Foreword by derryX: I wrote every word of this before I read Darth’s post.
“It’s good mood food.”
Until this year, I never realized that the world is very polarized about Arbys. Back in August, I asked people for their opinions on Arbys via twitter and facebook. I received a number of different responses. What do you make of these?
The chicken sandwich is good!
I’m so hungry I could eat at Arby’s!
Went there once. I think I liked their fries.
Meat i wouldnt feed my dog.
I f*cking LOVE Arbys.
I used to love it.. now I can’t stand fast food.
For every good comment, there’s one equally bad comment. That pretty much sums up my opinion of Arbys. You’ll recall that Darth said, “You either love it or hate it.” Well, guess what. I don’t like it, I don’t hate it, and I can tolerate its existence. This puts me in a bad spot: right in the middle. I’ll have no credibility with the fanboys, nor will I have any with the avid haters. That isn’t exactly going to stop me from outlining the details of my recent trip.
I had a Clipper Magazine coupon for a free sandwich with another sandwich purchase at the standalone Arbys at 133 Wolf Road in Colonie, NY. Although I’ve eaten at the mall food court Arbys’s that are out there, if you’re going to do it, I say go to the stand alone restaurants. It just feels different eating Arbys food in a place dedicated to Arbys rather than eating Arbys food while being surrounded by terrible Chinese knockoff food and people handing out samples in paper piss cups.
I already decided that the free sandwich was just going to be a regular Arbys roast beef sandwich. I was going to let the marketing decide what the sandwich I had to purchase was. They are selling these new Ultimate Angus Beef “subs.” I settled on the 3 cheese and bacon variety, described as follows:
Wow! The one sandwich that makes everyone happy. Introducing the Three Cheese & Bacon from Arby’s®. Angus beef the way it’s meant to be – premium, lean, freshly sliced and piled high to perfection with thick cut pepper bacon and Swiss, shredded cheddar and Parmesan Peppercorn Ranch on an authentic Italian style roll.
And of course, I had a beverage and opted for curly fries.
Before I go into how the food was, lets talk about the sauces.
Stand alone Arbys restaurants have a sauce station containing three sauces: Arbys Sauce (a thin tangy sauce akin in flavor to a BBQ sauce), Horsey Sauce (a creamy cousin of mayonnaise with a subtle hint of horseradish flavor), and Ketchup. I almost never eat ketchup, but always take two paper cups of Arbys Sauce and two of Horsey Sauce. Because…
Everyone has their own rituals. I use the remaining sauces for dipping fries. Don’t judge me; I judge you.
Notice something: every reference above to the roast beef that Arbys serves refers to it as “Arbys roast beef.” This is intentional because it’s a very important distinction to make. Just because they’re calling it roast beef doesn’t mean that’s what it is. Adding the modifier gives them the space to do whatever they want to it.
The meat itself isn’t the greatest thing on the planet. It has an odd, spongy texture, but it is loaded with flavor. It’s clearly something that has evolved into a very consistent artificially formulated product. It brings the people back. The bun is nothing special; it’s sesame seeded white bread made to look toasted. Every so often, eating an Arbys roast beef sandwich is comforting, even it it isn’t so great.
Sad to say, but I can’t speak so neutrally about the Ultimate Angus sandwich. I have given up on expecting anything with Angus in it to be good. But this was painfully bad. The meat was tough, dry, and flavorless, which is odd because it should be juicier than the Arbys roast beef stuff. The cheeses were also strange. Flavor-wise, I couldn’t identify the three cheeses. Before I looked it up, I reached out on twitter to find out what they are. Until I received that response (included in the above description which I totally ignored), my best guess was yellow American, white American, and sour cream. Also, parmesan peppercorn ranch should really not qualify as a third cheese.
The bread was a soggy mess. Apparently, any and all of the juice from the meat soaked into the bread, which had no discernible flavor on its own. I honestly would have preferred the white bread bun.
Bringing everything together were my curly fries. Arbys is one of the only fast food chains serving curly fries by default. People seem to love this. I do enjoy the spice of curly fries from time to time.
And this brings me to the point of my opinion on Arbys. And right now I’m talking to you, Arbys. Look, you can’t please everybody. Clearly, you make an Arbys roast beef sandwich that has kept you going for years. You’ve grown comfortably as fast food became popular, and you are a staple in most mall food courts. Stick to what you do well, and stop trying to get cute. I have always been pleased with my Arbys roast beef sandwiches and have almost never enjoyed the cute stuff. And keep up the curly fries; it is probably the one thing on the menu bringing the people back. People love the curly fries!