Sandwich Name: Blackstone Reuben ($16.00)
Menu Description: Corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand island, house mustard, Gruyère, rye bread.
Included Side Items: Choice of chips
Presentation: The Reuben was cut straight down the middle and served on a china plate with a bag of chips next to it. The sandwich was made on a very dark rye bread with Gruyère cheese lining both the top and bottom slices of bread. Inside the cheese was a layer of sauerkraut followed by Thousand Island dressing mixed with the house mustard surrounding the corned beef.
Dimensions: 650 cm3 (13 cm x 10 cm x 5 cm)
Bulk-to-Cost Ratio: 41 cm3/dollar
Review - Chris Rowland
Review Date: Oct 21, 2022, 11:55 AM
Liked: Beautiful dining room
Disliked: Hours of availability
As any true Reuben sandwich lover would know, the original Reuben was invented at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha for Reuben Kulakofsky by Bernard Schimmel. Well, the Blackstone has been remodeled and made into a Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel and they serve a Blackstone Reuben in their Orléans Room dining room.
Unfortunately, this dining room is only open during lunch hours, and on the Friday when we paid a visit we were sure to time our visit to be their during the appointed hours, but it wasn't open. We had to instead order from the "Orléans Express" next door—but fortunately they were serving the Blackstone Reuben! This "Express" only serves the Reuben "to-go." So we asked whether we could take our sandwich into the Orléans Room to eat it, since it was open and there were plenty of seats. The gracious staff behind the counter said that wouldn't be a problem at all, and instead of serving our Reuben in a styrofoam box, they would plate it for us and bring it out. Couldn’t ask for them to be more accommodating than that!
So we were able to wait for our Reubens and to enjoy them in the beautiful surroundings of the dining room. The Blackstone Reuben was only served with our choice of bagged potato chips, but it wasn't clear whether that was an artifact or ordering from the Orléans Express, or whether that is also the option on the day that the dining room is open.
After placing our order, the lady at the cash register pointed out that the Reuben sandwich was actually invented at this particular hotel. I mentioned that I knew that, which is why we had traveled from Cincinnati to check it out. I also mentioned that I was curious to try out the recipe, which had been changed from the original. She had no idea that the recipe for their Reuben was any different from the original (for instance, the mustard and Gruyère cheese).
The first thing I noticed about the Blackstone Reuben is that the bread was a very dark rye. The bread was a little crunchy, as though the sandwich had been toasted.
The corned beef used on this sandwich was exquisite—very tender and tasted like it had been sliced off of a large brisket. There was significant fat and marbling still evident throughout the slices.
The sauerkraut was a little on the crunchier side, having a consistency more like slaw, but tasted good.
But what about the so-called “improvements” to the Reuben that they would dare to impose on such hallowed grounds? I was dubious, and somewhat worried about the mustard, in particular, because I really hate mustard. I know that some people add mustard to their Reubens, but those people are considered heretics. Fortunately, the mustard was not distinct or really that distinguishable, aside from probably lending more of a yellowy color to the ingredients of the sandwich. The mustard seemed as though it was likely blended into the Thousand Island dressing, giving the dressing a somewhat sharper and less sweet flavor than in your typical bottled Thousand island varieties.
But what about the Gruyère instead of a more traditional type of Swiss? Gruyère is a smooth-melting type of Swiss cheese; so while in the same family, I really doubt that Schimmel had that variety of Swiss on hand. Was it going to work? Actually it made quite a reasonable substitution. It certainly had much different properties in the sandwich than a more traditional Swiss usually does. The Swiss cheese on a Reuben often disappears amidst the other tastes, in my opinion. However, the Gruyère, since it melts more quickly, was a little more stretchy and gooey and clung on tightly to the slices of corned beef instead of adhering as much to the bread.
Overall, the sandwich had an excellent juiciness, and at 5 cm tall, was noticeably thicker than the average Reuben that seems to always be about 4 cm tall.
I'm still torn about the unorthodox approach to the ingredients on the Blackstone Reuben, especially when it is being served at the birthplace of such an iconic sandwich. But the most important thing is that it really was delicious. I'm sure that the chef here didn't make those changes without weighing whether it would be worth it. I really enjoyed the Blackstone Reuben, and if you can get here when they are actually serving one, I recommend it.
Review - Katherine Rowland
Review Date: Oct 21, 2022, 11:55 AM
Liked: Superior cheese melting
Disliked: Disappointing selection of side item
The cheese on this Reuben had superior melting (thanks Gruyère!), and the mustard was not as noticeable as a distinct element. The bread was well-grilled and not too crunchy. The Reuben as a whole was rich, mellow and satisfying.
The bag of chips as the only available side item was disappointing, especially for the price of the sandwich. The Orléans Room was a lovely space, and we had gracious service.