: Good bread with great texture made a very durable sandwich. The corned beef was a bit bland but it was good quality meat, thinly sliced and lots of it. I needed to add mustard to spice it up. The cole slaw and lemonade were great. The outdoor patio and pleasant weather provided a great atmosphere. (2004-06-22)
: There was nothing wrong with my sandwich, it's just that there was nothing great about it. Sitting out on the patio made it very hard to go back to work. (2004-06-22)
: It was a stunning beautiful day. The sky was partly obscured by occasional clouds that wisped across the blue. The temperature hung in the mid 70s and it was time to eat Reubens once again.
We headed for McAlister's Deli in Carmel. We managed to get a parking spot right up front for a change. Some of our northside team had already arrived and had grabbed several tables outside. In honor of Chris's 50th Reuben Review, they had already ordered his sandwich. The rest of us went inside to queue up.
It took me several minutes in line to size up McAlister's. Most of the patrons were well-dressed in casual manner. Women in the latest fashions with flashing jewelry chatted with each other in line. Freshly scrubbed teenagers on summer vacation manned the checkout counters, taking customer orders and passing them to the kitchen. I ordered the Reuben, accompanied by potato salad and some sweet iced tea.
I walked back outside to join my fellow eaters. A slightly cool breeze drifted on the air. We joined in conversation about our usual topics. The sun shone bright on the hillside beside the cafe. Small finches flitted about on the perimeter of the eating area. Occasionally one would dart onto the patio to grab a small bite of food that the breeze placed there. The birds appeared to have no fear.
Other than my mom's, McAlister's iced sweet tea has no equal. It was sweet without losing the flavor of the tea. My Reuben arrived shortly after relaxing with my thoughts on the morning. The bread was slightly toasted on the outside leaving the middle still soft. The first bite was quite pleasing. An adequate amount of sauerkraut accents the flavor of the meat moistened with just the right amount of Thousand Island, just a little sloppy. Each subsequent bite was just a good as the first. The potato salad is top shelf; it's a southern variety with a little mustard for bite. The sandwich disappeared a little too fast, or maybe my hunger was too great. Whatever the problem, the sandwich was gone.
While I sipped the remnants of my iced tea, I looked around. Our group is usually an anomaly at the restaurants. We all eat the same thing and we're a larger group size (6-8). Here we stood out even more so. Most of the tables outside were populated by small groups of women. One table had only pregnant women laughing it up and having a good time. One table had a group of much older women quietly talking too low to hear the full subject. A few tables had couples, gazing at each other, lost in thoughts only known to new relationships.
There was our group, two tables pushed together, with all the spare chairs we can find; debating on the finer points of corned beef and if the bread was truly rye. Despite our strangeness, no one seems to notice or mind.
: 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. (2004-06-22)
: The beef was thick, but a little bland. The bread was average and a little soggy. The kraut, cheese, dressing were all blended perfectly with just the right amount. (2004-06-22)
: It was really nice to sit outdoors and enjoy the great day. McAlister's gives a lot for the money, but woe to you if you arrive after 11:30 and get caught in the lunch rush: Your wait time could easily jump from 5 minutes to 15-20. (2004-06-22)
: The rye bread was lightly toasted, thick, and stuffed with lots of medium-sliced, light-colored corned beef. The edges of my corned beef had a band of fat that was easily removed. The sandwich was a great volume and quite filling. I had the potato salad and it was very good, also. There were good clumps of sauerkraut on the sandwich and the thousand island was well-balanced. I really liked the outdoor seating at round iron tables on the patio. It was a very pleasant place to sit and eat--the servers were very polite to offer refills and we felt no desire to leave. As this was my 50th Reuben Review, I was pleasantly surprised by my Reuben-reviewing associates with candles spelling out "50" on the top of my sandwich. This place was great. The price was right and the sandwich was top notch. I highly recommend the McAlister's Reuben. (2004-06-22)
: Overall, I'd have to say I was rather pleased with the Reuben experience at McAlister's. The only thing that really had any room for improvement was that the bread wasn't toasted quite enough. The large sandwich was very economically priced, especially for Carmel. I'm writing this review 5 hours post-Reuben, and I'm still not hungry. The ingredients seemed to be well-blended and of high quality. We ate outside on the patio, and the weather was perfect. (I'm pretty sure McAlister's can't control that, but if they can, they get bonus points.) With all of the factors combined, (great taste, value, and weather), I had no choice but to give the overall experience an A+. Reuben eaters in the Carmel area definitely owe it to themselves to visit McAlister's in mid-to-late June and enjoy a Reuben outside on the patio. (2004-06-22)
: I'm writing this review after so long that I almost forgot how my Reuben looked like. Oh well, better late then never.
Reuben was very good. Little soggy bread but perfectly blend with sauerkraut and beef. And yes, sitting outside in good weather--how can you not notice? However, I still rate McAlister at second best to last week's outing at Friendly Tavern in Zionsville (That was really good).
: The Reuben was tasty! The amount of meat, as well as the quality of the meat was excellent. A balanced amount of thousand island, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese made for a complete sandwich. The only thing that might be improved upon was the flavor of the meat; adding some spices/seasoning to the meat could make the sandwich top notch. Also, I chose the potato salad for my side and it was delicious! (2004-06-22)