Restaurant Date
Boathouse Pub & Grill 1998-12-01
Claude & Annie's 2003-01-07 B C A D+ A- B
Bellacino's 2003-01-21 D C C+ C- C- D+
SunShinE Cafe' 2003-02-11 B+ A B+ A- B+ B+
Penn Station 2003-02-25 A C B C+ A- B+
Reggie's Bakery & Catering 2003-03-11 A- B+ B B- B B+
Mr. Gyro's 2003-03-25 B- B B D C C-
Aramark Food Service 2003-03-26 A- A C+ B C A-
Union Jack Pub 2003-04-08 B- C- A A- C B
Max & Erma's 2003-04-29 B+ C A- A A B+
Kelly's Pub Too 2003-05-13 B C B B+ A- B
Shapiro's Delicatessen 2003-05-27 B+ C- B B+ B+ B+
McGilvery's Pub and Eatery 2003-06-10 B- C B+ C A- B
Trafford Pub and Eatery 2003-06-24 B+ C B+ A B B+
SunShinE Cafe' 2003-07-05 B B+ A- A A B+
MCL Cafeteria & Deli 2003-07-08 A- B+ A A- B+ A-
Airport Deli 2003-07-22 B- A B A B+ B+
Einstein Bros. Bagels 2003-08-05 D B+ B+ A- B+ C+
Perkins Family Restaurant 2003-08-19 A B B+ A B B+
Appleby's 2003-09-02 B F A B+ B D
Mike's Speedway Lounge 2003-09-16 A- A A C A A-
Galahad's Cafe and Spirits 2003-09-30 C+ B B+ B B- B-
Schlotzsky's Deli 2003-10-28 B A B+ B A- B+
Arni's 2003-11-11 B- C+ A+ A+ A B
Jersey Mike's Subs 2003-12-09 B- B B B B+ B
Birdy's Bar & Grill 2003-12-16 B- C+ A B C B-
Paragon Restaurant 2004-01-13 B A+ A+ A- A A-
Galahad's Cafe and Spirits 2004-02-24 B B+ A- B+ B+ B
Bench Warmers Sports Bar 2004-03-09 A- D+ A- A- C+ B-
L.S. Ayres Tea Room 2004-03-18 A A A+ A A+ A
Champps Americana 2004-03-30 B+ C- A- A B+ B+
Mister Robert's Restaurant 2004-04-13 B B+ B+ B- A B+
Brix - a Zionsville bistro 2004-04-27 B- B A C+ C B-
Indy's Family Restaurant 2004-05-11 A B A A A+ A
Kahn's Delicatessen 2004-05-25 B B B- B C+ B-
Ultimate Sports Bar & Grill 2004-06-08 A- A- B+ F D+ D+
McAlister's Deli 2004-06-22 B+ B+ B+ A+ A- A-
Elegance Restaurant 2004-07-06 F B+ B+ C B D+
Friendly Tavern 2004-07-20 A C+ A- B A B+
bolo ranchhouse 2004-08-07 B- B A+ A+ A B+
Green Street Pub & Eatery 2004-08-10 A A- A A- B+ A-
Rock Bottom 2004-08-19 A- B A+ A A A
Elbow Room Pub & Deli 2004-08-20 B- B B B+ B B
Sunrise Cafe 2004-08-24 A- B A A- A A-
Boulder Creek Dining Company 2004-09-07 B- C+ A- A B+ B-
East Coast Grinders 2004-09-21 C B B C B+ C+
Waffle House 2004-10-12 A- B+ B+ B A- B+
McAlister's Deli 2004-11-09 B+ B+ B+ A- B+ B+
Dooley O'Toole's 2004-11-23 B B B+ A- B- B
Big Apple Bagels 2004-12-07 B- B+ B B- B+ B-
Kazablanka Grill & Bar 2005-01-04 B+ A A A A A
Houlihan's 2005-01-25 C+ C A A B+ B
L A Cafe 2005-02-22 A A- A A A A
Lincoln Square 2005-03-08 B B A- B A- B
Scholars Inn Bakehouse 2005-03-11 A- B+ B+ A C+ B+
Sweet Home Chicago 2005-04-05 B+ A C B B- B
Gisela's Kaffeekr´┐Żnzchen 2005-04-20 B- B- A A B B
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 2005-05-03 C+ B A- A A- B+
Arby's Restaurant 2005-05-17 B- B B+ B+ B+ B-
Village Inn 2005-05-20 B- B B+ B+ C+ C+
Nelle's Restaurant 2005-05-23 B+ B+ B C C+ C+
Loughmiller's Pub & Eatery 2005-09-26 B+ B- B+ A- A- B+
Joe's Shelby Street Diner 2005-11-01 B A A- B+ A A-
Scholars Inn Bakehouse 2005-12-07 B- B+ B+ A- A B+
Rock Bottom 2006-01-10 A- B A A A A
Lori's Diner 2006-01-31 A- B A- A A A
Alcatraz Brewing Company 2006-02-21 B F A B A B
Culver's Restaurant 2006-03-14 C+ A B A- B+ B
The Rathskeller 2006-04-04 A A- A A+ A A
Brickers Pub 2006-06-20 B A A- B+ B+ B+
Big Dave's Deli & Meats 2006-08-01 B+ A- C+ C B+ B
Champps Americana 2006-09-14 B+ B A- B A B+
Eagle Creek Coffee Company 2006-11-16 B A- B+ A- B+ B
Claddagh Irish Pub 2006-12-20 A A A A+ A A
Slaviansky Bazar 2007-01-23 B+ B+ B+ A B B
Bourbon Street Distillery 2007-04-24 C+ B C+ A- A- B-
Dawson's on Main 2007-10-16 B+ A- A- A- B+ A-
Eagle's Nest 2007-10-23 B A- A A+ A A+
Tie Dye Grill 2007-12-11 A- A- B A A- A
Propylaeum Tea Room 2008-01-29 A- B+ A+ A A A
Grindstone Charley's 2008-02-26 B- B- B+ A- A B
The Ram 2008-05-14 C D A- A F C-
Broad Ripple Tavern 2009-07-21 B B+ A- A A+ A-
Marble's Cafe 2009-08-25 A- A- B B+ A- A-

Boathouse Pub & Grill : Interesting to have a place in Lafayette with a nautical motif, other than the chain stores. Decor is interesting. Dominant feature is a huge saltwater tank. There's a wall they uncovered while putting the place in that has old advertisements painted on it, and there's a little blurb on the back of the menu about it. Electronic dartboard, nautical prints, mezzanine dining area too (it was pretty warm up there though). Lots of TVs. Service was very friendly. Quick too, but that may have been because the place was pretty quiet, even at 12:45. I hope this is just because word isn't out yet. Potato soup was excellent, and I had about the best Reuben I've ever had. It looked like it had Russian dressing on it rather than thousand island. Homemade chips were okay, better with a bit of salt, but I'm not a chip fan anyway. They also have Hornesby's cider on tap, which sounded pretty good, but I didn't think it was a good idea to have a pint during lunch and try to stay awake at work afterward. Tuna steak and swordfish steak sandwiches also looked good, but I had to administer the Reuben test first; maybe next time. Only drawback I noticed: no non-smoking area. They said they had filters to take care of it. No one was smoking while we were there, so I have to take their word for it. Visa and Mastercard accepted, prices were pretty standard as far as I could tell. Overall, I recommend it, and will be back. Mostly I'm telling you about the place to try to make sure it's still open when I return.

Claude & Annie's : Fatty meat, very dry and salty chips. No non-smoking area, but not a noticeable problem. Dingy, not too clean restrooms, but IR urinals have good geek appeal (hence the '+'). No Diet Coke available (Pepsi products only), but the lemonade was pretty good.

Bellacino's : The meat was chewy and tasteless. Chris called it "scorned beef", and I would have to agree. The toasting of the sandwich was nice. I'm pretty sure that the cheese was mozzarella--I liked it. The last bite of the sandwich tasted nasty for some reason. The place had a blah cafeteria atmosphere, and you order at the register, rather than having a waitperson. I've had better Reubens here before, so I'm not sure what was going on today.

SunShinE Cafe' : The sandwich had a good balance of flavors. The bread was a bit thin, and so became somewhat soggy, but it was proportional to the rest of the ingredients. The chips were not overly salty, and therefore acceptable, but chips aren't my favorite anyway. The atmosphere was pleasant, bright, and family-friendly. The seventies music was maybe a bit loud. The sandwich initially looked rather small, but as I finished it I decided that it was just large enough to be satisfying. Diet Coke was available, but expensive at $1.38. I didn't think to ask about caffeine-free, or lemonade. Order is placed at the table, but paid for up at the register: I prefer to take care of everything at the table unless the service is really slow. The lady at the register was very pleasant, however, asking "How was everything?" and saying "Have a nice day!" I applaud the accenting of "Cafe'", but what's with the capital E at the end of "SunShinE"?

Penn Station : Who on earth designed the parking lot? It was hard to find the way in, and hard to maneuver around avoiding other vehicles to get out. This is an "order at the counter, we'll bring the food to you" sort of place. That's kind of nice, since you pay up front and don't have to wait afterward, and you order right away, but I still prefer to order at the table, hence the A-. Other than that, service was very pleasant and friendly, and they even offered a free cookie because it was "free cookie Tuesday". This place is loud. There's no sound damping surface at all, and you have the delivery people calling out the names of patrons. Seating is standard fast-food style. In its favor, the place was quite clean (at 11:30, at least) and there was no smoke. The sandwich itself was a bit light on the meat, but otherwise excellent. Purists may decry the lack of rye bread, but the sub bread was nicely toasted and never got the slightest bit soggy. My small sub was a good size when combined with the free cookie, small fries (very good but not awesome), and the excellent lemonade (free refills): total bill $7.24.

Reggie's Bakery & Catering : The restaurant had very "cozy" seating. The sandwich was very juicy, and the bottom slice of bread was slightly soggy as a result, but not too bad. Generous portions of ingredients. There was a long line to place an order at the counter, and then the food is delivered to the table. Usually pretty busy, so come early. This is a small place, and it's a bit shabby, but from use rather than neglect. The cashier was particularly friendly, but service is undeniably slow. The bread was thinner this time than on previous visits: it's usually sliced quite thick.

Mr. Gyro's : Not a very clean place. At 11:30 they should still be pretty clean, but our booth had crumbs on it and the floor in front of the drink machine was sticky. TV in the corner, stuck on CNN, was overly loud (didn't help that we sat right under it). Service was a bit gruff. This is an "order at the counter we'll call you when it's ready" sort of place. I ordered a reuben a la carte (rather than the platter) with a side order of pita bread. My receipt had me worried: it said I had ordered a chicken gyros and a hot tamale, but when they called my number I got the right thing. Apparently I saved $.25 when the lady at the counter pressed the wrong button. Sandwich came neatly wrapped, diagonally cut, with two slivers of pickle wrapped into the bundle but not against the bread, rather artistically pleasing. Unfortunately, the wax paper wrapping held the moisture against the toast, increasing the sogginess, and the pickle, as Jim pointed out, tasted like a cucumber: hardly any pickle flavor at all. The sandwich was a little soggy in the middle of each bottom bread slice (which is hard to avoid with reubens, but I've had better). The bread itself was a toasted marble rye, with good flavor, perhaps the best part of the sandwich. Corned beef was piled in the center of the sandwich rather than spread evenly, which probably contributed to the sogginess. Seemed rather generically meat-flavored, not bad but uninteresting. Sauerkraut was rather lifeless, not much flavor there either. I have to admit, I was pretty hungry when I got there, so I wolfed down all but three bites before I realized there was no 1000 island dressing. Though the sandwich seemed reasonably sized, I was still hungry after it and the pita, so I ordered some onion rings. I had to stand up at the counter and wait for them because for some reason I didn't get a receipt with an order number for them. They were tasty though. I can't really say I enjoyed this Mr. Gyro's experience, which is about par for my previous experiences there. The sandwich itself was decent, and reasonably priced, but next time I think I'll try the drive-up window.

Aramark Food Service : Very flavorful! Nicely balanced. Marbled rye is always a nice touch, and it was nicely toasted too. The bread was a bit tough, since it had been sitting out for a while, but not at all soggy. The corned beef is pretty chewy, but the flavor is fine. The cafeteria has a pleasant atmosphere, with the option of outdoor seating, and no smoking: and, of course, it's incredibly convenient for those of us who can actually eat here. I can't speak to service because Skiles actually bought it and brought it up to my cube to split with me: I have no idea how long he stood in line. The location, price, and taste make this an unbeatable combination for Covance employees. I will certainly be getting Aramark reubens in the future when they are available.

Union Jack Pub : This has the nicest decor of anyplace so far, seemed quite clean. Disco music was playing from the speakers a bit too loud, but I kind of liked it: I guess I'm getting old. Presentation was very nice, with a real china plate, lettuce and pickle garnish, and cottage cheese in a little china crock (I'll probably get the salad in the future, but the seasoned chips were tasty too). The sandwich itself looked nice, with awesomely toasted marble rye and sauerkraut spilling out. But it was, well, bland. The meat didn't have much flavor. All that sauerkraut and I couldn't taste it. Cheese was unnoticeable. Bread was merely crunchy, with no rye flavor. And there wasn't much dressing either. It didn't taste bad, but it just didn't have any flavor to speak of. I think we flummoxed the waiter, coming in as we did, and he just seemed to get more and more flustered as time passed. He tried to do a good job, and was friendly, but his anxiety got the better of him and he had a hard time remembering what he was doing. I guess he thought we were professional reviewers or something.

Max & Erma's : Nice place, but expensive. Crispy sauerkraut was unusual, I've not experienced that before. Bread was nicely grilled. And there was lots of quality corned beef. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think there was too much beef. I couldn't taste much of anything else. I suppose if you're paying that much they feel like they need to pile it on; I'd rather have had less beef and paid less. Potato salad in a crock on the side was tasty. Presentation would have been improved if there was some sort of garnish or decoration on the plate: I mean, it looked fine, but there was no pickle, no lettuce leaf, not even a toothpick, and I feel like they ought to give that little extra bit to get an A. Service was impeccable, and even included a complimentary mint. Oh, and they put a lemon wedge in my icewater, I always like that. Overall, it's only the expense that keeps me from giving the Max & Erma's reuben an A. And maybe that crispy sauerkraut.

Kelly's Pub Too : Mixed reaction to the environment. It's definitely a bar-type place: dark, no family area, no non-smoking area as such, seating is mostly on stools (some with backs, thank goodness) at small tables, big screen TVs, and no lemonade (tea and Coke products were available). But it's also clean, not very smokey where we sat, not too loud or crowded at lunchtime, with complimentary crackers on the tables, and a game room with 10(!) pool tables and 2 dartboards. Service was good: she sometimes had to ask who ordered what, but she had tables set up for us according to our reservations before we arrived, brought out stuff promptly, brought refills without having to be asked, and took payment and handed out change efficiently. Sandwich came out in a standard plastic basket with waxed paper, included chips and a nice, crisp dill pickle spear. The marbled rye bread was very mildly flavored and toasted to a nice texture, not soggy at all, but slightly burnt. (As it turns out, I don't really mind that.) We think they maintained crispness in the bread by putting cheese on the inside of _both slices_ so the juice from other ingredients couldn't soak in: very clever. I think as a result though the flavor of the cheese rather dominated the sandwich. I could barely taste the 1000 island, and couldn't taste the sauerkraut at all. The beef was pretty good, I think it could have used just a bit more. Overall a good sandwich, but lacking the balance of flavors necessary for an excellent Reuben; it was more like a grilled cheese with meat.

