Restaurant Date
MCL Cafeteria & Deli 2003-07-08 A+ B B+ B+ B B+
Airport Deli 2003-07-22 B- B C C C C
Einstein Bros. Bagels 2003-08-05 C- B- C B A- C
Elegance Restaurant 2004-07-06 D- B C- B A D
Lake Line Pub 2004-07-31 A+ A A A A+ A
McAlister's Deli 2004-11-09 A B+ A- A- A+ A
Big Apple Bagels 2004-12-07 C+ A B B- A B-
106 St. Grill 2004-12-21 B B B C+ A- B-
Houlihan's 2005-01-25 A B A A B A
Lincoln Square 2005-03-08 B+ B B B+ A B+
Sweet Home Chicago 2005-04-05 A A B- A B A
Gisela's Kaffeekr�nzchen 2005-04-20 B B A- A C B
Arby's Restaurant 2005-05-17 A A B B C B
Loughmiller's Pub & Eatery 2005-09-26 B- B- B+ B+ B- B
Joe's Shelby Street Diner 2005-11-01 C- B B A B C
Alcatraz Brewing Company 2006-02-21 C D A A A C
Culver's Restaurant 2006-03-14
The Rathskeller 2006-04-04
Big Dave's Deli & Meats 2006-08-01
Champps Americana 2006-09-14
Eagle Creek Coffee Company 2006-11-16
Claddagh Irish Pub 2006-12-20
Slaviansky Bazar 2007-01-23
Bourbon Street Distillery 2007-04-24
Broad Ripple Tavern 2009-07-21

MCL Cafeteria & Deli : As a Reuben Tuesday Rookie, I found my first time out to be a somewhat pleasant experience... other than the drive. Unfortunately, the battle to get there on time somewhat dimmed the experience. Parking also tended to enhance the irritation. Once I was inside and figured out the floor plan, I was able to order without too much of a hassle. I noticed that the deli area doesn't seem to offer much direction for those waiting, and if you don't speak up quick enough, you're left behind. Along with the Reuben I was able to order my favorite beverage of Raspberry Tea. I was given a number, told to take a seat and wait for the delivery. I had to flag the server down while attracting the attention of pretty much everyone in the east dining area (I'm sure everyone was pleased to see I received my sandwich). On first observation, I thought the Reuben looked a tad bit on the small side for the price, however, I found that it was probably the appropriate size for lunch. I've always been a Reuben fan and found this to have been one of the best I've eaten. The bread was the appropriate thickness and texture with the right amount of meat and ingredients. It was assembled well and had the right combination of flavors. A repeat visit will be in order.

Airport Deli : The interior seemed cramped although the ceiling fan designed to look like a WWII fighter plane engine cowl was a nice touch. Of course I arrived as everyone was leaving. I was given the heads up about "too much dressing" making the sandwich somewhat soggy, so I took heed to the warning and asked for "light on the dressing". I noticed a collection of guests that appeared to be "locals" and even a uniformed airline employee that said they frequent there quite often. Usually that's a good sign. After I ordered, I was told to take a seat and they would bring my sandwich out. After several minutes, a server walked by and said "Reuben, light on the sauce", which signaled me to raise my hand. I received a sandwich clad in toasted whole wheat bread which didn't appear to be the best idea to cover an already somewhat moist sandwich. I've always heard the expression "soup sandwich" and now I have experienced it. After eating about two-thirds of it, I was then made aware that I was given someone else's sandwich (the reason for the whole wheat). I finished what I was given and continued to eat the chips provided until I found the pickle buried underneath. Just as I was taking in the last bite, the server brought me a Reuben on rye wrapped to go with a sincere side order of apologies. The value was good, but I found the sandwich (including the to-go that I ate as a late dinner) to be disappointing. The corned beef was also a bit on the fatty side. Good intentions aside, unfortunately I probably wouldn't return unless it was for the barbecued pork which appears to be their forte.

