Filet mignon is a popular cut of the cow. Lean, supple, tender, and limited (only one long tube per cow), it’s a rare treat, and I’ve long bought into its hype. But then, while waiting for tables to Mr. John’s Steakhouse in New Orleans, I learned a secret from the restaurant industry: the tenderloin is great, but nothing beats a good old ribeye.
A good sirloin is a glory, marbled with criss-crossing threads of fat. These lacy patterns drizzle over the steak as it melts, creating flares of flame that add an extra hint of smoke to the meat’s already earthy and meaty notes. Burned just right, the snowy stripe in the beanie crisps up in a deliciously heartbreaking way. I can’t even tell you my favorite part of this steak – there’s four main parts, and I could write odes to all of them. So here is. You could say I like a good ribeye.
Therefore, when Arby’s announced the release of a new Steakhouse Garlic Rib Eye SandwichI can confess that I didn’t even finish reading his name before walking past my colleague/hero Dennis Lee by asking to cover this launch for The takeaway. And now here we are: the day Arby went beyond meat to get The Me at.
According to the press release, this sandwich contains 100% ribeye seasoned with “traditional steakhouse flavors of salt, black pepper, garlic and thyme” topped with natural Swiss cheese, crispy onions and aioli. with garlic on a toasted bun. According to the Nutrition Facts, it’s 215 grams – just under half a pound – of all of the above.
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My first impression as I eagerly pulled the sandwich out of its plain white paper bag was that Arby’s got it right with its slogan. This thing has weigh. The new version comes out swinging, a big, wrapped sandwich that’s literally overflowing with semi-thin slices of meat. I would go so far as to say that this is one of those rare times when fast food marketing is actually under-promised. Don’t be fooled by the airy stacks of protein in promotional photos – this is a brick of a beef sandwich.
How does Arby’s Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich taste?
The main event was slightly chewy, not super tender, but that’s how steak should be. I was delighted to find that there was no doubt that I was eating a steak sandwich, while a cut that’s too silky or paper-thin would have pushed it into beefy territory. Whether I was able to identify the steak as a ribeye is much less definitive. Even though it’s a more steak sandwich than, say, a Philly cheese steak (which is also ideally a rib eye), it’s not a gourmet steak or prime rib sandwich.
Where Arby’s Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye has the edge over these types of sandwiches (besides the obviously lower cost) is that nearly all of the gristle is processed from the meat for a softer, more consistent texture. The protein is also leaner than what is typically used in a steak sandwich, indicating a less good rib eye, but again, easier to eat, more even bites.
And in keeping with the theme of consistency, the slices of beef are folded and stacked so that there is plenty of overlap between the peppery outer edges of the steak and the softer interior. The thyme in the seasoning is subtle, but nothing else in this sandwich was. Which is a very good thing in my book.
Arby’s Garlic Aioli hugs every slice of meat from the top of the pile down. The sauce was quite well done, which is saying something, since I have already accused Arby of being soft on us when it comes to flavors that bite. This thick, creamy garlic spread has a raw, sour snap that woke up my mouth right upright without being intrusive. In fact, for a brand that is usually too schmear, I was not only relieved, but a little disappointed with the restraint here, because this sauce is awesome.
Another element contributing to the weight and flavor of the whole thing is a bunch of “strings” of fried onions, which I put in quotes because there’s nothing stringy about any part of this sandwich, from the bulbs to the beef. The onions had a good crunch and popped, weren’t too greasy and added moisture and sweetness to balance out the corned beef. Heck, even the Swiss slice had character and a bit of maturity that complemented the whole thing nicely.
It is extremely important for a sandwich of this magnitude to have a solid base on which to place it. And Arby’s 100% nailed the bun. The marketing only lists it as a toasted “specialty roll,” but again, that’s that rare example of a corporate understatement.
Pictures might make it look a bit dry; in truth, it’s plush and supple, with the density and elasticity to withstand whatever Arby throws at it. No disintegration, no softening, no crumb degradation. As you chew, it turns you into a sweet finish that’s like a comfort after lots of garlic, onion, and peppery red meat.
Is Arby’s Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich Worth Buying?
Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? Arby’s gets a participation trophy for even playing with a ribeye steak. Although he comes out slightly transformed, he smokes the classic roast beef that I eat out of sheer nostalgia (and as a vehicle for Arby’s Sauceif we are honest).
I also have mixed feelings about trying a sandwich that has rested in its own steam, been ripped off and taken out of the bags, carried to the car, and slightly aged on my kitchen table as I photograph it with its cover. It’s not optimal. I was worried that all of this would be 630 below average calories of wasted effort.
But even with half of those calories as pure fat (that’s is ribeye, mind you) and all the odds against it, the Steakhouse Garlic Ribeye Sandwich is worth it. With 29 grams of protein, it’s one of the only fast food sandwiches filling enough to be a meal, especially with a few handfuls of curly fries on the side. It is equally important that it is experientially ssatisfying to eat, even if I didn’t eat it fresh. In light of how each of the different textures remained preserved even with the time lag between manufacture and consumption, it was good to savor it – no need to rush, knowing that its structural integrity remained solid.
All in all, it brings the gastropub vibe (with, yes, lots of The Meats) for about half the price. And that, unlike the wonderful richness of alliums, does not stink.