Shapiro's Delicatessen : This is cafeteria-type dining, so you go through a line and pick up expensive desserts and then get your entrees and then pay before you get to the table. Honestly, I kind of like paying before I eat, so that I don't have to wait for someone to come deal with the bill when I'm done, but I do prefer to order at the table. But you can't have it both ways, I guess. It was very nice that we were all able to sit together, and there wasn't any music or TV to drown out conversation. The place was clean and bright, but there wasn't much in the way of decor. Staff was friendly, but I can't give an "A" rating to service when I have to stand in line to order. The sandwich was served on a real plate, which was nice. Lots and lots of corned beef, more even than Max & Erma's, of good but not exceptional flavor. I couldn't really taste much else. The sauerkraut and cheese and homemade rye bread were okay, but the sheer quantity of beef overwhelmed them. I saw a little bit of 1000 island dressing but couldn't really taste it as anything other than a little bit of extra moisture. I would have preferred to have paid less money and had half as much beef, but if you want a really beefy Reuben, you'll get your money's worth at Shapiro's.

McGilvery's Pub and Eatery : A very uneven experience. The place is dark and smokey, and the TVs are distracting, but I did like the music selection (Queen, Steve Miller, Dire Straits) even if it was a hair loud. The waitress was good, even though she took a long time to get to us because she was the only one serving: she even put a phone call on hold to finish ringing up my bill! Amazing! Presentation was about as good as it gets without real plates, they even put the nice toothpicks with plastic tassels in each sandwich half, but the clear spot on the waxed paper in the basket was a sure sign that this would be a soggy sandwich. The bread was flavorless and textureless, ineffectually toasted, just something to hold the ingredients, also making it difficult to dip the sandwich in the 1000 island dressing cup. The rest of the ingredients were again uneven: the meat was okay, the sauerkraut had a good blend of flavor and texture, and I could see the cheese but couldn't really taste it. I might stop by again if I were in the area (and I'd certainly pick this reuben over Union Jack's, down the street), but I wouldn't make a special trip.

Trafford Pub and Eatery : Nice place: clean, nice seating and tables, music not too loud. We were all able to sit at one table, which is always a bonus. A wall separates the "Pub" from the "Eatery" area, which is nice. I don't know for certain if that means minors are allowed in the Eatery, but I think so. I didn't see any ashtrays or smell any smoke. If I have any complaint at all about the atmosphere, it's that all the dark wood soaks up the light, making it rather dim in there. Service was hit and miss. The waitress wasn't content with how many fries she gave me at first, so brought out an extra plate: too bad they were soggy. She was rather gruff, though. When I ordered "chips" with my reuben, and used the term as written in the menu (fried cut potatoes, as per British parlance, as opposed to "crisps"), she corrected me to "fries". Whatever: I'll be getting the side salad next time, as Chris's looked tasty, and Skiles' "chips" (as the waitress called them) were pretty flavorless. Her helper was very good about making sure our drinks stayed filled. My sandwich came without a pickle, even though one was promised on the menu. The marbled rye was pretty, and nicely thick, so much that I don't much hold it against them that it was completely untoasted. They went a little light on the beef, but there was _almost_ enough to go around. For the time being I'm assuming that the rather minor problems were due to dealing with all 12 of us at once. I'd certainly be willing to try Trafford's again in a smaller group.

SunShinE Cafe' : Nice enough place, brightly lit, homestyle decor, a bit worn but not shabby at all. We sat in a separate non-smoking section around a table that would seat 8 comfortably, though there were only 5 of us. Waitress was friendly enough, and did a good job of remembering what each person ordered. The sandwich itself was served on a china plate with dressing in a plastic cup: no garnish, though the menu hinted that there might be a pickle. The sandwich layers were bread/cheese/meat/kraut/meat/cheese/bread, which should have kept the bread from getting soggy, but for some reason the bottom slice was pretty soft anyway. Bread was otherwise unexceptional, toasted well but with no flavor and not marbled for aesthetic appeal. Other flavors were okay, not an exceptional reuben but very edible. Could have used just a bit more beef, I think. Real lemonade was a welcome addition to the meal, and the baked potato salad turned out to be an excellent side choice. Overall, I can recommend this place if you are in the Crawfordsville area and feel a reuben craving.

MCL Cafeteria & Deli : First of all, watch out in the parking lot. It's very busy and not arranged very well. Once you get in, the atmosphere is rather nice. Lighting is nice and cheery, recessed incandescents rather than fluorescent glare. The decor is a bit cafeteriaish, but in a modern way. You can easily scoot together tables to accommodate a large group like ours. No smoking area, that I noticed. My only complaint about the atmosphere is that it's rather loud, just from the conversation of the patrons. You order your food in the cafeteria line, buying as little dessert as you can in the process. It's not easy, as most of it looks pretty tasty. I gave in and bought a $.69 blueberry muffin. Grill orders take a little while to prepare, so you take a number, pay the nice lady at the end of the line, then go to your table to eat your dessert. The first few reubens came out fairly promptly, but we had to wait a while for the other three. The lady who brought them out apologized, and said they only had room on the grill for four at a time, so I don't really fault them for that. Another lady came by from time to time to take our trays and dishes, and asked if we needed anything, which seemed a strange request at a cafeteria, but was a nice touch nonetheless. The sandwich itself was of good but not immense size, with a lot of meat. Fortunately, they understand that a reuben is about more than the meat: the flavors were balanced quite well. The rye had a good flavor to it, though for some reason the last couple of bites tasted different for some reason. (Not the first time I've experienced this, though I've never heard anyone else mention it. I wonder if this is a sign of some obscure medical condition? Maybe it's just some form of "Reuben fatigue".) I could taste the sauerkraut and the thousand island. Only the cheese failed to stand out. The pickle was a garlic dill, tasty enough (though I'm not a big dill fan) but with some unusual flavor we couldn't identify. Overall a darned good sandwich at a decent price: recommended.

Airport Deli : Nice little place, adequate parking, clean and bright. The staff was very friendly and helpful, I only subtracted for having to stand in line and order, and because they don't appear to take credit cards. Presentation was on a styrofoam plate with a plastic fork; entirely adequate, but I have to subtract a bit here too in comparison to places that use real china and silverware. On the other hand, because of such measures, the price was very reasonable. I was able to get a reuben platter with good fries, good macaroni salad, two pickle spears (which I ignored: don't much care for pickles), and a drink for a price that would only get me a reuben at some other places we've been. Beverages can be purchased in cans from a cooler for $1, or from the fountain with free refills for $1.17 (if I remember right). I opted for the can because I was able to get caffeine-free Diet Coke that way: not many places serve soda that's both diet AND caffeine-free. I also asked for and recieved a complimentary cup of ice, because I hate drinking out of cans. The reuben itself had good quality corned beef in good quantity. The rye bread, swiss, and kraut seemed to be in ample supply, but they were hard to taste because of the dressing. The dressing was good, a homemade Russian rather than the typical thousand-island (which makes it an even more traditional reuben than is usual), but there was just too much of it. I seemed to have a big dollop of it in the middle of both slices of my bread, and it sogged right through (it might also have helped if the bread was more thoroughly toasted). If there had been less dressing, and it was spread out more evenly, this would very likely receive an A on taste, and that's exactly what I intend to ask for the next time I go back.

Einstein Bros. Bagels : The first thing you notice about this particular Einstein Bros is that parking is severely limited (there was even a "Do not park on the grass" sign). We ended up having to leave the parking lot and pull around to park in the liquor store behind it. The restaurant itself is fine: nice people behind the counter, clean, well-lit. It certainly wasn't crowded, but then, how could it be, considering the parking lot? The sandwich itself was made from quality ingredients: the Swiss cheese even had holes in it. The pumpernickel bagel tasted fine, the turkey was tasty, and the 1000 island dressing and sauerkraut probably were fine too but I couldn't tell because of the mustard. Mustard? Listen, I know it's a turkey reuben on a pumpernickel bagel, but MUSTARD? There was a list of ingredients for the sandwich on the menu board, but it sure didn't say anything about mustard. Mind, I'm sure it was top quality mustard (I wouldn't know, I'm not a big mustard fan), but it totally overwhelmed the sandwich. It wasn't horrible, but I couldn't say I enjoyed it, and I certainly don't want another. I don't know if the mustard was an assembly error, but if it was, it was repeated for all six of us, which seems rather strange. Maybe they didn't feel right about making a turkey sandwich without mustard, which I can actually sort of understand, but this wasn't a turkey sandwich. Or was it? The meat looked just like plain turkey, with some black stuff around the edges like it had been rolled in peppercorns. I tried a bit of it by itself and it tasted like plain turkey. Where was the turkey pastrami? I've had turkey pastrami out of a lunchmeat pack from a grocery store and it tasted like pastrami. This was just turkey, regardless of what the menu said: good turkey, mind you, but with just turkey flavor. Again, maybe this was an assembly error, or maybe they really thought this was something that could be called turkey pastrami. I just don't know. Regardless, the potato salad on the side was good, and the whole pickle was very good. So, in a nutshell: bad parking, good ingredients, and a messed-up recipe. The experience won't keep me from going to Einstein Bros again (though I'd probably avoid this one due the parking issue), but I'd want some things straightened out before I ordered another Reuben.

Perkins Family Restaurant : I was pretty concerned going in, since it was nearly noon and the parking lot was pretty empty: in my experience that's a very bad sign as to the quality of the dining experience. Dining area didn't have a lot of people in it either, but this probably improved the place's atmosphere rating: it doesn't get as dirty when you don't have customers. Not many people showed up before we left at 1pm, either. And yet I'm not sure why the place was so empty. The service, while at the low end of acceptability for speed, was quite competent and friendly; the food was good; the price was reasonable. The sandwich came with garlic pickle chips, cole slaw, and fries. I don't much like cole slaw, and this was no exception. The fries were excellent at first but not very tasty once they had cooled. The sandwich itself was quite good: each component was in good supply and had distinct flavor. Well, okay, the sauerkraut didn't really have any flavor, and that would have been a disappointment except that it was _crisp_, which was unusual and rather enjoyable. The bread was nicely toasted and not soggy at all (they used the "line the toast with cheese" trick). There was a lot of cheese. I heard complaints from Jim and Matthew about the quality of the meat, but mine was just fine: tender and lean. And the thousand island on the side let me control the amount, though it was a bit difficult dipping such a thick sandwich into the little dressing cup. If my experience is typical for the chain, then when you're on the highway and get a reuben craving, Perkins is a good place to stop: unless, perhaps, you're in a hurry.

Appleby's : The restaurant was closed, with a sign referring us to the bar, so that's where we went. Nice decor, a little dark and perhaps overly rustic, but fairly classy. Big-screen TV was a bit loud. Cold. The Reubens came out on real china plates, and we had cloth napkins and water with lemon in real glasses, so that was nice. We had a choice of fries or "Appleby's chips" with the sandwich; I opted for the chips, hoping for something homemade, but they looked just like something you'd dump out of a Lay's bag. I sampled one of their fries later, and they were pretty bland and unappetizing too. The sandwich itself could have used a bit more dressing and at least half again as much meat, but the kraut was pretty tasty. The rye bread was marbled but rather flavorless. Service was okay, but for some reason, after serving our drinks, the waitress walked by several times without taking our food order. Maybe I missed something. Anyway, I'm glad the service wasn't bad, because the gratuity had already been added to each bill automatically. Fortunately there weren't more of us on this trip otherwise, according to the menu, we would have been forced to all pay on one check. (Why do people do this? Is it that hard to print out a bill for each person? You had to keep track of who to serve the food to, right?) So, to sum up, I spent $10 (after the mandatory gratuity) on a rather small reuben without much meat, a small bag of chips, a pickle spear, and a glass of water. I won't be back unless someone else is buying, and they'd better throw in dessert so I don't go away with the unsatisfied feeling I had today.

Mike's Speedway Lounge : I'll be honest. I was a little anxious on walking into this place. It looks like it's seen better days. The waitress confirmed that the building has been there since the 1800s, and the bar was put into place right after Prohibition was lifted. It was pretty dark in there, and there's no non-smoking section. But on looking more closely, you can see that though the place is run down, it's pretty clean, even in the men's room. The service was excellent, and friendly, even though she thought we were foreign (we're not really sure why, probably just because we weren't dressed like the usual blue-collar clientele). The Reubens came out on real platters with metal utensils, but we still had plastic cups with straws. Potato chips and a pickle spear were included: the chips were of the ridged variety, and pretty decent, but the pickle was soggy and not good at all. The sandwich itself was of good size, nicely toasted, and had a good amount of meat and cheese and dressing. I couldn't taste the kraut at all, and the rye flavor was pretty mild, but it was a very good sandwich for the price. I also had a slice of key lime pie, and with water to drink my entire cost was $6.50 (including tip). And I was stuffed. If you're not put off by the atmosphere and don't care about your pickle, Mike's is a good place for a Reuben. I'd pick it over the Adam's Mark any day.

Galahad's Cafe and Spirits : Galahad's is rather dark, as befits a pub-type environment. I sat facing the blinds, and couldn't see Rothenbacher or Skiles across the table from me with the glare that seeped through them. The air wasn't noticeably smoky at first, but I noticed the smell with increasing frequency as the lunch hour continued: the smoke apparently doesn't know it isn't supposed to cross the half-wall into the non-smoking/family dining area. Still, it wasn't too bad. Service was okay. We were warned that groups of six or more are charged on one check, but when we started to protest they waived the policy. Later, as we were resolving the checks, our very harried waitress reminded us of their one check policy for future visits, stating that it helped avoid confusion. I can see that it would help alleviate _her_ confusion, but it makes things much more confusing for the customers, especially when you have more than one person who wants to pay with a credit card (as we did). Perhaps restaurants could simplify things even more by adopting a policy where parties of six or more have to all order the same thing. But I digress. As I said, she was very harried, and it looked like only she and one other waitress were trying to serve the whole restaurant. That probably explains why it took so long to get her to pick up our payment, and why, though she was very friendly when we arrived, the friendliness became increasingly forced as lunch progressed. The sandwich was served on a real plate with real silverware, always a plus. The onion rings were good, despite what Jim might say, but having sampled the chips I think I would save $1.25 and just get them on any return visit. The lemonade was obviously from a powder, and not very good, but at least it wasn't pink, and it did have a slice of lemon. The sandwich itself looked good, served on a marbled rye with decorative toothpicks. But it was largely flavorless. Andrea ordered hers with the kraut on the side, but she needn't have bothered: I couldn't taste mine as anything other than a general wetness. I couldn't really taste anything at all. I did catch a brief taste of rye, but mostly I just had the texture of a rather wet reuben without any of the flavor. The bread was well toasted, and held up to the moisture for a while, but it was served cheese-side up, which any serious reuben crafter would know better than to do: the bottom slice of the second half was getting somewhat soggy by the time I got to it (though I've had _much_ worse). The sandwich was of decent size, but I found myself still wanting something more when my plate was cleared. The whole experience was rather unobjectionable (how can you dislike something you can't taste?) but lacked any real appeal. Certainly better reuben experiences are available right down the street: go to Max and Erma's or Reggies instead.

