Arby’s has made a lot of money doing one thing very well: roast beef. Sure, they’ve branched out into other sandwiches, especially in recent years, and you’ll never find a more ardent defender of their Chicken Bacon Swiss sandwich than on this blog. But overall, it’s their thin-sliced roast beef that provides them with a reliable foothold in the fast food world. I was interested, then, to try the Smokehouse Brisket, It follows the usual Arby’s format pretty closely, but rather than roast beef, the beef here is smoked, and not only smoked, but smoked for “at least 13 hours,” as the website repeatedly assures us. Sounds interesting, but does it have the juice?

Absolutely, positively no less than 13 hours of smoking! This thing should come with a Surgeon General's warning!

Absolutely, positively no less than 13 hours of smoking! This thing should come with a Surgeon General’s warning!

…To some extent, yeah. The Smokehouse Brisket is piled pretty high with smoked beef, which actually turned out pretty good. It has a nice, distinct flavor, and a texture that’s chewier than roast beef while still remaining pleasing. It’s also loaded up with smoked Gouda cheese (an interesting, if somewhat bland choice), crispy onions, BBQ sauce and mayo. Everything pulls together pretty well, but not overpoweringly so. One odd bit to note is that while the sandwich is designed to be served on a toasted bun, mine came on a basic sesame seed roll, and after comparing the two, I actually prefer the mistake, I don’t know if it’s work a special order, but given the circumstances, I thought it was worth mentioning.

The Smokehouse Brisket is a little pricier than the average Arby’s sandwich, coming in around $7.50 for a combo. I wouldn’t call it a must-buy, but if you’re at Arby’s and feeling a little adventurous, I’d check it out.

Arby’s isn’t the first chain to partner up with King’s Hawaiian, a small baking company known for their thick, sweet Hawaiian rolls. KFC pulled a similar trick a few years ago with the Doublicious, which itself was (my theory) a way to salvage the good parts of the shock value-based Double Down. I’ve been a fan of King’s Hawaiian even longer than that, ever since a friend and roommate brought a batch of rolls back from home after Christmas one year. When I saw that Arby’s added it to the menu, I figured it’d be right up my alley.

Did you guys see The Descendants? I liked it. I mean, not as much as Up In The Air, but it was still pretty good.

Did you guys see The Descendants? I liked it. I mean, not as much as Up In The Air, but it was still pretty good.

And it was, for the most part. The biggest issue I had with it couldn’t really be helped, which was that roast beef wouldn’t be my first choice as a meat pairing with this type of bread. I usually make ham sandwiches with it, and it went slightly better with chicken and bacon. Still, Arby’s roast beef is some of the best you can get around, and it certainly didn’t taste bad. The sandwich also includes Swiss cheese, a Dijon sauce, and pickles, which was kind of a new and interesting addition for an Arby’s sandwich. It was also much more filling than I expected, owning in part to the thicker, fuller bun, as well as the larger portion of roast beef.

The King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef and Swiss runs for around $6 in a combo. It’s a pretty great deal, given that it’s tasty, filling, and different from most other offerings. Still, if you can’t afford all that, Arby’s also has a basic roast beef on King’s Hawaiian. I’d highly recommend trying this sandwich while it’s still around. Everyone should learn the truth that is King’s Hawaiian, and this is a relatively low-risk introduction.

Turkey is generally a hard sell for me when I’m eating a sandwich at a restaurant. Deli-style sliced turkey is an even harder sell. It’s not my favorite meat, and I generally think that if I’m going to eat a turkey sandwich I may as well make it myself at home and save some money. I understand that turkey is a comparatively cheap, healthy option, but it doesn’t generally appeal to me outside of Thanksgiving. But I wanted to stop by Arby’s and see what was new, and I decided to give the flagship sandwich of their new Turkey Roasters line, the Grand Turkey Club, a shot.

How grand! How perfectly grand!!

It was surprisingly grand after all!! The hook of the Turkey Roasters is that they’re served hot, which is a nice step towards making a deli-sliced sandwich feel more like a proper meal. The Club is pretty standard, with bacon, swiss, tomato, lettuce and mayo on Arby’s wheat bun, but the high quality ingredients set it apart from the standard sub shop turkey sandwich, There’s not a whole lot to say beyond that; if you like turkey clubs, this is a great one.

The Grand Turkey Club has melted my hard heart towards sliced turkey sandwiches, at least the ones from Arby’s. It’s definitely worth picking up.