Einstein Bros. Bagels : Easy to find but the parking was atrocious although I got to park in front of the door. Service was quick. I ordered the Reuben with turkey pastrami on a pumpernickel bagel with the potato salad side. It also came with a good crisp pickle that seemed to be the best part of the ensemble. The potato salad was okay. The turkey was light in color with what appeared to be "pepper specks" (?). It pretty much just tasted like smoked turkey. I couldn't taste the dressing and found the sauerkraut to have only a light taste (other evaluators said they couldn't taste the kraut at all). What's up with mustard???? Never found that on a Reuben before. The other problem with eating anything on a bagel other that cream cheese or the such... the chance that someone else is going to wind up wearing the contents of your sandwich. I've found bagel sandwiches excellent devices for initiating a food fight right after the contents go flying into someone else's face. In all, the sandwich didn't really taste bad; it just didn't taste anything remotely like a Reuben. At least they had raspberry tea.

Elegance Restaurant : Wowwww!!!!.....I don't think I've ever driven so far for such a singularly disappointing experience. As I sit here typing, I have a trash can to the left of me in the event I start to have a reverse experience of the sandwich, and I use the term "sandwich" loosely. It would have made John Montague roll over in his grave. Besides the almost 50 mile round trip, that was the poorest excuse for a Reuben, or any sandwich, since I wound up eating it with a fork after the third bite. The restaurant was easy to find, parking was a breeze, interior appeared clean and unobtrusive, and the service was quick and to the point. Obviously, all these factors are designed to lure you in for the "kill". As I arrived last as usual, I placed my order by grunting and pointing to Reubenites at the adjacent table. A salad came quickly. The lettuce appeared freshly-torn and the dressing was passable. The alleged "Reuben" followed quickly. The plate consisted of an open face "sandwich" with what was supposed to be by appearance... lean corned beef (looked like Marsh deli economy grade), white cheese slices, sauerkraut, and some unknown red seasoning lightly dashed on the cheese. The dressing, which had "stuff" in it, was on the side. I was told that it's not unusual to have bits of pickle in the dressing, but I saw red in it also... who knows? The "unholy" cheese appeared to be Kraft singles or some such and lacked any similarity to a quality Swiss necessary to carry off taste. Sheer conjecture indicates that the red seasoning may have been cayenne due to a slightly distinctive heat to the taste buds, however.... what's up with cayenne on a Reuben? Under the sandwich was a slice of a beefsteak tomato that wasn't bad, and one half of a gherkin. Okay.... I've never seen a bifurcated gherkin..... what's the point? To the side of the sandwich was a heap of potato chip shards. Chris had commented on the pre crumbled crackers still in the wrappers.... must be a trademark thing. At least the company and the opportunity to see my nephew saved it from being a completely wasted trip. Oh yeah... the lemonade wasn't bad.

Lake Line Pub : During a layover while enroute to San Francisco via the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport, Pam and I ran across this place in the Lindbergh Terminal between Gates F6 and F7. The atmosphere was like being in an episode of "Cheers", only half the bar and floor space... oh, and no pool table. Our server would not have qualified for cast either, but the fact that we said we'd like to split the sandwich and she graciously served it on two separate plates, demonstrated her attention to the patron. The sandwich was on a pumpernickel style rye that held up well to the grill and was slightly crispy. Pam's half was a little moister on the down side. The cut halves displayed that the sandwich was well engineered. The corned beef was some of the leanest I've seen and had to have been placed on the bread a slice at a time, making a sandwich that had the same composition of ingredients in each bite. It must have been assembled by an obsessive compulsive chef. Each bite shared the same individually identifiable flavors of rye, corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and the "special sauce", which resembled a snappy 1000 Island dressing. The undivided serving must routinely come with a half of a Vlasic style pickle and a generous portion of "Irish chips" which are waffle cut potatoes that have been seasoned for a slight kick. Each of us had a quarter of a pickle and half a serving of the potatoes. The portions we were served were more than sufficient to kill our hunger and although this Reuben would have been pricey in comparison, divided between us was a real bargain.

McAlister's Deli : As many of these events as I've missed, at least I was on the right side of town for this one. Finding it was easy and parking was plentiful. Chris was good enough to order my sandwich and drink since I couldn't arrive before noon. As soon as I arrived, so did my sandwich, and the receipt had shown it only took five minutes from order to the table. The sandwich tasted as good as it looked. The bread was a toasted light rye and was generously packed with corned beef. The cheese seemed a little on the light side, but the sauerkraut was about right. The potato salad side complemented the sandwich and the pickle was crisp. The lemonade was as good as fresh. I enjoyed the experience enough to have... a Reuben Wednesday.