Schlotzsky's Deli : Schlotzsky's is a pretty typical deli-style fast food restaurant, comparable in atmosphere to Einstein Bros or Penn Station. It was clean and well-lit, as far as I could tell, though the unusually narrowed configuration of the seating area made me feel a bit claustrophobic. We didn't have trouble getting seating, though there were several of us present: we were able to shift tables around and join them as desired. It is loud though, especially with the piped music. This is a stand-in-line, pick-up-your-order-at-the-window type place, but in that context the service was very good, and on the plus side, we didn't have to wait for the bill. We didn't have to wait long for the sandwiches either. The sandwich itself was on an unusually dark but strangely compelling round rye bun, rather than on sliced rye bread. The bread had a nice texture to it: soft and light, lightly toasted. I couldn't taste the caraway at first, but for some reason the flavor was more evident in the second half of the sandwich. The same is true of the sauerkraut, but I think it was just spread unevenly. I never tasted the dressing at all, though I could see it. They used the trick of putting the cheese on the inside of each bread slice, but I think in this case it may have backfired: the cheese ended up dominating the sandwich, even over the beef. The beef itself was available in reasonable quantity, and looked nice and lean, but didn't really have much flavor. From an overall flavor standpoint, the sandwich was pretty unobjectionable, but lacked the delicate balance of conflicting flavors that characterizes an excellent Reuben. The price was reasonable for the size of the sandwich, though there were no side items, and a half sandwich is available for those with smaller reuben cravings. It's been a long time since I've been to a Schlotzsky's, but all the food I've had there was at least good: I remember a chicken pesto pizza with particular fondness. For that reason I could recommend this as a place to get a decent Reuben when you're in a hurry, don't want to spend a lot of money, and maybe have someone with you that wants something else good to eat.

Arni's : I've been to Arni's a few times, and it's always busy. Today was no exception. I'm not sure what the mystique is (some people say it's their pizza, but I've never liked it), but I'd guess it's the decor. This particular Arni's location has bicycles and motorcycles mounted on the walls and ceilings. The dining area is convoluted with various partial walls, and there's one set of French doors that look like they open onto another dining area before you realize that each of the panes is a mirror. I had a little trouble finding my way back to my table from the impeccable restroom, though it might have been because I was dazed from the air freshener fumes. Our waiter was attentive and amiable, and the service was reasonably prompt, especially considering how busy the place was. Though all of our bills were brought to us on one slip, everything was neatly broken out. We all paid in cash (much to our waiter's relief, we could tell) but it seems as if there wouldn't have been much trouble putting some of the orders on individual credit cards. I shied away from the $1.79 fee for a "bottomless" glass of soda and opted for water, which was served, to my delight, with a huge lemon wedge. I chose the potato salad as a side for my reuben, and it was... interesting. Pretty tasty, but it produced this tingling sensation in my tongue, as if it were somehow effervescent, like soda. I thought I was going crazy, but Jim and Chris confirmed it (the tingling, not my craziness). We asked what was in the salad to cause that sensation (Jim claimed "horseradish", but I've never had that sensation from horseradish before) and were were told it was premade elsewhere, and the ingredients list didn't include anything more illuminating than the word "spices". I had some concern that perhaps it meant the salad was going bad, but it didn't _taste_ bad, and as of the following morning there have been no noticeable aftereffects. Another Arni's anomaly, like the sandwich itself: an open-faced reuben with diced Roma tomatoes. I didn't know whether to eat it with a fork or pick it up like pizza, and did a little of both. The predominant flavor was the dressing, and it wasn't bad. The bread had a little flavor, as did the tomatoes, but I couldn't really taste the meat or the kraut. There was a lot of cheese, but it didn't have much flavor either. It was certainly an interesting experience, but not what I'd call a good reuben. Next time I'm at Arni's I'll be getting my standard order, a junior salad (don't let the word "junior" fool you: this thing is a meal), and maybe splurge $4 on one of their extravagant desserts.

Jersey Mike's Subs : [Note: This was sort of a make-up Reuben Tuesday for Skiles and myself on December 16th, since we missed the first trip to Jersey Mike's on the 9th. Chris took advantage of revisiting the establishment to order a pastrami Reuben, and felt that the substitution improved the sandwich.] This is your typical sub-shop place: order at the counter, pay, fill your drinks (Pepsi products, no Coke), and wait at the table for your sandwich to be brought to you. Service was friendly. The dining area was clean and well lit. I paid $1.45 for a 32 oz Pepsi and a bag of chips to go with my Reuben, which I thought pretty reasonable: I couldn't do better with the vending machines at work, which is sort of my standard for measuring such things. For $1.25 you can get a 22 oz drink and chips instead, but I was headed for a seminar in the afternoon and knew I'd need the caffiene. Another interesting feature is the choice of meat for the Reuben: corned beef, pastrami, or both. Being a purist, I opted for the corned beef, though I prefer the taste of pastrami in general. The first thing I noticed about the sandwich is that it was HOT. I nearly burnt my mouth. I'd never had a Reuben so hot. The second thing is that the white sub loaf bread (you were expecting rye at a sub shop?) is incredibly soft, almost as if it's not there at all. I couldn't decide if I liked that or not. It was really good bread, but I'm not sure it's a good bread for a Reuben. Maybe if it was toasted it would have been better. The third very interesting thing I noticed is that the meat and the kraut had somehow been shredded together into a homogenous mass. That was rather nice, and would have been even better if the kraut hadn't been quite so mild. The cheese I could sometimes taste, but I never really tasted the dressing. Overall, a decent Reuben, but quite unextraordinary. If I return, I'll see if the pastrami kicks it up to a B+.

Birdy's Bar & Grill : We were attending Birdy's (just west of the intersection of Keystone and 71st) at 7pm to see an 8:30 performance of Da Vinci's Notebook on a cold December night. The floor was cleared so the artists could set up, and we waited outside in a line in order to get good seats. Good thing we did: we were able to claim one of the dozen tables near the stage, and most of the audience was left standing. The place was dark and noisy, but not smoky, thankfully, upon the band's request. It's not a big place. There's a stage in one corner of the main floor, and a bar in the opposite corner. A door in the east wall leads to an outdoor seating area where some people caught up on their carcinogen intake, and stairs in another corner led upstairs to a mezzanine with booths, a pool table, and another bar. I placed our order at the downstairs bar and it was brought out to our table with a bottle of ketchup about 25 minutes later. In the meantime we sipped $5.75 Long Islands (on tap: no, I'm not kidding, I saw him pour it) and looked at the ads on the walls for an upcoming Birdy's Christmas party, which apparently was going to feature lots of attractive young women with bare breasts. The sandwich came on a china plate with an abundance of tasty crinkle-cut fries (so many I couldn't finish them), three crinkle-cut pickle slices (which Karen ate), and, hiding in the fries, a crinkly white twist-tie fastener. I don't know why. I didn't eat it. The sandwich itself was on a well-grilled marbled rye, of good flavor. A slice of Swiss formed an effective moisture barrier on the inside of each bread slice, but rather dominated the flavor of the sandwich as a result. It didn't help that the beef was a moist, flavorless mass. The dressing, though not really in short supply, was also quite bland, but I managed to catch hints of it and the kraut on occasion. Between the sandwich and the fries my appetite was pleasantly satisfied, and the price was not as bad as I'd expected for a captive concert-going audience. If I attend another performance at Birdy's, I'll again plan on arriving early and dining before the show starts. I might even get another Reuben.

Paragon Restaurant : This is a nice, well-lit establishment. The patrons tend to be older than most of the places we've rated, and the decor seems oriented towards their tastes. The atmosphere is very diner-like, in a good way: friendly waitstaff serving lots of regular customers. I have only two small quibbles about the seating. First, there's a cluttered corner where various equipment is kept, and it's rather unsightly (strangely, it also blocks access to a door with a glowing EXIT sign, but that's just as well, since the door actually leads into the kitchen instead of outside). Second, the smoking section is in the front, and you have to stand in it while you wait to pay your bill. There's no atmospheric music, which is fine by me. The conversation from other patrons is a bit loud, but we didn't have trouble hearing each other. The first thing the waitress does when you sit is bring a basket of rolls and crackers. The rolls are fairly tasty, but you should avoid them if you have a light appetite; when your Reuben arrives (on real China with metal utensils) it will be accompanied by fries, lettuce, a tomato slice, a pickle spear, and your choice of side item. I can't recommend the peaches as a side; they tasted metallic, as if they'd been in their can for a long time. Soup or salad is probably your best choice. The fries are pretty unexciting, but tolerably good with the addition of salt and ketchup. The sandwich itself is of good size, with plenty of tender corned beef. For some reason some of my beef was _under_ my sandwich, I suppose as a result of building so many Reubens in a hurry. The bread is a nicely-flavored rye, well grilled, lined with Swiss on the inside of each slice. I didn't really taste the Swiss, but I could feel its texture. The beef likewise had a mild flavor, not totally bland but not very noticeable either. Kraut was piled high, and in those quantities added good flavor to the sandwich. Dressing was on the side, and seemed to be of a different recipe than the norm: Chris noted that it was unusually sweet, and it had green and red bits in it. On the whole, a decent but not exceptional Reuben. In general, the food is of unexceptional quality, but served in such quantities and at such low cost that the Paragon is an excellent choice for the hungry Reuben-eater on a tight budget. Next time I'll somehow save room for some baklava.

Galahad's Cafe and Spirits : This is, I think, my fifth meal at Galahad's. The dining environment is comfortable and dark, as I recall from past visits. The sunlight wasn't as blinding today. I caught a faint whiff of smoke late in my meal but that was the sole intrusion from the smoking section: not bad at all. The waitress (I believe she was the same waitress from the previous trip) was very attentive, which was hardly any surprise considering that we'd been asked to come back. We even had tables reserved for us. She invited us to partake of some snacks while we waited for our sandwiches: there were chips and salsa, peanuts, and a cheese ball in the smoking section, and a few of us brought some back to our table. It was a welcome distraction while we waited. I had the Reuben with chips this time instead of onion rings, and the chips were excellent, crunchy and tasty. I avoided the lemonade, having learned my lesson, and just drank water. The sandwich itself was an improvement over the last trip. The kraut had a bit more flavor; it even had little seeds in it, which I've not seen on a sandwich before. The corned beef was very lean, and so not quite as tender as I would have liked, but it had decent flavor. The Swiss and dressing were noticeable, and seemed to be in good quantity. The marbled rye was as attractive as ever, but sliced a bit thin for my tastes, and I think that's why my bottom slice was somewhat overly moist. At least they've learned about the line-the-bread-with-cheese trick. And the pickle was decent. Overall, this was an improvement over the previous Galahad's Reuben, but still not a remarkable sandwich. If I go back I'll have the tenderloin instead (the last time I saw one it was HUGE), with the chips. Or maybe the beef stew, which I had for my first meal here. But no lemonade.

Bench Warmers Sports Bar : Bench Warmers is a sports bar in the Holiday Inn at the Indianapolis Airport. The first thing you notice walking in is the presence of TVs everywhere. You can see at least two no matter which direction you face. I can see how that would be a plus to some people, but I find it distracting. I didn't notice any smoke yet, but it was still pretty early in the lunch hour. The floor plan is interesting, broken with short walls and shifts of vertical space, rather appealing in an eccentric sort of way. If I recall correctly, there are a couple of pool tables as well. Service was friendly in a non-committal sort of way. The waiter didn't keep very good track of things: he charged me for a soda though I had water (and no lemon was offered, but then, I didn't ask), and he didn't bring the side of ranch dressing Brad requested for his fries. The food itself was served attractively--with lettuce, tomato, and pickle--on wax paper in a plastic platter/basket thing, like they used at Perkins: I only marked down on presentation because they didn't use real china, though they did provide cloth napkins and metal flatware. The fries were very good, especially when they were first brought out. The sandwich was small but tasty, especially the beef, a little light on the dressing but otherwise good. Even the tomato and pickle were good. Bench Warmers would deliver a decent value if they dropped their price about $2, but you expect extra expense from a hotel-based establishment. I won't return unless I'm actually staying at the Holiday Inn, and thus have to fight the airport traffic to get out instead of in.

L.S. Ayres Tea Room : This restaurant, located in the Indiana State Museum on the second floor (no admission fee required) is a "re-creation of the Indianapolis landmark that operated from 1905 to 1990." Lunch is served from 11am to 2:30pm daily, and reservations are recommended. It was nearly empty when we walked in a little after 11am, but it filled up pretty well by noon, and it's not a very large place. Service, however, remained prompt and courteous even as traffic increased. The decor is elegant, with paintings on the walls and candelabra-type electric lighting from chandeliers and wall sconces. A real carnation in a bowl of water decorated our table. Mock windows on the far side of the room apparently simulate the view out the window of the original establishment, but this isn't such a great thing: all you can see is the building across the street. We were brought poppy-seed rolls and whipped butter while we waited for our order. Our first course was a signature chicken velvet soup, which was good, but rather pricey at $3 a cup. A waitress came by later with more rolls and soup, but we weren't sure if it was intentional or not: she seemed a bit confused, and we declined the offer, wanting to save room for our entrees. Presentation is really the place's forte: the place settings included gilded China (though the gilding has flaked off a bit), a linen napkin, fork, salad fork, teaspoon, knife, and butter knife. Karen's Hawaiian chicken salad was served in a pineapple carved into a little boat. Chicken pot pies were served to other diners in little dishes covered with porcelain hens. My Reuben was relatively simply presented, but included a little crock of ketchup for my fries. The fries seemed lightly battered, and were quite tasty. The sandwich itself was excellent, on a toasted marbled rye lined with Swiss, and impeccable corned beef. At the end of the meal, our server brought us out, with mints, a check that had our order both combined AND broken out by each diner: I'd love to see more restaurants print such checks. Neither of us managed to finish our meal, and we were still rather full hours later. Simply put, this was the best Reuben experience I've had to date.

Champps Americana : Champps is a classy place. We were seated in a sort of solarium on the east side of the building, with a brick patio-like floor, a high red awning-like ceiling, and huge windows looking out on a nice garden area. There wasn't even a hint of smoke. TV screens covered the walls on the more interior area, but where we sat we had no trouble conversing at normal volume. The table tops appear to be made of slate: not an advantage or disadvantage to my mind, merely interesting. The service was decent: they made a few minor flubs with getting the right things to people, but they were extremely friendly. I was pleased that they were able to provide us each with individual checks, even though they included an automatic 18% gratuity since we were a party of more than 8. My bill came out to $10.63 (for the sandwich, chips, and water), and I would have happily left $11 except for the automatic gratuity: in defiance I was motivated to come up with exact change. Our Reubens--each half pierced with decorative toothpicks--came out on real China, and we had metal flatware and linen napkins. My water came with a generous lemon wedge. The sandwich comes with thickly-sliced chips, which I think had a mesquite/barbecue flavor. I sampled one of the onion rings someone else ordered: very good, but I wasn't willing to spend the $2 to substitute them for the chips. The sandwich was about as far outside the typical Reuben experience you could get and still call the thing a legitimate Reuben (unlike the abomination at Einstein Bros.) Consider the lightly grilled (rather than actually toasted) "dark Russian rye" bread. In appearance and flavor it seemed more like pumpernickel: not a bad thing, but different. The kraut had a very strong, pleasant flavor, even though there really wasn't all that much of it. Strangely, the kraut was on the bottom of the assembly, directly against that untoasted bread; the first thing I did was flip the sandwich over so the cheese side was down and the bread wouldn't get soggy (and I had to mark the presentation down half a grade as a result). The beef was lean and good, but not exceptional. I couldn't taste the cheese at all. I thought at first that I couldn't taste the dressing either, but discovered later that it simply didn't have any. The manager brought some ramekins (yes, that's the word he used) of dressing out for us just a bit later, saying "It really isn't a Reuben without the dressing." Indeed. But I'm not sure what kind of dressing this was. It was the right color for 1000 island, but didn't have the little "bits" I expect in that dressing, and it didn't taste quite the same either. Perhaps it was some variant Russian dressing, which is, again, legitimate for a Reuben, but not typical. In the end, it was a good sandwich, and nicely sized: I didn't have room to finish my chips. Though it's pretty far on the expensive side, Champps is worth at least one trip for the dining environment, and the most unusual true Reuben I've had.

