Review: Arby’s A.1. Special Reserve Steak Sandwich (New/Limited Time Only)

Both of the Fewd Snobs each had an email waiting for them today.  The subject read, “Mmm steak…”  It was from Arby’s.

Spam is annoying (the email kind, not regular SPAM.  Then again, SPAM is even more annoying!), but when you are notified of a new Arby’s sandwich with spam, suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad.

The email tells a little about the new sandwich.  The link to click on took us to the Arby’s website with even more details.

Then, we received an ad in the mail today:

IMG_20151029_143656772The sandwich is new, and it is only around for a limited time.  It features Angus steak, A.1. Special Reserve Sauce, natural cheddar cheese (as opposed to the unnatural version), and an onion ring.  Yes, people…this is a steak sandwich; it is NOT a roast beef sandwich.  The concept of steak as opposed to roast beef is one that got Herman talking for about 10 minutes to Denny about Angus cuts, steak cuts, how roast beef is similar, how he wondered what exact cut this meat was, and so on.  Herman found a video from Arby’s explaining that the steak on this sandwich is USDA Choice top round Black Angus.

Denny’s Thoughts:  At this point, I was getting sick of Herman’s rambling.  It’s Arby’s for crying out loud.  Whatever!  The steak seems different to me than regular roast beef.  He was annoyingly hell-bent on finding out what kind of steak this is, or if it is even steak at all.  He THEN tells me that he doesn’t really consider top round to be steak!  If you ask me, Herman is forgetting that Fewd Snobs is supposed to be ironic; I think he is acting like an actual snob…

Herman’s Thoughts:  OK. Since Denny stopped listening anyway, I’ll try to explain myself. My point about Angus is that you see it everywhere now and it is just another buzz word. The true meaning behind Angus refers to a higher quality of beef that is actually certified and must meet strict standards. This ultimately results in a better tasting product. This is relevant when you are dealing with steak but I really don’t think we need Angus beef when it comes to hot dogs and shitty fast food burgers. So, I really just wanted to take a second and give kudos to Arby’s for actually referring to Angus steak. As in an actual cut of steak. Not mashed up, formed and pressed, squeezed through a tube, freeze dried meat, with a stupid Angus label. What’s next? Black Angus Cotto Salami??!? Rant over…

Now, on to the A.1…

Arby’s refers to the sauce as A.1. Special Reserve.  On another part of the site, it refers to the sauce as “Smoky Black Pepper Sauce.”  So which is it?  We did a quick search for A.1. Special Reserve.  We can’t find anything about it that isn’t related to this Arby’s sandwich.  Evidently, Kraft Foods doesn’t sell this sauce separately.  The ad above seems to explain what is going on by saying that A.1. reserved a sauce just for the sandwich.  Yet, no other Arby’s literature that we could find explains it.  This is getting too confusing for the Fewd Snobs…

But, OK.  We’ll play along.

But before we do, we have to tell you that our expectations weren’t high here, people.  We think that the word “Angus” is overused.  We also think it is mainly a gimmick.  For beef to be good today, it simply MUST be Angus, you see?!  Whatever.  Plus, as much as we like A.1. sauce, we think it is getting overused, too.  Suddenly, EVERYBODY has Angus and A.1.  This isn’t original, people.  In fact, we kind of wondered what the hell Arby’s is bothering for with this sandwich.

That said, we did what any self-respecting Fewd Snob would do; we went to Arby’s.

You will notice in our feature image that the sandwich comes in a box.  Nice.  This way it doesn’t get smashed by the dim fast food workers (sorry, people!)  We opened the box…

IMG_20151029_134138332Form your own opinion, but that steak peaking at us didn’t look very appealing.

IMG_20151029_134155837It didn’t look too hot out of the box either.  But then we realized that the cheese is just melted all over the steak.  Interesting color that creates.

IMG_20151029_134233804You get a pretty good idea of what we are dealing with in the pic above.  There’s steak.  There’s an onion ring.  There is plenty of A.1.

IMG_20151029_134242906Herman is getting good with his photography skills!

IMG_20151029_134323689At first, we didn’t think it looked like there was much steak on this sandwich.  After we cut it in half though, we changed our minds (do they work better now??).

IMG_20151029_134336650Now that we have taken a good look, on to the verdict…

Again, we didn’t expect much.  Much to our surprise, we really liked it!

Unlike many A.1. sandwiches that are out there, there is actually enough A.1. on the sandwich to taste it!  What a concept!  It was pretty evenly distributed, too.  It definitely tasted different than regular A.1.  We tasted pepper.  It almost has a little heat to it that builds as you eat the sandwich.  Good stuff.

The onion ring had a nice flavor.  You would think that one friggin’ onion ring would be kind of meh, but it wasn’t the case.  We got onion ring with every bite.  It had a nice crunch.  The flavor was there, but did not overpower the sandwich.  That is a good thing.  Good stuff again.

The bread was excellent.  It had a good, fresh bread consistency.  It isn’t too crusty, but it isn’t too soft either.  Often, fast food bread sucks.  That is not the case here.  Good stuff for the third time.

Now, on to the steak.  This is the real point, right?  There ended up being plenty of steak for the sandwich size.  There were about 7 layers of steak.  Think about the Halloween Whopper that we reviewed.  It barely had any meat on it.  This sandwich has plenty.

Arby’s uses some kind of rub, and it adds to the overall flavor.  The meat was juicy, too.  It just has a generally good taste.  It wasn’t gristly.  This is good quality meat.  It was cooked, we think, a little more well done than the medium-rare that Arby’s indicates it is on the Arby’s website.  Whatever.  We aren’t bitching.

Finally, the one thing that the sandwich has that doesn’t matter is the cheese.  Yes, it is melted all over the steak.  That said, the flavor is so mild that it is barely noticeable.  It really doesn’t need to be there.  But is that bad?  You decide.  We don’t think so.  Sure, throw the cheese on there.  Or don’t.  Whatever.

Overall, the entire sandwich is good.  The flavors work together.  They do not fight each other.  We liked the sandwich.  That’s all we can really say.

In terms of value, this sandwich clocks in at $5.29 for just the sandwich before tax.  It isn’t cheap.  On the other hand, nothing at Arby’s is.  But think about this…that horrid Whopper we mentioned was $4.99!!  There is practically NO MEAT on that Whopper!  The meat that is there is terrible.  This is at least some kind of steak!  The bottom line is that the sandwich isn’t cheap, but it isn’t a dollar menu sandwich either.  It is comparable to other premium sandwiches at other places.  Fast food is simply too expensive nowadays.  But this sandwich is at least on par.

Arby’s has won us over yet again.  This is a higher quality sandwich than most fast food today.  We like it.  You probably will too, Snobs.

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