Friday, September 24, 2010

The Arkansas Reuben.

TYPICAL EXAMPLE:  Boomerangs Reuben
  • TYPICAL EXAMPLE: Boomerang's Reuben
I encountered it again last week… another Reuben sandwich on an Arkansas menu. It’s not an uncommon occurrence — happens to me all the time. The varieties are interesting, though.
This particular Reuben was discovered at Boomerang’s in Fort Smith — a limited chain with some Oklahoma outlets. I went there back in July to write up the burger. The sliced corned beef is served up on buttered rye with a drizzling of Russian dressing. The shredded sauerkraut is pasted to one side of the bread with Swiss cheese. All the necessary ingredients are there, and it’s pretty decent. It’s called the Real Reuben Sandwich and it’ll run you $5.39 plus tax.
GRILLED HARMONY:  Reuben at Johnny Bs
  • GRILLED HARMONY: Reuben at Johnny B's
MARBLED RYE:  Somethings Brewings Reuben
  • MARBLED RYE: Something's Brewing's Reuben
You can get a “Ruben” at Jack’s Pancake and Waffles with fries for $7.95, an “Ozark Style Reuben” with a side item for $5.99 at Ozark Country Restaurant, a “Rueben” sandwich basket for $6.25 at Red Oak Fillin Station or a “Rueben” at the Country Gossip in Stuttgart for $5.50. A single Reuben is $4.95 at the Log Cabin Restaurant outside of Rogers. The Grilled Reuben comes with French fries and cole slaw for $7.95 at Atkins International Café. At Myrtie Mae’s in Eureka Springs you can get a Reuben, Reuben (so good they named it twice) for $5.95. And it’s grilled in El Dorado at Johnny B’s, $4.99 on its own or another 99 cents for fries.
CHIPPED CORNED BEEF: Cabots Southfork Grills unusual take
  • CHIPPED CORNED BEEF: Cabot's Southfork Grill's unusual take
And some are different. Susan’s Restaurant in Springdale serves its Reuben ($6.29) without dressing. So does Eureka Springs’ Local Flavor Café, where the Classic Reuben will run you $8.50 — and at Mud Street Café, but there the sandwich comes on Bohemian Rye. Dr. Baker’s Extraordinary Bistro and Sky Bar at the 1886 Crescent Hotel serves theirs up on pumpernickel.
  • RECONSTRUCTED REUBEN: Cregeen's Airlift
At Southfork Grill in Cabot it’s chipped corned beef grilled up on marbled rye, served on marbled rye with potato chips and a pickle spear for $6.25 (you pay a little more for those sweet potato fries). Izzy’s in Little Rock calls theirs “Rueben (The Original)” and serve it up with Muenster instead of Swiss Cheese along with chips for $6.19. You can get it at Anne’s Country Café in Pine Bluff with Prime Rib horseradish sauce for $5.25. Cregeen’s Irish Pub even offers what is essentially a fried Reuban-esque creation called The Airlift — balls of corned beef deep fried and served up with a Russian-kraut dressing.
YOU CAN FIND ONE ANYWHERE:  Even with frog legs
  • YOU CAN FIND ONE ANYWHERE: Even with frog legs
So why is it so pervasive? Why is it that you can find a Reuben almost anywhere? I joke that 90 percent of non-ethnic restaurants in Arkansas serve a version of the sandwich… it’s more likely about 75% but there are days I really wonder. Why’s it there? What makes it so tasty to Arkansans? And what are its origins? These are questions I ask myself on a regular basis.
And while I’m at it, I want to know what’s your favorite Reuben? Where do you get it?

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