Mister Robert's Restaurant : This is a bar-type establishment, with three separate seating areas. We sat in the non-smoking section, where decorative plastic greenery is in tasteful abundance, and a little oil candle sits on each table. A TV sits in a corner, but (thankfully) it wasn't on. Judging by the scent in the air at 11:30, before many other patrons had arrived, and by the increasing smell of smoke after noon, the etched-glass barrier between this area and the smoking section, though attractive, isn't particularly effective. We sat in a booth (which was just a tad uncomfortably narrow for two adult males to sit side-by-side) next to the large east window, which overlooked the third seating area, an outdoor patio. The patio looked like it had been let go for the winter, with stacked resin chairs and fallen or partially fallen baskets of plastic flowers. The waitress was very pleasant and friendly, and even _asked_ if I wanted lemon with my water. The menu provided a huge variety of sides to choose from with the sandwich, and I opted for the onion rings. I'm glad I did, as they were large, generously provided, and delicious. The batter had a slight beer flavor, and was coated slightly with cornmeal, which is, I think, why they weren't at all greasy. The sandwich and onion rings came out on real china, with a lettuce-leaf garnish, and we had metal flatware, though we still had paper napkins and plastic drink glasses. Two large pickle slices were provided as well: Vlassic, I think, good and garlicky instead of dill-flavored. The first thing you notice about this sandwich is that the beef is shredded and blended with the kraut. This makes for a pretty distinctive texture, which is interesting, and the beef is tender of course as a result. I didn't notice that the actual _flavor_ of the beef was exceptional though: it was okay, but I've had better. The flavors overall were well balanced, but it would have been nice if they'd been a bit more intense. It wasn't really bland, but just not very strong either. The bread was surprising--sliced fairly thin, but still toasted and not at all soggy, and with good flavor. The sandwich overall seemed a bit small to me, but between it, the onion rings, and the pickles, I had plenty to eat. A final nice touch was the tip chart on the receipt, probably a good idea at a bar, where customers might be mathematically challenged when paying up. Overall a good experience. I think I'd like to go again some day when the weather is nice and enjoy a Reuben and onion rings on the patio, as I can't think of anywhere else I can do that.

Brix - a Zionsville bistro : Brix is in downtown Zionsville, an area that could accurately be described as "quaint", I think. Parking is pretty sparse: we parked on the other side of a small park area, across the street from the restaurant, but it was still not a long walk, and the park was nice (with a huge vibernum bush in bloom). I don't know what I expected when I entered the place, but this wasn't it. I think, because of the name, I expected a pub, but Brix is more of a cafe. Paintings hang on the walls, and little fabric decorations cover the track lights. A spiral staircase in the middle of the dining area adds visual interest: I kind of liked that, though I'm not sure why. No, you're not allowed to climb it. We were the only men in the establishment, besides the cook in the back. It was very loud, because there were no soft surfaces to absorb any sound (the floor is tile and the ceiling tiles appeared to be painted tin), and the tables were already crowded at 11:30. We had a long wait in line to place our orders. Then we had a long wait at our tables while our food was prepared, but at least the menu warned us that each order was hand crafted (or something like that, I forget the exact verbiage) and would take a while. The service was friendly enough, just very slow, which was really not good for us when we had a 40 minute round-trip already. The tables are wobbly, with cardboard tucked under them to ameliorate the problem, and the chairs are mismatched. Food was served with real china and metal flatware, and real glasses, but paper napkins rather than linen. I opted for the potato salad side, which--though otherwise fine--was served lukewarm rather than cold. The sandwich itself had been pressed strangely flat, but the bread was nice and crispy nonetheless, even without lining the slices with cheese. Some of us joked that it was made with giant melba toast, but the flavor was definitely rye. The cheese was strangely stretchy, more like mozarella than Swiss in consistency, though it did _taste_ like Swiss. The meat was good, but not exceptional, as was the dressing. My only real complaint is that there didn't seem to be any kraut whatsoever, the description in the restaurant menu to the contrary. I couldn't taste it, and I couldn't see it. It was sadly missed. Other than that, a decent sandwich, but not a reuben. Overall, Brix seemed like a decent enough place for a relaxed chat with the girls over a latte, but not a good place for a reuben lunch.

Indy's Family Restaurant : The first thing I noticed about Indy's Family Restaurant is the architecture. Its exterior garden area and circular window onto a waiting area looked the same as the Fortune House Chinese restaurant near Michigan and 86th (a good restaurant, but it doesn't serve Reubens). Loretah said it looked like it used to belong to a chain of restaurants called JoJo's. Regardless, the place has a nice family atmosphere: it's in good condition, clean, and well lit. I think our waitress was amused when Andrea ordered a Reuben without kraut: as each of us ordered our Reuben, we were asked "Is that with or without sauerkraut?" Later, when one of my fries fell from my plate as she handed me my order, she apologized and brought out a single replacement fry on its own plate. I was amused. She had no difficulty in breaking out the checks to each diner. She brought the checks to us before we were done eating so we didn't have to sit and wait uncomfortably after we were done. Actually, the service was almost _too_ efficient: our meal was done and it was time to leave before I was quite ready. About the fries: good, but not great. They didn't have a lot of flavor, but adding salt helped. On the plus side, they were obviously cut (with the skin still on) rather than pressed. I ordered a water to drink, and it came out with a lemon wedge, but didn't taste quite right. Then I saw Chris' lemonade; it was wonderfully cloudy, and the sour face he made at the first sip confirmed my suspicions: it was the real stuff, not from a powder. I had a glass added to my order and it was good. The sandwich was good, with a nice blend of flavors. It was a good thing they knew the line-the-bread-with-cheese trick, because it was juicy, and the bread, though nice and crisp, was only about the thickness of regular sliced bread. The inside of the sandwich was gooey enough (in a good way) that I had trouble getting it apart to spread the dressing inside; later on I gave up and just dipped it in the dressing cup instead. The texture of the beef was interesting. It seemed sort of shredded, but not as completely as at Mr. Roberts. I wouldn't say it improved or detracted from the sandwich, it was just different. The flavor was mild but good. I was pretty full by the time I was done. I munched a couple of noncommittal bites of my pickle spear, and though it was respectably crisp, it didn't hold my interest (as pickles often don't). However, at the checkout counter (you pay there instead of paying your server) I decided I had to make room for a macadamia nut cookie, and I was glad I did. It was quite tasty, and you might just be able to make it out in my hand in the photo above. In short, Indy's seems like a good place to get a quick lunch Reuben, or enjoy one with the family; or even, as Chris did, do both at the same time. Next time, I'm trying the pie.

Kahn's Delicatessen : This is a strange place. I've driven past it countless times and didn't even realize it had a deli. I thought it was just a wine shop. Upon entering the foyer through the automatic doors (this is the only Reuben establishment I can recall with those, so that's worth something), it's still not clear where to go to get to the deli. We eventually figured out that you go through the doors to the left and all the way to the back through the shopping area. I'm not sure how to describe the shopping area. It's sort of a miniature gourmet grocery store for things you might want to go with wine you bought in the other side of the building. Anyway, back to the deli counter, which actually has a pretty extensive array of things to eat, most of it looking fairly tasty. There's even a sushi bar. But I didn't investigate these things too deeply: I was there for the Reuben, or whatever it was they call it. I placed my order at the deli counter, but there were problems with the register, so I had to go over to the shopping-area checkout to pay. The staff seemed rather non-plussed at having so many customers at once and for the most part didn't handle it very gracefully, though in the end I got what I ordered. As I went to sit in the dining area I saw my wife (Karen) and daughter (Morgan) through a window in the other half of the store: they had come to have lunch with me, but couldn't find the deli area either. They finally found their way over to me, and I sat with Morgan for rather a long time while they filled Karen's order. At least they seem to have fixed the deli counter register by then. The sandwich was served on waxed paper on a plastic tray, nothing special. There was only one item of garnish, but it was substantial: half of a large pickle, which was pretty good if you like that sort of thing. The sandwich, to my surprise, was on untoasted bread. The bread was thick though, and in no danger of getting soggy. There was a thick slice of cheese, and a good quantity of beef and kraut. The dressing was brown and sweet, reminiscent of barbecue sauce, but not bad, and that was mostly what I tasted. The bread and beef were okay, and I don't really recall tasting the cheese or kraut. Overall it was an okay sandwich, with interesting dressing, but not outstanding. Karen liked the place, and the potato salad I shared with her was good. She said the hot dog she shared with Morgan was excellent, which is high praise from her for a hot dog: I assume it was all beef, and it looked to be about an inch in diameter. I didn't get a taste of it, so Morgan must have liked it too. Morgan liked the chandeliers in the dining area, big black wrought-iron looking things with flower decorations and candle-shaped lights. Outdoor seating was also available in front of the establishment, but for some reason we didn't take advantage of it. I wish we had: the deli dining area was almost too bright with the electric lighting, and no windows for natural light at all. I felt like I was dining in a grocery store. I'm not sure how to sum up my Kahn's experience: it was so unusual, and I was distracted pleasantly by dining with my family. It wasn't bad, and I wouldn't be averse to trying the place again, but I'd prefer to try the outdoor seating next time. And one of those hot dogs, perhaps.

Ultimate Sports Bar & Grill : This is about the smokiest place I can remember visiting. After sitting at the table for a while (and we did sit for a long while), I caught a whiff of my hands and noticed that _they_ smelled like smoke. I wanted a shower after I left. The restroom didn't smell like smoke, but it didn't smell very clean either. Lots of obscene grafitti on the walls in there, and some gum. The racecar-shaped booth was amusing. They have lots of TVs (including a big screen) that mercifully were not turned up too loud. The ceiling fans are strangely shaped, like wheels, I think: despite the name of the establishment nothing looked like a frisbee. They serve Pepsi here, not Coke. Drinks are served in plastic glasses, but food arrived (finally) on china plates with metal utensils. Service was mixed: we were told that their computers had stopped working last night, but that couldn't fully explain the delays. Staff was friendly, and volunteered pitchers of tea and water. We were constantly encouraged to try their unique family recipe meatball sandwich, which according to the Fusons was extremely good, but that wasn't why we were there. The chips were generic ripple chips, nothing special. No pickle, but a lettuce leaf for garnish. The sandwich itself was surprisingly good. The beef was sliced unusually thick, and had good flavor. It blended nicely with good quantities of kraut and dressing, though the construction was somewhat haphazard and unevenly distributed. I couldn't really taste the cheese, but I think it added appropriately to the texture. Strangely, Chris and I both noticed that all of the rye flavor was concentrated in the last bite of the bread: I hadn't tasted it at all before that. It had a good grilled texture though, and though somewhat greasy was not at all soggy. I don't think I'd ever return to the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill, but I might order a Reuben or one of those meatball sandwiches for carryout. I'd make sure to phone the order in a long time ahead, though.

McAlister's Deli : The first thing I noticed at McAlister's was the outdoor seating. The day was gorgeous, so I was very glad to see that the others who had arrived before us were already seated outside. The outdoor seating area has good-sized tables (though we had to pull a couple together) and comfortable chairs, both of a metal mesh so that water won't accumulate. Part of the area is covered with a high ceiling, from which lighted ceiling fans are suspended: the rest of the area is out in the sunshine. To the south of the area is a sort of grassy rampart, I think to separate the shopping center from a golf course. A wrought-iron fence surrounds the patio, and it, as well as the rest of the front of the building, is decorated with lots of flowers. It was very hard to leave. We went inside to order, and the lines up to the counter are rather confusing. At first it seemed there was one line for multiple attendants, but then as more attendants showed up at the counter the line split apart. No one quite seemed to know what to do, but I don't know if that's the fault of the restaurant or the customers. When I got to the counter I saw a sign saying that all sandwiches include a choice of one side item: a good thing, because it didn't say anything about this on the big signboard menu behind the counter. I ordered the Reuben (of course) with potato salad and real lemonade. They gave me a number and a huge cup of lemonade (which mostly took the sting out of the $1.79 price tag, especially with the free refill later), and I went back to join the others. The lemonade was good, but I still prefer Penn Station. The Reuben was brought out in a plastic basket lined with printed waxed paper, including a decent pickle spear, good mustard potato salad (with paprika sprinkled on top), and a mint that said "Thank you" on the wrapper. The sandwich itself was of good size, with nice thick lightly-toasted bread and lots of meat. The meat was a bit on the bland side, but not bad. There was a good quantity of tasty kraut, and the dressing was fine. The only flavor really missing was the cheese, though it was present. They don't know the line-the-bread-with-cheese trick, which is too bad: the second half of my sandwich was just a bit soggy when I got to it. Overall a good solid sandwich, but not outstanding. To sum up, this is the best place I've found so far for a Reuben in the Carmel area, and given weather like we had that day (and assuming it wasn't noon yet: this place gets busy fast), I'd happily return to sit on the patio and enjoy another.

Elegance Restaurant : This place was reasonably busy, so I wasn't too worried, despite the warnings of Skiles' parents. I mean, no matter how bad it is, it's still a Reuben, right? A sign on the first door we passed said "Please use other door", with an arrow pointing... um, well, it wasn't really clear, but it looked suspiciously like it was pointing more toward the Chinese restaurant on the right than the entrance to Elegance. That should have been our first warning. Upon entry, we were forced to agree that the decor at least didn't live up to the name. It didn't actually look bad, but with a name like Elegance you expect plants and fountains and drapes and waiters in suits. At Elegance you get venetian blinds, a drop ceiling, waiters with matching black T-shirts, and tables covered with so many ads for local businesses that I sometimes had trouble finding where I'd set things. The restroom certainly wasn't elegant, with its sliding bolt door latch and cracked toilet tank lid; though it was mostly clean, I felt like I was in a gas station. The menus are confusing, but we eventually found the Reuben listing hiding in one corner. This, I think, was the second warning: whoever laid out the menu might have had some qualms about listing it at all. We were presented with a basket of crackers and rolls while we waited for our order. The rolls were warm and tasty, but most of the saltine packets were broken, as if toyed with by previous patrons. Our beverages came out in hard plastic diner-type glasses, but our waiter forgot to give us straws until I asked. Our side salads were okay, and looked mostly fresh, served on a china plate with the dressing in a cute little metal pitcher on the side. I had asked the waiter if a lite Italian dressing was available, and he said it was, but I'm not sure he understood English very well: the dressing I received seemed much too thick to be lite. On the plus side, he did present me with a refill on my Diet Coke without being asked (and he presented us with fresh straws at that time as well). The sandwich was presented very strangely, as you can see from the photo. I'm confident that the strange red sprinkled stuff was paprika (a touch of elegance?), as it wasn't nearly hot enough for cayenne. The menu had indicated that all sandwiches were served with lettuce and tomato, and I'd wondered if they would make an exception for the Reuben. They didn't. I happily added the tomato to my salad. The pickle I ignored, as I usually do. The chips were nothing special, but edible, which is more than I can say for the sandwich. The scorched bread was very greasy, and the single paper napkin with my place setting wasn't going to be enough. The kraut was just awful. After you eat so many Reubens you start to get a taste for the stuff, but I couldn't finish this. It appeared to have bits of shredded carrot in it, which I've never seen before and hope never to see again. After a few bites I gave up and picked the meat and cheese off the rest of the sandwich with my fork. The meat was extremely salty, and eating it with just the cheese and the dressing (from a cute little covered plastic cup on the side) turned out to be a pretty bad idea: I felt rather ill as we left. We had to go up to the front register to pay, in front of autographed photos of Sharon Stone and some other starlet I didn't recognize. The cashier asked how everything had been, and, at a loss for words, I mumbled that it had been fine. To sum up, if I were to return to the Elegance restaurant (and I can't think why I would), I would order something off the daily special board: the place gets enough business that they must do something right. And I'd also get a side of cole slaw and look at it very suspiciously, wondering if they'll put it on some poor sap's Reuben after it has gone bad.