Big Apple Bagels : Oh well, it's a bagel place, what more can I say. Service wasn't bad once the guy in front of me shut up and moved on, and even then he still needed help finding self-service stuff. When I ordered, I was asked what kind of bagel I wanted on my Reuben... give me a break, "How about cinnamon?" After we picked out pumpernickel, the sandwich itself seemed to be ready in seconds. The price was fair for the combo with chips and a drink. I chose jalapeno deli chips and dark roast coffee.. hey, this is my lunch, not yours. The coffee was very good and the deli pickle spear was one of the best I've had at one of these events. The corned beef seemed very lean and ample. I could taste the sauerkraut, however the cheese seemed lost and the sauce was only hinted at. The bagel... ah, there's the rub... I couldn't really taste any pumper, let alone nickel. It seemed like a large doughy mass... kinda like... a bagel. Which is why I now vow never to eat another pseudo make-believe Reuben that includes the word "bagel" involved in the description of the sandwich or in the name of the business. The contents were probably fine, but the bagel just sorta smothered the entire appeal of whatever may have existed when this thing was conjured up. Oh well, at least the conversation about eBay, a cane, and a grilled cheese sandwich made it all worth while. I think it did... hey, I drove 50 miles again to be there.

106 St. Grill : Well marked, easy to find, and the parking wasn't bad since I got a place practically in front of the door. Noisy Sports Bar atmosphere made conversation a little difficult. An Indy type race car hung upside down in one corner over arcade games. Didn't look inviting to play under. Seating seemed a bit cramped. Service was fairly quick and the Reuben arrived within about ten minutes. The sandwich looked good on delivery and the plate was heaped with ripple chips, the dressing was on the side and... wait... where's the pickle? Sometimes the best part of these luncheons is the pickle. The sandwich was on a firm marble rye. The dressing tasted like it was prepared on site and the first bite had a good flavor. All the parts of the Reuben's flavor were there. After that, the meat seemed to slip around under the bread since the cheese was completely melted. I'm not sure if the cheese was originally a slice, a spread, or hot goo poured onto the bread. The texture of the meat was stiff and the slices were thick and uniform in appearance, not like a quality deli sliced corned beef. It gave me the impression that it had just been peeled from a vacuum sealed wrapper that you would purchase lunch meat in from Marsh. The taste wasn't bad, it just lacked... pizzazz. Oh yeah, I had to drink water again since they didn't have raspberry tea or fresh lemonade. Oh well, it's a sports bar.

Houlihan's : This may have been a precedent setting event. I've found that usually the farther I drive, the poorer the experience. This location was a matter of minutes away and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Easy to find and plenty of parking. The staff was very accommodating in seating the largest group that I've lunched with during these events. The interior appeared to be done in an early twentieth century style with a lot of interesting wall hangings and paraphernalia, and a large Tiffany style light fixture in the center of the ceiling. "Low tones" conducive to conversation. After we befuddled the waitress with the near compulsive set of sandwich orders, it did seem a while before the plates hit the table. They had Arizona raspberry ice tea in the can which always enhances my patience. I had dittoed someone else's order, so my plate arrived with a large pile of onion straws, a pickle, and one of the best sandwiches I've had during one of these sessions. A "variegated" marble rye with lots of lean flavorful corned beef, a thick slice of real Swiss cheese, a sweet German style caraway sauerkraut, and just enough dressing to taste. Although it was on the higher end of the dollar and cent scale, it was one of the best Reubens I've had, and the unique sauerkraut gave it an interesting twist. I would definitely return, but next time I might have to do a "Fat Tuesday" review of the Jambalaya instead.

