Thursday, December 1, 2011

Salty Reuben at the St. Regis Bar and Grill

St. Regis Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon
I dropped by for a late lunch at the St. Regis Bar and Grill this afternoon, around 2pm. I ordered the Regis Reuben - $13 - Locally sourced "J. Beethoven's" New York style corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and 1000 Islands dressing served on toasted marble rye with dill pickle spears.

It comes with choice of soup, salad, or fries. I went with the soup, which is selected from whatever "soup of the day" is on that day. Today I skipped the spinach something or other soup and went for what I hoped was a lighter "spicy beef pepper pot". The soup turned out to be a waste of time. Tasteless meat in boring spicy broth that was on the salty side.
On the plus side, however, you got a lot of meat in the soup, enough to make it look more like a stew. The soup alone could have counted as half a lunch. Add the two halves of the sandwich and you have lunch and a half. By 6pm I was still feeling slightly stuffed, truth be told.
You're paying over $10 per entree, but any of the burgers will probably see you overfed and ready for an afternoon nap, especially if you drowned it down with the soup or ordered the fries. And definitely so if you further compounded this by ordering, say, a tall, cold, beer.
I ended my lunch with a peppermint tea (For 2.75 you get a weak Lipton tea), but I also had about an hour to kill in the slower 2pm-4pm after-lunch before-dinner dead time at the pub, during which I paged through the WestEnder and the Georgia Straight.

Anyway, on to the Reuben!
If you're used to corned beef being the mashed-up canned stuff, or what is actually corned beef hash, then you're in for a surprise with the Regis Reugen. Corned beef basically looks like very thin cuts of cured beef (thin cuts if they've "shaved" it right), as that helps tackle the toughness of the meat. There are various styles of preparing corned beef, and New York Style Corned Beef is just one. There's a nice article here that explains corned beef versus smoked beef, and talks about the J. Beethoven's New York Style Corned Beef mentioned in the menu.

As for the Regis Reuben, it's not far off from your basic Reuben sandwich. The minuses here are that there isn't as much meat and the meat wasn't sliced as thinly as I thought it could have to offset the generally tougher meat from which corned beef is made. The sauerkraut was concentrated in the middle and not held so well with the cheese, so that on one half of the sandwich it came spilling out and there was a bit of a mess. The sauerkraut was the dominant flavour and masked the cheese and dressing. The marbled rye was a nice touch visually, however, and I give a point for that.
The "dill pickle spears" was just one half of a long dill pickle this time. Considering the already salty sandwich, it was overkill and not necessary. What I really could have used was water (which wasn't automatically brought to my table nor anywhere throughout the meal), although with the soup, that would have really bloated me right up.

Overall, I think the salty Reuben is on the side of "acquired taste" even though it's not particularly exotic. Be careful with ordering this one, as you could end up with a lot of sandwich you don't want. If you are a fan of Reubens, this one doesn't have American portions of meat and therefore the proportion of sauerkraut to meat is higher -- and the relentless saltiness can turn you off. Ask for water even if you're getting soup.

Something that worsened my experience of the Reuben was the soup I had chosen. The soup was also quite salty, which made the entire meal salty salty salty. Urgh. Since I chose the soup from the two choices, I can't blame the St. Regis for this unfortunate combo.

Bill (Reuben plus tea), with tax and tip came to $20.

Service is casual and adequate. A nice touch is that at least one staff person will make sure they catch you as you're leaving to give you some sort of friendly farewell.
Music is quite loud in the pub, so sit further from the bar if you're looking for a place to chat with friends.

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