Friendly Tavern : "You are a stranger here but once", says the menu at The Friendly Tavern, and it _is_ a friendly place. The waitstaff scrambled about eagerly to arrange tables so we could sit together, and were very polite and friendly in general. It's a pleasant place, reminiscent of a British pub, but with better lighting and a higher ceiling. The walls are attractively covered in wooden wainscotting and dark green paisley wallpaper. I didn't detect a hint of smoke in the non-smoking area. My only complaint about the environment is that it's a bit loud. This always seems to be a hazard in places that have more elderly patrons, as this place does. There aren't any soft surfaces to muffle the noise either, but I suppose that would interfere with the ambience: it just wouldn't be the same here with a drop ceiling of acoustic tile. Oh, and the place started becoming warm as it filled up with patrons (mostly men: I think we found where the husbands go when their wives meet at Brix), but not too uncomfortably so. The beverages are Pepsi products, so I just had water to drink. Lemon was provided without my needing to ask. (Chris ordered lemonade, and it was pink: I just don't understand pink lemonade. It's like _advertising_ that no real fruit were harmed in the making of the beverage.) A turkey reuben was available (and Aimee's looked quite good), but I stuck with good old corned beef. The sandwich came out with dressing on the side (always a nice touch) and a helping of slightly stale ripple chips. The bread was a nice marbled rye. It was served cheese-side up, so I quickly flipped it before the bread could get soggy. It's probably a good thing I did: the sandwich was nice and juicy, and I probably could have used a second napkin. The sandwich was a decent size, but I would have preferred something a bit larger for the price I paid, or perhaps fries or onion rings (mmmm) instead of chips. Tastewise, it was excellent, with the flavors blending nicely. We also noticed that several other patrons had ordered Reubens, which is quite unusual, and I take that as a good sign that the quality of our sandwich and service that day was not a fluke. If you want a Zionsville Reuben (beef or turkey), I can certainly recommend the Friendly Tavern.

bolo ranchhouse : This is an attractive place. Canmore itself is a smallish town nestled in the Bow River valley in the Canadian Rockies, and bolo ranchhouse is nicely situated for a view of the surrounding mountains, especially out on the deck. I would have preferred to sit out there and admire the view, but it was turning a bit chill for Karen. Also, we'd had some previous experience with huge mosquitos (they seem to be active from about 5pm to 9pm) and we wanted to eat rather than be eaten. The restaurant is decorated like a log cabin, with frontier-type decorations hanging on the walls and a cast-iron stove in the fireplace. The stained-glass windows in the dining room seemed out of place with the decor, but they were certainly attractive. A window seat was open, but reserved, so we sat near the kitchen. This wasn't a bad seat really, but it would have been smarter for me to make a reservation so we could at least enjoy the view through a window. Service was prompt, efficient, and reasonably friendly but very busy: our waitress didn't have time to chat or banter. The sandwich was arranged tastefully in a wicker basket with a checkered paper liner, with my soup (asparagus and roasted garlic) in a china bowl (on a little doily!), a couple of packets of saltines, and a small limp pickle spear. They had cider on draft, so I had a pint. It was Strongbow, which seems to be popular in Canmore, but slightly dry for my tastes. I enjoyed it nonetheless: I don't often get draft cider in the US, and certainly not with a lunch Reuben, when I have to return to work. The soup was good, and I was glad I hadn't opted for the fries: Karen's tasted as if they had been sitting out for quite a while, and were pretty nasty. They were the cut kind with the skin still on, and probably would have been decent if fresh. The sandwich itself was decent, with a good amount of meat and kraut. I've never had a pastrami Reuben, but the meat didn't really taste much different to me. The bread was pretty flavorless, but toasted nicely. I couldn't really taste the cheese except in the corners, away from where the kraut and meat had been piled, but that's not unusual. The biggest surprise was the utter lack of dressing, neither Thousand Island nor Russian, not on the sandwich, not on the side. There wasn't even any mention of it on the menu. It was still a pretty good sandwich without it, but I did miss it somewhat. To sum up, the bolo ranchhouse Reuben isn't a good enough reason to come to the Canadian Rockies, but if you are already there (and you should go: it's beautiful), it might satisfy your Reuben craving.

Green Street Pub & Eatery : This much more deserving of the name Elegance than the establishment across the street. Green abounds, including trees with white Christmas lights, marbled tabletops, and the waitstaff's golf shirts embroidered with the restaurant name: I'm glad the pub isn't on Shocking Pink Street. The lighting is good and the air smells fresh. The rather eclectic decor also includes some nautical implements, and a tuna and a sailfish mounted on the west wall. Below the mounted fish are two very large aquariums: one freshwater (I think), and one saltwater, which holds a clownfish and anemone, as well as some live coral and starfish. The service was quite good except for an unexplained but substantial delay in bringing out our checks. Place service is real china, metal flatware, and a glass, um, glass. The sandwich had a good blend of flavors, with no weak spots. The side of mustard potato salad was likewise good, though I think they might have overdone the paprika garnish a bit. In short, a nice place, and if I need a meal in Brownsburg I'll happily dine there again.

Rock Bottom : I've eaten here a few times before and never realized that they even had a Reuben. That's probably because I've only had dinner, and the Reuben is only on the lunch menu. It's a nice place, with good and friendly service, even over GenCon weekend when I'm sure they were unusually busy. They even brought us separate checks without asking. The fries were good, a bit salty, but they seemed the type that wouldn't be very good when they got a bit cold. Fortunately, I didn't let that happen. The pickle was okay. The sandwich was distinctive in a number of ways. It was served with one half partially layered over the other, with an olive on a toothpick speared through the top. The kraut had seeds in it: I'm guessing from the menu description that they were caraway, but they looked different from the caraway seeds I'm used to seeing in the rye bread, so I'm not sure. It even had the more traditional Russian dressing instead of the more common Thousand Island (well, the menu said so, but I couldn't actually find the dressing on the sandwich). There was plenty of meat and cheese, and overall it was tasty and filling. I'll likely make the Rock Bottom Reuben a GenCon tradition each year (if not more frequently).

Elbow Room Pub & Deli : Elbow Room says it's been here since 1933. The style of the place seems to reflect that, with less of an open floor plan than one expects in modern restaurants. We sat in the southern end of the place, with lots of windows looking out on Pennsylvania Street and Fort Wayne Avenue, which was rather nice. The service was decent, but slow, and perhaps overworked. I had to ask twice for a to-go menu., but I acknowledge that this isn't a common request and easily forgotten. I had a Woodchuck cider with the Reuben and had potato salad as the side, which was pretty good. Instead of the traditional pickle spear, the sandwich was served with pickle slices. The sandwich was decent, but not extraordinary. It did have lots of meat. The bottom was rather soggy, even though they did line the bread with the cheese. And there did seem to be plenty of cheese around the edges of the sandwich, but none in the middle. I can only guess that they used slices of Swiss with rather large holes (come to think of it, I don't often see Swiss on a Reuben with holes), and so the cheese melted away from the middle and let the juices seep into the bread. In all it was a pleasant experience, but didn't particularly stand out in any way.

Sunrise Cafe : This place is a little hard to find in the office park, but you can mostly follow the signs off 116th street. It seems a rather strange place for a restaurant, surrounded by the office buildings. The inside is nicely decorated, and in good repair, but the ceiling is a bit strange: exposed ductwork painted navy blue, not black. I suppose they wanted it to match the rest of the decor, but I'd think black would be less noticeable. The place didn't seem very busy, but I think this may be a feature of the seating arrangements. There's a sort of bar area in the center of the restaurant (vacant at the time of our visit), with smaller dining areas arranged around it. This may have also had the desirable effect of distributing noise, because I had no problem hearing my fellow diners (on the other hand, I could also hear BeeGees music playing in the background at one point, which wasn't all that desirable). I didn't smell any smoke. The service was uniformly quite good. Our waitress didn't seem surprised at all that so many of us ordered Reubens, which is a refreshing change: I think that's a sign that they sell a lot of them. We also noticed that Reubens are the Wednesday lunch special. Water was provided with lemon. The sandwich came out with some good rippled chips, a pickle spear, and a big plastic cup of dressing (good for dipping). The bread was marbled attractively, with big swirls, and nicely toasted. I didn't notice the flavor of the bread so much (I was rather surprised to hear Fred complaining about it) except one bite that had a burst of caraway flavor. There was lots of meat and well-drained kraut, and in a refreshing change over my last few Reubens, enough cheese that I could actually taste it. Our waiter brought extra napkins without asking, and our bill was broken out individually without any complaint (though we paid at the front counter, which perhaps helps with breaking up the bill). It was a tasty meal, and I didn't walk away hungry. Karen had the tuna steak, and though I think it was overcooked for the "medium" level that she requested, she was also pleased with the place and said we should come back some time. I wouldn't object to that.

Boulder Creek Dining Company : This is another nice-looking establishment. It's decorated in a western lodge motif, with lots of wood and stone and brick attractively arranged in arches and pergolas, and good natural lighting through large windows. There's a patio area, shaded by pergolas and cooled by fans. I would have liked to sit out there, but we were only offered "smoking or nonsmoking" as our seating options: maybe all the smoking seating is outside, because I did see a few people sitting out there later on. Early 80's music played in the background. The menu is strange, partitioned by big unlabeled dividers that look sort of nice but make it difficult to peruse. I never did find the beverages listed. Maybe they weren't listed so I wouldn't find out that my glass of Minute Maid lemonade was going to cost me two dollars (I knew I should have had water). The waitress was very friendly and generally efficient, but took a bit long with the checks for some reason, even though three of the four of us paid in cash. The drinks were served in plastic glasses, but the napkins were cloth, flatware was metal, and the meal came out on a china plate garnished with a leaf of lettuce and three good, garlicky pickle chips. I had the waffle fries on the side, and they were nicely seasoned and crisp and in good supply, but maybe just a bit overdone. The bread was a lovely swirled rye, nicely thick with good flavor, grilled crisp, though with perhaps too much butter as it felt a bit greasy. Unfortunately, the bread was the only high point of the sandwich. The beef was rather sparse, and I didn't much care for its flavor. I couldn't taste the dressing, caught occasional mild hints of kraut, and didn't really notice the cheese. Somewhere there are Reuben ingredients that deserve to be matched with the Boulder Creek rye, but they aren't here. Overall, I'd say that this is a nice, if somewhat expensive place, but if you're looking for a Reuben in Brownsburg, I'd have to recommend you head a bit south to the Green Street Pub instead (and don't let Elegance tempt you along the way).

East Coast Grinders : East Coast Grinders has an unusual sign confluence behind the order counter: "Welcome Everyone" and "We have the right to refuse service to anyone." Given the shortage of space in the establishment, they may have to refuse service to more people than they would like. The sandwich preparation area takes up most of the front of the store. In front of it is a small area with a few four-person tables, and there's a narrow strip of two-person tables along the east wall. A half-wall separates those tables from an aisle from the order counter to the pickup counter. This aisle seems like wasted space they can ill afford, since no one ever used the pickup counter: the sandwiches were brought out to us. The menu board doesn't include a Reuben, or list thousand island amongst the available salad dressings, or mention sauerkraut anywhere, but they took orders for Reubens anyway: I guess they based it on their "Casino" sub, which is listed as corned beef and swiss. I had a half-sandwich combo, which included a choice of chips or potato salad as well as a drink. The potato salad was decent, and in good quantity. The only low-calorie fountain beverage is Diet Pepsi, and I discovered that the recent can of the stuff that I had thought wasn't completely awful must have been an anomaly. The sandwich was brought out with an excellent pickle spear. The bread was soft and tasty, but I had to agree with Matthew: for some reason it just didn't taste right with the other ingredients, much more noticeably than other Reuben subs I've had previously. The dressing was strange and overly sweet. The kraut was pretty good, even though I had several bites from one end before I found it. The meat was bland, but there was no shortage of it; likewise with the cheese. On the whole it was a disappointing experience.

Waffle House : The exterior of the Waffle House is a friendly, bright yellow, and the interior is clean and bright, if a bit well worn. The staff was very friendly and polite, and though our waitress did later record Matthew's order incorrectly, she quickly had it fixed (and _his_ Reuben came out with decorative toothpicks). My only quibble about the dining area was that it was just a bit smoky: probably because the non-smoking section consisted of only five booths in the entire restaurant, not separated from the others in any particular way, judging by the distribution of ashtrays on the other tables. It seems like they would have at least put the non-smoking section at one end or the other, but then people would have to walk through the smoking areas to get there, and would probably complain about that too. Given the neighborhood, I assume the paucity of non-smoking seating is dictated by the preferences of their clientelle: it's hard to say. Waffle House is running an Oktoberfest theme this month, which somehow led to reubens being featured on the placemat-menu (I guess the sauerkraut was the tie-in). I ordered mine with a pair of potato cakes: they had some ranch-type seasoning mixed in, and were pretty tasty. My diet Coke was served in a smallish plastic glass, but it was refilled for free. The meal was served on a china plate with metal flatware. A few pickle slices were scattered alongside, and their flavor reminded me of those on a McDonald's hamburger. The dressing was presented in a little plastic cup with a lid; I agree with Chris that the dressing on the side is the way to go, and so this was a plus as far as I was concerned. The bread on the sandwich was definitely rye, and looked like it would have been tasty and nicely toasted if it hadn't been sliced quite so thin. The bottom slice on the first half of my sandwich was already pretty soggy by the time I ate it, and so I flipped the other half over: the bread was so thin it had partially dried by the time I got to it. They didn't try the cheese-as-moisture-barrier trick, but the bread was so thin it may not have helped: I'm talking measurable in millimeters here. There was certainly no shortage of cheese, and again it was nice to have a reuben where the cheese could be tasted. Kraut was also in good supply and flavor. The beef was available in a proportional amount, and had good texture, but didn't contribute much to the flavor. In all it was a tasty sandwich, but a bit too small to fully satisfy my appetite, even with the potato cakes. I think it was a ploy to get me to buy pecan pie, which nearly worked, but ultimately I was too stingy to pay $2 for a slice. I'm pretty sure Waffle House will get more of my money in the near future anyway: we have to go back and try the reuben omelette before their Oktoberfest promotion ends.