Lincoln Square : Well, since I'm the one who suggested the place, I felt bad that I couldn't meet the group to share the experience... so I had a Reuben Tuesday dinner break. I've eaten here several times and had the Reuben on a previous occasion and thought it was better than some of my prior experiences elsewhere. On this occasion I had my order placed in advance by a cohort, so I didn't know exactly what I was getting until I sat down other than the sandwich. Service was efficient once you get through the server's accent, which is common there and in great variety since the owners are Mediterranean. They always have raspberry tea (my favorite) which usually enhances any meal for me. The plate arrived with the Reuben, a side of 1000 Island Dressing, a mound of fries, and--no pickle. That was disappointing, however I don't recall if I was served one last time. The fries were flat on flavor as is they had been sitting around awhile. On the other hand, the sandwich was on a toasted light flavorful rye that never got soggy and when I added the dressing, it appeared to be unevenly assembled: bread-meat-kraut-meat-bread. I guess the cheese was there somewhere, but I don't recall seeing or really tasting it, although the flavor of the sandwich was good, just a little uneven. I enjoyed the sandwich and will have it again in the future. However, I may ask for a pickle. By the way, on Wednesdays they have excellent Italian Wedding Soup.

Sweet Home Chicago : This place broke the streak of long distance Reuben disappointments, although I wasn't so sure when I first saw the sandwich. This was another 50-mile-plus round trip which usually equals a Reuben of crapola stature. The place really isn't hard to find although I drove by it since MapQuest doesn't recognize the address. Nice 50s decor and great Blues music. The value was great although I was disappointed at the selective lack of a pickle with the Reuben. I guess if you order a dog, you get a pickle. I can see that? For some reason, my sandwich took a little longer to prepare than a larger order that was placed after mine. When I picked the sandwich up laying on the wax paper in the plastic basket, I did notice a very pleasing reubeny aroma. Then I looked at it... I have never seen corned beef that looked like that. There was a chunk outside of the bread that was hanging by a sinew. It looked predigested. All of a sudden I had a mental picture of a sweat shop of small children in the back tasked to pre-chew the corned beef before it was sent up to the grill for preparation. I decided not to share that thought with the rest of the diners since most had just finished eating as I arrived and I didn't want to be ejected and trespassed from the premises. The last time I ate something that looked like that... well, needless to say, it wasn't a good thing. However, the fact that Chris ordered a second sandwich (and I find his judgment to be usually sound), I figured it was safe to eat. The flavor was excellent. The bread was a little slick to the touch from what appeared to be a butter basting for the grill. There was lots of sauerkraut bulging out, but it didn't over power the rest of the ingredients. The cheese had melted and was flavorful, but each bite left stringy connections to the sandwich. The marble rye held up well although it did lend to a sense of eating a Reuben "Sloppy Joe". They even had Lipton Raspberry Ice Tea in the bottle. They get a few points for that. All visual points aside, I'd go back for another... I'd just try not to think about it while I ate.

Gisela's Kaffeekr�nzchen : I was trying to squeeze this in before I went to work, so I was rushing down the walk looking up at the signs. As soon as I saw it, I made a hard right and wound up in a frame shop? The entrances are next to each other and Gisela's is a narrow stairwell to the upper level of the building. After scaling what seemed like fifty steps, you enter a very quaint, but very dark, recreation of an old German restaurant. After we all placed our orders and were looked at in horror for all ordering Reubens, we were informed that there were not enough fixins to accommodate eight sandwiches since a Reuben is not their fort�. Since the verdict was only six possible, one evaluator fell on the sword and ate one of the Bratwurst and Knackwurst platters. In lieu of missing the Reuben, and at my prodding, Brian conceded to split a Reuben and a Wurst platter with me. The Reuben wasn't bad when it finally arrived, but I would say that the wursts were obviously the treat. The sandwich was fine, but not as dynamic as I expected--nothing negative, just not outstanding. The wurst platter on the other hand was quite good. I liked the potato salad with bacon. I would have liked to have tried one of the import brews available, but I felt my "business attire" would have visibly been in professional conflict with that thought. It took an inordinate amount of time to put the bills together. I'm not sure if I would return unless I knew someone with a real hankerin' for German food.