This year, Arby’s introduced a Reuben as a seasonal tie-in to St. Patrick’s Day.  You know, because it has corned beef on it.  Here’s the problem: the Reuben is a traditionally Jewish sandwich, not an Irish one.  It’s a common delicatessen offering, but there isn’t really anything Irish about it.  But hey, A for effort, at least.

I pity the fool who doesn't add turkey to his Reuben!!

The thing that makes this Reuben “super” is the addition of turkey.  I don’t think it helped or hurt very much one way or another, and I’m sure you get pretty much the same effect with their regular Reuben.  The Super Reuben was pretty good, as fast food Reubens go.  The corned beef was surprisingly thick cut, and the sauerkraut was of a higher quality than I’d expect from a chain restaurant.  Make no mistake, it’s still not on the level of most Coney Islands or delis, but if you need a quick Reuben fix, this is a pretty good option.

The Super Reuben runs for around $6-7 in a combo, which is a little pricey.  However, I believe the normal Reuben goes for about a dollar less, and is pretty much the same, unless you’re a die-hard turkey fan.  It’s worth checking out, if you’re in the mood.

Arby’s has a new rewards card, and it’s one hell of a card.  the MyArbysRewards program runs circles around the usual “tenth sandwich free” punch-card system.  The card is a plastic credit-card style number which connects to an online database to keep track of your Arby’s purchases.  In addition to a free roast beef sandwich upon activation, the card also racks up progressively bigger rewards every two visits each month.  These rewards can be selected from one of four different tiered progression systems, which are themed around items like Market Fresh sandwiches, desserts, and classic roast beef.  Most of them end with free combos after your eighth (!!!) Arby’s visit in a month.  I’ve played role-playing games with designs less advanced than this.  My one suggestion would be to add a self check-in upon entry which prompts the cashier to greet you by name, a la Up In The Air, but that’s just me.

The exact face I made when I saw the four rewards options.

And if you’re interested in making your first Qualified Visit* with your new card, the new Cravin’ Chicken Sandwich isn’t a bad bet.  It includes the new Prime-Cut chicken breast (which I assume is less processed than the other chicken they use, but I don’t know for sure), lettuce, tomato, and the new Cravin’ sauce, a dark, slightly peppery sauce reminiscent of a fancy salad dressing.  It’s pretty good, and it complements the other comparatively basic ingredients well.  Although the Chicken Bacon Swiss is still the Cadillac of fast food chicken sandwiches, the Cravin’ Chicken is a worthy competitor.

"Let's just say I have a number in my head, and I haven't hit it yet."

A Cravin’ Chicken combo runs for about $5, well worth it given its large size and high quality.  Plus, it’ll bring you one step closer to those mythic Platinum rewards.

UPDATE:  I’ve received word that Arby’s will be discontinuing the MyArbysRewards program in favor of a more traditional email coupon club.  I know, I’m disappointed too, but this idea’s time just hasn’t quite come yet.

This Saturday is the 47th anniversary of the founding of Arby’s restaurants.  To recognize this auspicious occasion, Arby’s is offering their Classic Roast Beef Sandwich for only $0.64, with purchase of a 22 0z. drink.  While it’ll end up a bit more than 64 cents, it’s still a good deal, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of it.  To do so, visit Arby’s Facebook page on Friday and print off a coupon to redeem at any Arby’s location.

P.S.  I’m not trying to shill for Arby’s or anything, I just saw this rather underpublicized special far enough ahead of time to post a heads-up.  If anyone knows of any other special offers, let me know in the comments.

Haven't seen this guy in a while. Wonder if he's gonna be part of the birthday celebration?

See, I told you I’d be back!!  Arby’s latest new menu item is their ‘Shroom and Swiss, a more classic roast beef sandwich.  Their “Good Mood Food” brand blends elements of their normal and more upscale “Marketplace” lines, but this one is definitely in the former category.

'Shroom & Swiss Sandwich: not hallucinogenic.

The most interesting thing about the ‘Shroom and Swiss is that Arby’s has released basically the same sandwich before, as the Steakhouse Sub.  There are slight differences, including the titular mushrooms and the style of bun, but from what I can tell, the Swiss cheese, onion straws, and spread are all identical.  I liked the Steakhouse Sub a little bit more, mainly because of the shape of the roll, but the mushrooms do add a little bit to the flavor.

A ‘Shroom & Swiss combo runs for about $6.  It’s not as good as the Steakhouse Sub, so go with that if they happen to have it at your local Arby’s.  If not, it’s still a good sandwich, leagues beyond their recent Angus Three Cheese and Bacon.  I just don’t have much to say about it because I’ve said pretty much all of it before.