McAlister's Deli : The flat-screen TVs hanging in McAlister's display, rather than TV programming, advertisements for the establishment. They especially emphasize the friendly service, and I must say they lived up to it: the staff was very friendly and polite, and came by regularly to ask if we needed refills, or to clear away plates. As much as they bustled about it was difficult to avoid running into them, but they always said "Excuse me" before hustling on to the next patron. The only reason they don't get an "A" for service is because I reserve that for establishments where they take the order at your table. They provided "Thank You" mints with the food, and seemed to keep the place pretty clean, though I found a small spot of dried crud (as from a dried drink spill) on the pretty marble tabletop as I sat down. The decor is bright and pleasant, with lots of brass and hunter green, in a "faux Americana" style that includes ads for McAllister's in the style of the early 1900's. This might backfire for them at some point: Skiles noticed a sign advertising Coca-Cola for 5 cents, and wondered if he could hold them to it. I had a huge cup of quality lemonade with my sandwich, and was pleased to see bits of lemon pulp clinging to the inside of my cup. The order board doesn't make it clear that any side items come with your sandwich, but when asked I ordered the mustard potato salad, which was quite good. The sandwich was served in a plastic plate/basket, lined with waxed paper featuring the corporate logo. The bread was excellent, with good flavor and thickness, but wasn't crisp at all, and really should have been toasted longer. A big pile of tasty beef overwhelmed the cheese (as often happens), but I could still taste the kraut and the dressing (though only in the center: they didn't spread it out to the edges). I had been apprehensive about this excursion, since I'd heard reports that people's sandwiches had been soggy, but I wasn't displeased at all, in spite of the undertoasting. I'd be happy to return here, especially since it's so close by work, though I might order my sandwich "extra toasty": if they can manage that, and take the time to spread out the dressing, the taste will definitely get an "A".

Dooley O'Toole's : This is a nice-looking place: I especially liked the stained-glass hanging lamps. The waitstaff was kind enough to relocate us to a new table after it became clear that we had underestimated the number of attendees. On the other hand, they never offered to refill my drink. They also weren't very careful about the crayons they gave Morgan for her activity sheet, as they only provided her with two randomly-selected shades of brown (on the plus side, they _did_ provide said activity sheet, and it did amuse her for a while). Plastic cups, paper napkins, metal flatware, china plates. I had a side of potato salad, which was decent. My pickle was smallish, but had good garlicky flavor. Dressing was served on the side. The bread had a pretty marbled swirl, but was a bit soggy. The kraut was an unusual brown color, but didn't taste bad. The sandwich was of good size and filled me up nicely, but I found room for one of the Andes chocolate mints from the bowl by the door. The tip calculator on the receipt was also a nice touch.

Big Apple Bagels : This is an order-at-the-counter deli-style place, even though mostly they sell bagels and muffins. The menu board doesn't even indicate that they make Reuben bagel sandwiches, but little markerboard in the storefront window advertised them as the special. My sandwich included a 25-cent surcharge for using a my credit card, which was rather unwelcome: otherwise the service was friendly and good, and they brought our sandwiches out to our table when they were ready. I didn't care for the WFMS country music playing over the speakers, but that's a matter of taste, I guess. The special came with a bag of chips: they had Seyferts brands, and Baked Lays (which are really tasty but not filling at all), and I opted for some jalapeno chips that really were pretty spicy. I had my sandwich on pumpernickel, because they didn't have rye, and the bagel was pretty good, but overwhelmed all the other flavors, even though there was plenty of meat and kraut. The cheese I couldn't even taste just by itself. The sandwich was a bit drippy, but otherwise okay.

Kazablanka Grill & Bar : Kazablanka is wonderfully eclectic. The centerpiece of the decor (literally) are several large and beautiful stained-glass panels, but there are also a large aquarium, framed posters of motorcycles and Jack Daniels, a Celtic cross, and a cross-stitched banner of my favorite Bible verse (Philippians 4:8). The lunch specials are likewise eclectic: Philly cheesesteak, gyros (available in chicken), catfish, meatloaf, and--our favorite--the Reuben. The only thing that isn't eclectic is the music, which was straight out of the early 80s: Joan Jett, Phil Collins, Blondie. My Diet Coke came out in a real glass, with a lemon slice, which is not common but a nice touch. We had metal flatware and china plates, and the dressing was served in a cup on the side. I opted for onion rings: they were okay, but they were cut rather large and so didn't have as much batter/breading flavor as I would have liked. A pickle spear was also included, and it was fairly typical. As for the sandwich itself, the bread was sandwich-sliced, and thus a bit too thin to really contribute much to the flavor of the sandwich (and to keep from getting a bit soggy on the bottom), but not bad. The beef was in good quantity, and had pretty good flavor. The kraut and dressing had good flavor too, but the Swiss, as usual, was an also-ran. Overall the meal was a pleasant experience, and I'm interested in returning to see what else Kazablanka has to offer.

Houlihan's : This is a classy place. The decor is lovely, with brick arches, good lighting, and some sort of glass dome in the ceiling that fascinated me. My water was in a real glass (with lemon), and the meal was served on a China platter with metal flatware and a linen napkin. Service was polite and friendly for the most part: my only complaint was that the waitress asked how our meal was before I'd actually had a chance to sample it, so I couldn't immediately request additional dressing, and the servers all bustled about so much it was difficult to get their attention to request one later. The waitress mentioned that they didn't put much dressing on their Reubens (and mine was no exception), and people frequently requested more on the side, so it occurs to me that it would make more sense for them to simply bring out additional dressing with each Reuben without being asked, as so many other places do. They didn't have a printed listing of their side choices, which resulted in the waitress having to rattle it off several times while she took our orders. I selected the onion straws, which were very tasty, onions cut into thin strips so they have lots of surface area for batter to cling to. The bread on the sandwich was a pretty marbled rye, but overtoasted. It was lined on both sides with cheese that I don't recall tasting. It had no shortage of beef, which was of adequate but unspectacular flavor. Mostly I noticed the flavor of the "sweet Bavarian sauerkraut", with little seeds in it, which was a good deal sweeter than the flavor you typically expect from sauerkraut. This gave the sandwich quite a distinctive taste, which I wouldn't say was actually bad, but I didn't enjoy it as much as a more standard Reuben of good quality. The sandwich also came with a standard pickle spear. Mostly the experience was a good one, but the prices are too high for me to eat here often, and I'd order something other than the Reuben next time. (I've had their lettuce wraps before, and _they_ were tasty.)

L A Cafe : L A Cafe was much more elegant than I was expecting. Okay, the walls are bright orange and corrugated metal, and adorned with motorcycle paraphenelia, but in a classy sort of way, and the tables in the dining area were even decorated with candles. There's a deck off the dining area that looks rather nice, but it was too cold today. From the outside you can see a balcony too, but I'm not clear how you get up there, or if customers are allowed. The bar area is nice too, with neon lighting, and motorcycles standing on a balcony over the bar. I didn't notice much of a smoke smell in the dining area, but others said they did. 80s music played overhead. The men's room was a bit worn, but clean, and even had a diaper-changing station (a feature I still appreciate, though I no longer have need of it). Table service included metal flatware, glass glasses, and china plates. The waitress said, after taking our orders, that it's hard to find a Reuben as good as theirs, and she was right. It was a big sandwich, served on pretty swirled rye bread which was nicely cut and of good consistency. There was no shortage of beef or kraut, and both had good flavor which totally overwhelmed the Swiss cheese. The pickle slices seemed a bit strange compared to the more typical spear, but they were irrelevant: after the sandwich and the onion rings (tasty but maybe a bit overdone) I had no room for them anyway. Overall this was the best Reuben experience I've had in quite some time, and I'd be glad to return to Whitestown for another.

Lincoln Square : Aesthetically, this place is rather confusing. The layout is typical of a Sunshine Cafe (which I assume the place used to be at one time), but the decor is sort of neoclassical, with little columns and sculptures, and artificial greenery. Despite the name of the establishment, I saw no squares, nor any references to the 16th president. The menu is huge and varied, but a few items of Greek food stood out: perhaps for the same reason as the choice of classical motif. We pondered how one restaurant of this size could possibly stock all the ingredients required for such a varied menu, not to mention train their cooks in all the dishes to be prepared. The flatware was metal, plates were of china, but the cups were plastic. The tables are packed rather close together, so that I had to maneuver my chair around a bit to avoid running into the chair behind me, at the Skiles's table. The air was not noticeably smoky in the lefthand/non-smoking section, but there was a lot of smoke at the register when I went up to pay after the meal. The side of cole slaw was okay, but then, I'm not really a fan of the stuff. The fries, also on the side, were pretty good. Dressing came out on the side too. The sandwich was okay too. It could have used more kraut, and I didn't taste the cheese (as usual). There was no shortage of meat, but it was rather fatty. On the whole, Lincoln Square was okay, not on my list to recommend or to avoid.

Scholars Inn Bakehouse : This is an interesting place, a bakery spinoff of the Scholars Inn restaurants downtown and in Bloomington. They're definitely catering to a particular clientele, something along the lines of "college students with lots of money" (which I find ironic, since those two attributes were mutually exclusive in my experience). Parking was inconvenient: I parked at a meter along College, but it was pointed out to me that there was some free parking elsewhere, apparently on the other side of Broad Ripple Avenue. We ordered at the counter and the sandwiches were brought out to us in baskets. Seating consists of lots of two-person tables and a few upholstered couches: we pulled three tables together for the six of us without difficulty. The chips were of the kettle-cooked variety, and pretty tasty. The rye bread had a strong, hearty flavor, which shouldn't have been a surprise at a place that called itself a bakehouse. The kraut and dressing were good, the beef okay, and the cheese was as inconspicuous as is typical. I had the half sandwich, and I didn't go away hungry. I didn't get a chance to try the pickle: just as I was about to try it, a busperson appeared, loudly asked "How's lunch?", and grabbed all of the empty or nearly-empty baskets (mine included) before anyone could object or even reply. This was repeated periodically until the table was cleared. Overall it was a pretty good meal in a nice place at a decent price, but if I return while the same busperson is on duty, he may get a fork jabbed in his hand.

Sweet Home Chicago : This is an order-at-the-counter, we'll-call-you-when-it's-ready type establishment. There are large black and white tiles on the floor, Chicago memorabilia on the walls, and jazz playing from the speakers. Tables are rather small, but there are booths as well. The first thing I noticed was the smell of onion rings, and so I was moved to add a large side of them to my Reuben order. It turned out to be a rather skimpy-looking large order, 12 rings in all. They tasted okay, nothing special. I was also disappointed with the beverage selection. I requested water, but they only serve it bottled. Fountain drinks are Pepsi only. So no free water, no Diet Coke, no real lemonade. *sigh* The sandwich and rings were served in a plastic basket on a sheet of waxed paper. The bread was a nice marbled rye of perfect crispness, with lots of buttery flavor. I caught a few hints of rye flavor here and there, but it was rather subtle. The kraut was good, and in good supply. The beef had good flavor and texture, though I did find two pieces of gristle in my one and a half sandwiches. The dressing was definitely there--I could see it dripping out--but I couldn't really taste it. The real surprise was the cheese: finally a Reuben with cheese I could taste! There was a lot of it lining each slice of bread, which must be why this juicy sandwich wasn't soggy. The sandwich was rather small, but only $5 with tax, so I happily split a second sandwich with Chris. Overall, there were some negative points, but it was a pleasant experience.

Gisela's Kaffeekr´┐Żnzchen : Walking down the lovely streets of downtown Zionsville, the first thing you see of Gisela's is the sign hanging out over the sidewalk. This directs you up a long, straight stair to the restaurant, in an attic room with exposed brick and rafters that provide a nice open atmosphere. The kitchen is secluded in a cute little "house" in the northwest corner, and the place is nicely festooned with old-world charm. There are even cut flowers in vases on the tables. The service was friendly and helpful, and did a good job of providing refills and didn't complain about splitting up Brian and Larry's orders, but they did take a long time to ring up the bill (which was rather odd because aside from another couple we were the only customers). She seemed surprised that we all wanted Reubens, and told us that they only kept them on the menu for "people who don't like German food." They didn't have enough ingredients to make them for everyone, but they did seem to try to accomodate us as best they could. The place settings were elegant enough, with glass glasses, china plates, metal flatware, even placemats. The dressing for the sandwich came out on the side in cute little glass cups, rather like slightly oversized shot glasses: cute, but not terribly convenient for dipping one's sandwich. I enjoyed the German-style potato salad on the side, with bits of bacon. The temperature was strangely uneven: I suspect they added hot freshly-cooked bacon to other cold ingredients. The beef and cheese of the sandwich were good, but the rye didn't have much flavor. I expected more from the sauerkraut in this German restaurant, but it turned out to be mushy and rather flavorless. Overall it wasn't a bad experience, and I wouldn't rule out returning for authentic German food if I craved such a thing, but for a Zionsville Reuben I'd recommend Friendly Tavern instead--and maybe Gisela would too!

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store : I like Cracker Barrel. It has a relaxed atmosphere and I feel comfortable eating there with anybody. The service was friendly and competent. And I like being able to pay at the register instead of waiting at the table. My real lemonade was served nearly frozen in a frosted mug with a lemon wedge, which is about as good as lemonade gets. Table service was china plates, metal flatware, paper napkins. Coleslaw was served in a small black plastic cup (the menu writeup did say it was "a sample"), and though I don't much care for slaw it was pretty good. I would have finished it if I hadn't stuffed myself achingly full on the sandwich and onion rings. The sandwich came out with a tootpick in each half, and atop each toothpick was a slice of sweet pickle. It didn't have much dressing, and I couldn't taste the rye. The cheese was noticeable and the meat was okay, but mostly there was a heck of a lot of sauerkraut. I like kraut on my Reuben, but I would have been happier with about half this much: maybe then I could have tasted something else. The highlight of the meal was the onion rings. The default side was steak fries, but fortunately I opted for these beauties instead. It seemed like they cut a whole vidalia onion, with layers of unusual thickness, into rings about half an inch wide. I was full long before I finished eating them: I couldn't stop until they were gone. It was a pretty expensive Reuben Tuesday, but given how full and happy I was, it's tough to complain about the value. Overall, only the Reuben itself slightly diminished the quality of a very pleasant meal.

Arby's Restaurant : This particular Arby's seems clean and well-ordered. Service was pretty good: they couldn't keep up with our fry orders for some reason (weird: usually it's the Reubens that don't come out fast enough) but they did bring them out to our table when they were ready. Neither my jamocha shake nor my curly fries were as tasty as I remember from the distant past. The fries were rather bland, and I didn't really taste any flavor in the shake except chocolate. The bread was attractive swirled rye, with noticeable but not strong flavor, but not as toasted as I would like. It seems like it's been heated in some sort of press, so the texture was somewhere between fresh bread and toast. The meat and cheese and kraut and dressing all seemed to be in good supply, and of good quality, but none of them had very strong flavor either. The overall effect is well-blended but more subtle than I would like: there was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn't very interesting. This, my second Arby's Reuben, was probably my last.

Village Inn : This is a family-style diner-type establishment, where you sit at a table and order your meal from a waitress, then pay at the front register when you are done. The smoking area is glassed-in, and the place is nicely decorated with good lighting and live plants. The plates were china, metal flatware, glasses were of real glass but extremely small and needed refilled often. The receipt was separated out by our orders, which is always a good thing. Service was slow: we were in the restaurant for almost 45 minutes before we had food. Our waitress said they had been very busy (and they still seemed busy while we were there, though the "rush" seemed to have ended) and looked tired, for what that's worth, but she didn't even try to remember who had ordered what, and she didn't refill Dad's drink. The fries were bland: Mom said they would have been good if they'd been hot, but I doubt it. The pickle slices were good and garlicky. The kraut and beef were good, but I couldn't taste the dressing or bread or cheese. The sandwich was a bit soggy on the bottom. Mom and Dad split a slice of the Hawaiian Pie for dessert and said it wasn't as good as it had looked.

