know a trick.

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