Arby's Restaurant : I had already tested this sandwich several times prior to this occasion and was quite impressed with it for a "fast food" establishment. Of course, for me, even fast food seems to become slow food. It's my lot in life. I think it's because I traveled a distance again. I ordered jalapeno poppers as the side... I thought it would complement the sandwich. They were out of raspberry tea--another let down. I also asked for a side of extra dressing. I don't usually do this, but someone at the table invariably does this, so I thought it was my turn. I asked... waited... then had to ask again... took awhile. Wasn't impressed with the service, but the place was busy as it is located near the interstate and a newly congested business area. The sandwich tasted the same as always--quite good--but I find that unusual that every one comes out the same: too mechanized. The bread is like nothing I've ever seen available. It has the texture of polyurethane foam wrap used for protecting glass objects during shipment. However, if you like a Reuben, you can't beat it in a pinch. The sad part is it's only temporary.

Loughmiller's Pub & Eatery : Travel time for me was about two minutes. Historically speaking, based on the equation that the greater the distance, the crappier the sandwich, this should have been the best Reuben ever. It started looking up when I found street parking at a broken meter... hey, free parking is good. I walked in with the group... that's a second plus for me. They already had a table set aside for the "Reuben Club" (probably should involve membership cards and a secret hand shake). The group was large enough that we had to annex a small table. From this point on... slightly "ehhh". My favorite of raspberry tea was unavailable and the backup was fountain lemonade by Minute Maid--yuck. I was offered an "Arnold Palmer" which I thought meant I was about to get hit in the head with a 9 iron for being difficult. I learned that this is a blend of iced tea and lemonade... that's unconscionable. Getting your chocolate in your peanut butter may be acceptable, but you just don't put lemonade (especially bad lemonade) into tea. Water with a slice of lemon became the last resort of choice. At least twenty minutes went by before the first plate hit the table. Gives you a lot of time to look at the walls to study all of the old political media memorabilia. My plate, of course, arrived last. I think the cottage cheese side threw them off. The Reuben itself looked great on the plate. It had been cut in half and when I pulled it apart, steam rolled out which indicated that it hadn't sat anywhere too long. The first bite was almost too hot to eat... now that was a definite first, a real "hot" sandwich. The grilled marble rye was good, but as someone noted, you needed to flip it over after arrival so it didn't soak itself through. I failed to do that, so it sogged out early. I saw some color but tasted no dressing and the kraut was lacking in flavor. The corned beef looked dry, but there was plenty of it and the flavor was excellent. I also didn't notice any fat. There was a lot of cheese that had melted causing cheese tendrils between lips and sandwich. I think the Reuben had potential, they just may have been running out of patience by the time they were done with mine. I would go back since the quality of the ingredients seemed fine. I would just remember to "flip" and I'd ask for a side of dressing--and probably stick to chips or fries. They still need raspberry tea. Maybe I'll bring my own.

Joe's Shelby Street Diner : Although this was a very quaint place that put you in the mindset of being in a time gone by, there is no way to qualify this Reuben experience with a positive twist. Yes... the 50's lunch counter, decor, and the Wurlitzer were food for the eyes, but that alone doesn't make the grub taste better.... at least not to me. The seating was inordinately cramped which made me feel like I was invading everyone else's space. I was in a position to observe the sandwich preparation and was amazed at the amount of sauerkraut that was piled on each half on the grill. I thought the halves were to be topped with a slice of marble rye when I watched the grill master start flipping each huge mound onto another huge mound. They appeared to be at least three inches thick sitting on the grill. I missed the other preparation since it didn't catch my attention until I saw the heaps of kraut steaming away. When my plate arrived, it was heaped with fries, but no pickle. Oh yeah... raspberry tea didn't exist in the 50's and since I don't drink carbonated, water was the fluid of choice. This was not a Reuben.... this was a sauerkraut sandwich that had condiments consisting of a low grade corned beef and a cheese that looked like ricotta. There was little flavor to be had other than kraut on decimated rye... I even flipped it when it arrived and it still sogged out. The packet dressing was not appropriate for a Reuben since it had bits of bell pepper (?) in it. The fries weren't bad, however they were probably dropped in the same oil as the onion rings since that's what they tasted like. I can't be kind about this experience. The conversation was great, but the sandwich met crapola status.

Alcatraz Brewing Company : For such a mediocre sandwich, I think the management should be behind bars for the hi-way robbery that occurred. The quantity was there, but no quality. You could taste the beef, but not much else. The bread sogged out, there was a mass of fries, but hey, at least they had bottled raspberry tea... just had to add my own sugar. Besides, seeing all those bars was somewhat traumatizing.