Nelle's Restaurant : This is a combination restaurant/BP gas station. It was a busy place, with a full parking lot (usually a good sign) and lots of elderly people seated under the fluorescent lights in the drop ceiling, none of whom seemed interested in the video games in the front. In retrospect, I suspect the place was busy just because there aren't a lot of other places to go in Cameron, Missouri. We were seated in a really small no-smoking section. The tabletop was damp when we sat down, which would seem to indicate that it was recently cleaned, but that doesn't explain why the table was slightly sticky near Mom's seat. (The restroom was pretty dirty too--looking like it had needed cleaned before the lunch rush--so no points for cleanliness.) Our drinks came out in red plastic Coca-Cola cups, but with no straws. Plates were china, utensils metal, paper napkins. The mustard potato salad was good. The sandwich was on a thin rye, lined with Swiss. The beef was lean and thinly sliced. The kraut was mild and the dressing rather light, but the blend was pretty good. Overall it was a decent meal, but the surroundings left a lot to be desired.

Loughmiller's Pub & Eatery : Loughmiller's is a pub-type establishment with a political motif: pictures and memorabilia of local and national politicians cover all every available surface. Large windows on the east wall let in a good amount of light. It has no non-smoking area, but I only noticed a tiny bit of smoke smell. Outdoor seating is also available on the sidewalk. The establishment has no parking of its own, so you'll have to find a garage or meter if you haven't already: don't park in the alley on the east side or you'll get towed. Service was friendly and good, except that with all of us ordering Reubens it shouldn't have been too hard to remember who had which side items and drinks. On the plus side our waitress did refill my drink without asking, and precalculated a 20% tip on the bill but did not place it automatically on my credit card. She also showed me something I didn't know, that you can tell Coke and Diet Coke apart by looking through them: Diet is darker. I asked if they had real lemonade, but they serve Minute Maid: I opted for the Diet Coke instead though Fred had the lemonade and said it was good. Table service was plastic cups, paper napkins (and the waitress thoughtfully brought more later without being asked, always a good thing for all but the dryest Reuben), metal flatware, and plates and bowls that looked like china but were too light and must have been plastic as well. I opted for potato salad as my side: it was of the mustard variety, and quite tasty. The sandwich was a good size, with plenty of good thick-sliced beef. The beef had just a bit of fat on it, but not too much for my taste. The bread was pretty moist, but mostly held up against the sogginess after I flipped it over. Toasting it more might have helped, but might have dried it out too much, I'm not sure. I could see dressing and kraut and cheese, but mostly I just tasted the meat: not a bad thing, but I prefer more flavor balance. I definitely didn't walk away hungry.

Joe's Shelby Street Diner : Before you even enter the restaurant, it's obvious that this establishment has a strong 1950s theme. At the door you'll notice a couple of unusual signs: "Cash Only" and "Thank you for smoking." Despite the latter sign, and ashtrays on each very small table (with four of us in our booth, I really had to hold my elbows in), I didn't notice a smoky odor inside. I did however notice more 50s Americana and Coca-Cola gear on every surface. And this isn't a large place, although it looks like if you go to the left when you enter you can get to an expanded dining area that opens into a screened porch in the summer. From our table, next to the Wurlitzer jukebox, I could see behind the counter for the length of the main building, and so I was treated to the unusual sight of watching our Reubens as they were made. And these Reubens were unusual. I've never seen so much kraut in one place before. It was piled an inch thick on each grilling slice of marbled rye, and when it was served the beef was sandwiched in between. The sandwich came out on a platter covered with waxed paper. I had to cut my sandwich with a knife to get manageable bites, and I believe I may have also cut and eaten some of the paper in the process; it's hard to be certain, as there was waxed-paper and kraut carnage all over when I was done. Marzetti Thousand Island dressing was provided in packets: I didn't like its flavor, it had too much of a bell-peppery twang (and yes, I could occasionally taste it over the kraut). I had the decent but unexceptional onion rings as my side; I noticed on the menu that you could order them "by the foot", but I'm not sure what that means. The waitress offered a slice of lemon with my water, and was quite polite and helpful: I felt bad that I left her such a skimpy tip, but I just barely had cash to cover my meal. All in all it was a mixed bag: good service, good sandwich, cramped seating, bad dressing. If I return I'll bring more cash, skip the dressing, and see if I can get in that seating area on the left.

Scholars Inn Bakehouse : This Reuben wasn't as good as the one I'd had here previously, mostly because, as I'm sure other people have commented, the bread wasn't thoroughly toasted. There were definitely signs that it had been heated (the cheese was melted, for one thing) but the meat was still cool and the bread was still soft. Too bad, because the quality of the ingredients was good, especially the meat and the bread. I expect they were just in too much of a hurry. They rather skimped on the dressing and kraut too, which I don't remember being I only had half a Reuben today, because I also wanted something else I'd had here previously: the Toscana bagel. It was toasted and topped with pesto and tomato and cheese and a yummy balsalmic glaze. It was as delicious as the last one I'd had. I may have left some of the nice crunchy chips that came with both of my small lunches behind--I was rather full--even though I tried to use them to scrape up the last bits of the balsalmic glaze. The atmosphere and the service at the counter were as pleasant as I'd remembered, and the busboy actually waited for an answer this time when asking if he could take our plates. The only downside, other than the cold sandwich, was the cold restroom: take your coat.

Rock Bottom : This is a pleasant setting. The eight-person booth was something of a novelty, and it was nice to have so many of us able to sit together even if we did have to help the waitress pass things around. The sandwich was good, with good meat and lots of cheese, though light on the kraut and dressing flavor. The fries were thin and crispy. Overall a quite pleasant experience, but rather on the expensive side.

Lori's Diner : This is a nicely decorated place. There are pictures on the walls as you go up the stairs (I think there was an elevator too), '50s pop culture icons painted on the brick wall, neon lights, and classic arcade and pinball machines. The restaurant appears to be a converted loft, and so the main dining area is spacious and has a nice high ceiling. There's another smaller dining area in the back, and a light well full of plants divides the two. Lots of large windows keep the area well-lit. Drinks are served in the classic red plastic cups, and the food was served on china plates with metal flatware and paper napkins. The sandwich came with a pickle and--a unique touch in my experience--an orange slice. The onion rings were decent, but not as crisp as I prefer. The bread was thin--you'll want to flip it quickly--had a pleasant but subtle taste. The crust was a bit chewy, but not too bad. The beef was thick, and just fatty enough to be juicy without being too much. There was lots of cheese and some very bright dressing. The kraut was pretty good, but mine had almost slid all the way off my sandwich before it got to me. Service was decent, and we paid at the front register when we were done. All in all a good experience.

Alcatraz Brewing Company : The prison motif is apparent here, as there are some places around the restaurant with prison bars, but not overwhelming: the atmosphere is actually rather subdued. Service was good and friendly, very accommodating when we had to swap around seats when our group became too large. For this reason I didn't much begrudge the precalculated 20% tip that was already added onto my bill. I had water to drink (and I'm glad: I hear drinks were $2.25!) and it came in a glass with a lemon slice. Table service was metal flatware in a linen napkin, and food was served on a rectangular china platter, rather interesting. It was garnished with a lettuce leaf and lengthwise pickle slice. I had the fries as my side. They were okay, thin and crisply and seasoned with what seemed to be Lawry's season salt, and came with a little metal cup of ketchup. I was surprised they didn't offer onion rings. The sandwich, as you'd expect at the price, was dominated by a mountain of beef. The beef itself was fairly lean but a bit chewy, and had a tendency to come out of the sandwich in clumps. The meat dominated the flavors, but I could taste some cheese and kraut around the edges where the meat wasn't piled so high. I really couldn't detect the dressing at all. The bread was a pretty swirled rye, nicely toasted, and I think it had good flavor but again it was hard to tell with all the beef. Overall it wasn't a bad experience, but $14 for a sandwich, fries, and a glass of water is shameful.

Culver's Restaurant : This is a fast food joint, if a fairly nice one. Classical music plays, decor is homey, artificial plant in the restroom, the place is clean and well-lit, but you still place your order from the big menu behind the register at the front counter. Two small flatscreen TVs hang in the dining area. I had the onion rings on the side, they were okay, rather crispy. Brad let me try one of his cheese balls: bland. And bland was really the word for the sandwich too: bland bread, bland meat, bland cheese. The meat didn't even have texture. If the sandwich had any real taste, it was rather sweetish, from the dressing. Oh, and flip the sandwich quickly: the bland bread sogs up fast. The ham and cheese sandwich they served Chris by mistake was better.

The Rathskeller : This place has more atmosphere than any five Reuben establishments I've previously visited. Even though it's in a basement, there's plenty of natural lighting through beautiful windows. You can feel the age of the place just walking across the floorboards. Classical music played as we dined. I felt transported to another place and time. We were seated at a big table for eight, with strangely low chairs. Fresh bread and soft pretzels were set upon a turntable in the center. The pretzels came with a tasty horseradish mustard that opened sinuses I didn't know were closed. Table service was glass, stainless steel, china, and linen napkins. At Aimee's suggestion I had the potato pancake accompaniment, and it was crispy and delicious. The sandwich was just the right size: I still felt full late in the afternoon, but I didn't overstuff myself. The bread was marbled and of perfect crispness, though the bottom slice couldn't stand up long to all the juice. I considered flipping the sandwich onto the peculiarly smaller upper bread slice--and that probably would have worked, since a generous portion of tasty cheese lined it--but I found I didn't really want to set it down! The kraut was good, though I suspect it was the source of much of the juice, and so it might have been better drained. The beef was tender, sliced thin, and unprocessed, providing a wonderful texture. The flavor of the sandwich was utterly distinctive: I'm not sure that it was the best Reuben I've ever had, because I'm not sure I can compare it to the others. Overall it was a delightful experience. Highly recommended.

Brickers Pub : We were told when we walked in with the Skiles family that children weren't allowed, but we could sit out on the covered patio in front. I'm not sure what the source of the restriction is, but it worked out fine anyway, since the weather was good. The tables were a bit dirtier than I would have liked, but not too bad for being outside. Service was pretty good, and I was brought a refill on my Diet Coke without being asked, though the waitress did at first think I had regular Coke instead of Diet, and it did take a while to have the checks brought out. Food was served on large china platters, with metal flatware wrapped in paper napkins. Extra napkins were provided, which was a good thing, since the sandwich was a bit drippy. The chips were of the very standard rippled variety. The sandwich was on a nicely toasted marble rye which didn't get soggy. I could see the dressing and the cheese on the sandwich, but their flavor wasn't very noticeable. I did get a few good bites of kraut. The beef was in good supply, but didn't have a very strong flavor, and in my sandwich included one rather large bite of gristle. All in all a pretty decent sandwich, if rather mildly flavored, and bigger than I had expected at the price. It's certainly to be preferred over the abomination next door.

Big Dave's Deli & Meats : This establishment is rather on the run-down side: the chairs don't match, and the floor and tabletops are scuffed with heavy use. It wasn't too busy when we arrived at 11:30am, but by noon business had picked up considerably, which is always a good sign. The '50s music playing was a nice atmospheric touch. We ordered at the counter and our sandwiches were brought to our table as they were finished. There was some confusion over whether or not chips were included with the sandwich: eventually we decided we were supposed to grab one small bag of Lay's chips from a bin on the way to the table. Plates and cup were foam. The dressing came in a plastic cup on the side, next to the pickle spear. The sandwich was of good size, with plenty of meat that had a nice texture to it. The marbled rye bread was nicely but not overly crisp. Overall, this place is all about the food, and provided a good meal for the price.

Champps Americana : We parked in the parking garage right next to the corner elevators, and didn't have a long walk at all. Parking cost us $1.50, pretty reasonable downtown, so it didn't seem like a big deal that the restaurant wouldn't validate our ticket. This place is pretty noisy, and there are TVs all over. It's a little hard to concentrate on the people you're with. Fortunately we ended up (not uncomfortably) with seven people at a table that was originally set for five, so that made it a little harder to be distracted by the rest of the restaurant. Service was friendly and reasonably prompt, and drink refills were brought without needing to be requested. Glasses were plastic, but we had linen napkins, china plates, and metal flatware. I ordered a Diet Coke instead of water, and that alone, with just its tip, cost me about $2.70; I won't make that mistake again. I also ordered onion rings on the side for a dollar extra: they were big and looked tasty but turned out to not be very flavorful. Chris said the chips that came with the sandwich were actually pretty good, and I'd stick with them in the future. The sandwich itself was on a dark rye that had a nice texture but felt a little bit too greasy, and I had to wipe my hands a lot. I had a couple of bites early on that had a strong dressing flavor, but didn't notice it so much later on: on the other hand, Larry apparently felt there wasn't enough dressing, because he requested more on the side, so I guess the dressing was applied pretty inconsistently. The kraut was flavorless, but there was a good amount of tasty cheese. The highlight, as is often true in the upscale sports pub Reuben, is the huge pile of meat. There was lots of it, and it was pretty good. I usually clear my plate at these events, but between the sandwich and rings I was happily full, and forced myself to stop. It was an expensive meal, but if I'd just had the chips and water to drink, it would have been pretty good for the price.

Eagle Creek Coffee Company : This place appears to be a cross between a coffee shop and a deli, and is bright, colorful, clean, and friendly. We ordered at the counter and our sandwiches were brought out to our table. The sandwich was served (speared with little tasseled toothpicks) in a plastic basket on waxed paper, with choice of potato chips or pretzels on the side. I opted for the pretzels, because it was nice to have a healthier alternative to deep-fried stuff. The pretzels were in generous supply, and I didn't finish them all. The sandwich wasn't grilled, but only warmed: we later learned this was an oversight, since Larry's did come out grilled, and it was unfortunate because I'm sure the grilling would have improved the sandwich. I thought the balance of flavors was pretty well-done, but some of us thought it was a bit light on dressing; extra was requested, and provide in little plastic tubs. Overall it was a good but unexceptional experience, and really too bad about the grilling. I regret that I didn't splurge on one of the pumpkin-spice lattes, but that's my own fault.

Claddagh Irish Pub : This place is gorgeous. There are gas lamps at the entrance, a fire in the fireplace, and stained glass everywhere. It's clean, but I suppose that's to be expected given how new it is. Service was friendly and attentive. The menu says that the sandwich comes with "chips", but then properly adds "(fries)" to the description (technically chips are cut from a whole potato, and these are formed from processed potatoes instead): regardless, they were good, with a nice seasoned flavor. The sandwich was on a nice thick bread, well grilled, but relatively mild in flavor. The beef was good, with a nice texture. I couldn't really taste the cheese. Mostly I tasted the creamy cole slaw. I'm not usually a big fan of cole slaw, but I really liked it on this sandwich. Obviously it's not a true Reuben, but it was very much worth the trip.

Slaviansky Bazar : This place is a combination deli and international food market. In this case, "international" mostly seems to mean "Russian." They did have Kinder Eggs though, and those are Italian (and I did pick up one for each of the kids). There are only three small tables with two chairs each: they're pretty much patio furniture, but they were comfortable and elegant enough. You order at the front counter, wait for your order to be prepared, and pay when you leave. You can grab a drink from the refrigerator: I had a 20oz Diet Coke with Lime for $1.19, something I wouldn't normally be able to drink with a Reuben. Service was friendly enough, but pretty slow, especially with so many of us there. I just had the Reuben and my drink: I couldn't identify many of the side items in the cooler, and wasn't feeling that adventurous. Maybe the way the fresh fish were staring unnerved me, I don't know. Our sandwiches were served on black china plates with no flatware, just a napkin. The sandwich had a good flavor balance. The bread was nicely crisp after toasting, and though it was a rye it had no caraway flavor. The pastrami was lean and had good texture, and was it good quantity. I thought at first that it wasn't processed, but since it was sliced off a loaf behind the deli counter I must have been mistaken. I could taste the cheese, which is always a plus: I finished off Christina's sandwich, which she had made with American cheese (heretic), and it wasn't as good. Overall it wasn't the best Reuben I've had, but it was good, at a decent price, and in a fascinating setting, and that's definitely worth something.

Bourbon Street Distillery : This place has lots of outdoor seating, and even offers a second-storey balcony, and we had great weather for it. We opted for the ground floor so we could have cover from the sun, but I wish we'd been able to enjoy the view from upstairs instead. The table tops are a wire mesh, which I suppose is pretty hard to keep clean; there were a few crumbs stuck in our table, but it wasn't too bad considering. Service was pretty good: I was brought a refill for my drink without having to ask, and when change was brought for my payment it cleverly included the right bills to leave a tip. I did feel the need to go inside at the end of the meal to make sure we weren't expected to pay there (we were not), so they could have been a little more prompt with our checks, but nearly everyplace is bad about this, and they were pretty busy that day. Drinks were served in paper cups, my cole slaw was in a plastic cup, but the forks and knives were metal. My plate came out with chips piled everywhere, even on my pickle and my cole slaw, so some of them were a bit soggy. They were billed as "hot chips", but I couldn't taste any seasoning. The slaw had a light, creamy dressing and was pretty good, even though I don't care much for slaw in general. The sandwich was on a pretty marbled rye, which was lightly toasted and didn't get soggy. The meat had good texture. The flavor of the sandwich was strangely muted. It wasn't bad, but a Reuben should have a lot of flavor, and this just didn't. Between it and the chips I almost wondered if my nose was stuffed up and keeping me from tasting things in general, but that didn't seem to be the case. Overall, on a nice day, this seems like a pleasant place to eat in a very laid-back atmosphere, but I probably wouldn't come here just for the Reuben's sake, and I won't order the chips again.

Dawson's on Main : This place is surprisingly classy when compared to many nearby establishments. It's nicely decorated and quite family-friendly. There's definitely a racing motif, but it's subdued and tasteful. The most unusual aspect of the decor, in my opinion, is the sink in the men's room: an amber glass basin set in a marble countertop, providing a clear view of the plumbing beneath. There are TVs in most of the dining areas, but ours was off, and thus no distraction: the ambient noise was low enough that I could converse with people at both ends of our table. Drinks were served in real glasses, with metal flatware and linen napkins. The glasses were tall and thin, which might lead to easier spillage and require more frequent refills, but service was good and refills came without asking. Service was friendly as well, but they did have quite a bit of trouble sorting out our checks. I splurged an extra 50 cents for a side of onion rings: they were pretty tasty, but strangely clumped together so I really only had about five individual rings. The sandwich was on a pretty marbled rye, lightly toasted, with a mild but ocassionally noticeable flavor. The beef was sliced thin and piled in good quantity; some complained that it was a bit tough, but mine was tender and good. The kraut on my sandwich was tucked inside layers of beef. I don't know if this was intentional, but it did help reduce the sogginess, which is especially important with a sandwich as lightly toasted as mine was. I couldn't taste the cheese, but I could feel its texture. I didn't really notice any flavor from the dressing. It made for a good-sized lunch, and I was pleasantly full afterward. I had a little trouble leaving, because I'd parked on the east side of Main street, and had to back into northbound traffic with my view obscured by the parked vehicle to my right: I'd recommend looking for parking elsewhere. Overall it was a good meal in a pleasant setting. If I have a criticism of the place, it's that while it presents itself well, it's so restrained in its character that it succeeds in being pleasantly unremarkable; it's more fun to be in a restaurant that celebrates something, that adds little extra flourishes. My sandwich should have come with little checkered flag toothpicks.

Eagle's Nest : It's really a shame that this place only temporarily served lunch over the last several months while remodeling downstairs in the Hyatt, because there's no place in Indiana that can serve a Reuben with a view like this. (The staff wasn't sure if the new One South restaurant downstairs would even have Reubens on the menu!) We started our lunch by riding the glass-fronted elevator up the 21-story open atrium to the top of the building. Then we were seated at a table on a circular floor that rotates counter-clockwise around the top of the building about once an hour, presenting a panoramic view of all of Indianapolis. The decor has a lovely astronomical motif, with sun and moon ornaments, and a night sky painted on the ceiling: I'm sure it's much more fitting with the restaurant's usual evening service. Easy listening music played on overhead speakers, loud enough to hear but not so loud as to interfere with conversation. There was a strange draft that chilled me just a little, but not too badly. Service was very polite and friendly without being intrusive, though I was surprised that we paid at the register rather than paying our server. The sandwich was on a marbled rye. It was lightly toasted, and needed immediate flipping to keep the juices from sogging through the bottom slice. The meat was good in quality and quantity, and the kraut had a good flavor: strong but not overpowering. There didn't appear to be any dressing on the sandwich, but I don't think that was typical; on a return trip this week the dressing was included. The cheese went rather unnoticed, as it often does. The fries were somewhat seasoned, and crisp and tasty. I didn't quite feel full when the sandwich and fries were gone, but I could have fixed that if I'd eaten the enormous half-pickle that came with them (it was a pretty good pickle, but my pickle tolerance is low). I drank water to keep my costs down, and don't feel that I overpaid for the combination of the meal and the view. Overall I'd recommend the experience, but alas, it is no more.

Tie Dye Grill : This place has wonderful decor, including lava lamps, tie-dyed tablecloths, seventies rock posters, and vases with smiling cloth flowers. It's a little strange that you can see a desk right inside the front door--apparently this is the management office--but not actually offputting. The kitchen area is mostly open, and if you sit at the high tables in the center of the dining area you can watch most of your food being prepared: you can certainly smell it, and it smells great. The staff was very friendly, and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this would still have been true if they hadn't already known we were coming. We ordered at our table but paid at a register up front. The plastic drink glasses are a lovely cobalt blue, a surprisingly refreshing change from the ubiquitous red Coke glass. Utensils are metal, and napkins are paper. Make sure you get lots of napkins: this is a juicy sandwich. Our food was served in plastic baskets on waxed paper. The tie dye fries were a bit pricey, but had a peppery seasoning that I really liked. The sandwich had lots of tasty beef with good texture, not from a processed meat loaf. The bread got rather soggy, so make sure to flip the sandwich over as soon as it arrives. It might help if they were to protect both slices of bread with the cheese as some restaurants do, but the Swiss they use here has big holes so I'm not sure. What really makes this sandwich is the dressing: it has some extra twang to it, and I'm not sure what it is, but the result is a Reuben with a unique flavor that I really enjoyed. I was pleasantly full when I left. Between the atmosphere and the flavor I doubt there's anywhere on Earth you can have a Reuben experience like this one, and you ought to try it at least once.

Propylaeum Tea Room : The Propylaeum has a parking lot on the north side, accessible from Delaware. You'll want to park there instead of along the street. The building is lovely, and I was especially struck by the beautiful branches adorning the front doors. The docent directed me to the dining area, and along the way I saw that all the ceilings had beautiful decorations painted on them. The tables in the dining room had lace tablecloths, covered with glass, with cute snowman centerpieces. The place settings were porcelain, with linen napkins, glasses, and metal flatware with both salad and dining forks. Tea was served in china teacups from a silver teapot. Our server was elegant in a black suit and bow tie, and she was very polite and friendly. Our sandwiches were served with garnish of a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice (which I ate: it was tasty), and a quarter pickle spear. We had the choice of potato salad or vegetable chips with the sandwich. I chose the potato salad, which was made from red potatoes and mayonnaise sauce, with some other colorful bits thrown in: it was good, but not exceptional. The vegetable chips on Chris's plate looked like TERRA brand Exotic Vegetable Chips. The sandwich was on a perfectly toasted dark pumpernickel of medium thickness. It had three thick slices of smoked turkey: obviously processed, but tasty. There was a thick slice of Swiss that I could actually taste, and a little bit of well-drained sauerkraut that I could barely taste. I'm not sure if there was any thousand island or not: if there was, it was quite a small amount, which probably helped keep the bread so nicely crisp. After our sandwiches our server brought out cinnamon rolls, which were lightly frosted and served with butter on the side: they were pretty good, but not the gooey flavorful masses I'm used to. The sandwich was of a good size--not overly large--and with the tomato, potato salad, and roll, I was pleasantly full afterward. Chef Mike came out at the end to ask about our experience, and the response was favorable from the whole group. Overall, it's not often you find a Reuben in as elegant a setting as this (especially since the Eagle's Nest and the Ayres Tea Room have stopped serving them), and the sandwich did justice to the setting.

Grindstone Charley's : This place has a fun movie motif, with posters decorating the walls. Service was friendly. The place settings include metal flatware and paper napkins. The sandwich was served on a china plate, and the dressing came in a black plastic cup on the side. The fries were fairly typical. The sandwich was tasty, but didn't have much of a rye bread flavor. It also may have been just a bit on the small side: I was still a little hungry afterward.

The Ram : I have previously had a couple of really good Reubens at The Ram, and always enjoyed my experiences there in the past. So I was tremendously disappointed that this outing went so poorly. 42 minutes after our arrival I still had no food, and my first Diet Coke sat empty in front of me. This was in spite of the fact that they didn't seem busy when we arrived for our reservation at 11:30, we were the only the second table seated in our group, and I'd even warned them that we'd all be having Reubens (so they wouldn't run out of ingredients). When our sandwiches finally did arrive (last of our five tables, though we were the second table seated) the kraut was completely out of control: Tom had only a strand or two, whereas I had at least enough for both of us. There was plenty of meat, which was fine, but I couldn't taste the dressing, and I could only taste the rye around the edges where the meat and kraut weren't piled so high. I couldn't taste the horseradish havarti at all, which was particularly sad because it's the distinctive feature of The Ram's Reuben. And all this for a $12 sandwich. Other than the sandwich and the slow service, it was still the same Ram experience I've enjoyed in the past: nice atmosphere, tasty Ram chips, pretty patterned china plates, metal flatware, linen napkins. The plastic "Coke" logo glasses seem out of place. The tables we sat at had drop leaves that drooped somewhat (a common problem) but were mostly functional. We ended up sitting in a long line of such tables, which limited the interaction of our large group, but that was mostly our fault: we were directed to an area where we could have sat in tables and booths around each other in a more rectangular arrangement. I must admit that I was surprised, though, that when I told them to expect a group of 24 that they didn't arrange for us to sit at prearranged tables in the back room, as they had done for a much smaller outing I'd participated in just a few days earlier. If this had been my first Ram experience, I would never go back.

Broad Ripple Tavern : I loved the open windows at this place. Okay, so I had to shoo a fly away from my potato salad a couple of times, but I love fresh air, and enjoying it inside in the shade was very pleasant. Even though there were ashtrays on the table, I didn't smell any smoke at all. The dining area seemed very clean, but I heard that the men's room wasn't in the state one might have hoped at 11:30am. Service was very friendly and attentive, and my drink was refilled without my having to ask. I was pleased to learn that I could have ordered a cider, since I don't find ciders as often as I like, but since I was returning to work afterward that was unfortunately not an option. Food was served on china with metal flatware in a paper napkin, and drinks came in glass. My sandwich came with three round pickle slices and a serving of potato salad. The potato salad was surprisingly bland: it was like they had created a neutral base potato salad that could have had mustard or sour cream or bacon or anything added to it, and then stopped before flavoring it with anything at all. It didn't taste bad, but I didn't feel the need to finish it. The sandwich halves were held together with decorative toothpicks. Mine was perfectly toasted, nice and crisp the way I like it, without being so dry as to be abrasive. There were good quantities of beef and kraut, and overall the size of the sandwich was just about perfect: I didn't feel bloated and overfull after finishing it, but I wasn't the slightest bit hungry that afternoon. However, none of the ingredients had a very strong flavor. Okay, so I usually can't taste the cheese anyway, and it's not too strange for the beef and the dressing to be a bit subtle, but the kraut and rye flavors are usually pretty strong. This sandwich had wonderful texture--crisp outside, soft and juicy inside--but flavorwise there just wasn't much there, almost as if it feared to offend. Now that I ponder it, I have to wonder if my nose was stuffed up and I didn't notice, since I didn't seem to smell or taste much in the place at all, but I distinctly remember smelling cut grass on the way back to work so I don't think that's it. So while I did enjoy the sandwich, it fell short of the full Reuben experience, in which all the disparate flavors should blend together to something greater than the sum of its parts. Overall it was a pleasant, inoffensive experience, and one I'd happily repeat, but next time I'd wait until after work so I could have that cider too. And I'd ask the chef to kick the flavors up a notch or three.

Marble's Cafe : This is a little place tucked in the middle of a little strip mall that I'd never even noticed before. The decor is minimal, but what's there is pleasant: little vases of nice flowers, a few prints on the walls. The interior tables are pretty small, probably only suitable for two diners, and two wall-mounted TVs blare the news. The two tables on the sidewalk outside are markedly superior, comfortably seating four under umbrellas that aren't necessary because the building itself provides excellent shade. Also outside we had piped jazz and the trees of the park across the street, and even though the location is wedged betweeen I-465 and I-65, I didn't notice much highway noise and had little trouble conversing with the other Reuben afficianados. Fortunately no one complained when we brought another table and a few chairs out so we could all sit together. No fountain drinks of any kind are provided, only a choice of Faygo and Pepsi products served in bottles from a cooler behind the register. I had Faygo Peach, which was decent enough and an interesting change. Table service was prewrapped, if I recall, and condiments were provided in individual serving packets. The sandwich was served in a paper-lined plastic basket/tray, with battered and seasoned steak fries and a pickle spear. I typically find steak fries bland, with too much flavorless mush in the middle of the crunchy exterior, and these were typical specimens of that variety. The sandwich, on the other hand, was an interesting and unusual concoction. The most obvious difference was that it was made with three slices of presliced sandwich bread. While the bread didn't seem to have any particular rye flavor (and ironically enough was not a marbled rye, despite the name of the restaurant), it was perfectly toasted, and I think the extra bread in the interior helped absorb the juices that can make a Reuben a very messy sandwich. The other variation was that it was made with both Swiss and American cheese: on most Reubens the cheese doesn't really stand out, but on this sandwich the cheese blended nicely with the other flavors. There was a good amount of kraut and dressing, and though I encountered one small bit of gristle the meat was otherwise quite good in flavor, texture, and quantity. Overall it made for a tasty sandwich, and of good enough size that I didn't feel the need for a bite of the extra sandwich we received. I'm not sure why there was an extra sandwich, I assume that with so many of us showing up and not all at the same time, the cook simply lost count, but it may have been a sort of goodwill offering. As far as I know, no one was charged for it, and it certainly didn't go to waste. I'm a bit confused over the pricing. The menu listed the Reuben platter at $7.95, but at the register (where we paid after dining, not before) we were only charged $7.53 each, with drink included. Some mention was made of a special, but I didn't catch the details. Regardless, the Marble's Reuben was an interesting and unexpected pleasure at a reasonable price.