Fast Food Review: Roast Beef ‘n Cheddar Melt from Arby’s
I’ve been going to Arby’s a lot recently, I know. Trust me, there are reasons for this, and they don’t exactly involve the constant stares I get from the old folks there who are probably thinking “who the heck is this young whipper snapper taking pictures of the food. Back in my day, we just ate the dang sammich” It also has nothing to do with my affinity for hearing said old folks complain about the “tough” onion rings. As a matter of fact, I’ve been checking in at Arby’s 2-3 times a week mostly because they have a new Three Cheese and Angus Sub slated to come out later this month, and I’ve been trying to get the dope on when it will come out (I’ve heard Feb. 21, so stay tuned).
I’ve also been visiting Arby’s because they have the most flavors on their drink machine. This comes in handy on afternoons in which I’m required to mine large sections of Cicero or Plutarch for school. That’s right, thanks to Arby’s, I now instantly associate classical Roman texts with having to run to the bathroom. Thankfully for my wallet, my stomach, and yes, my bladder, sucking down all that Diet Dr. Pepper does have its rewards. I am, of course, talking about the lovely survey on Arby’s receipts. If you fill them out, you get a code for a free Roast Beef Sandwich or Roast Beef and Cheddar melt . At $3.29 for the Beef n’ Cheddar (not and, mind you), that’s a whole lot of savings when you think about it. Which is why I’m wondering why it ever took me so long to give the longtime Arby’s staple a try.
The Beef ‘n Cheddar features Arby’s oven roasted roast beef, “piled high” on an onion bun and smothered in a “creamy cheddar cheese sauce.”It also comes with one of Arby’s lesser known sauces, the Red Ranch Sauce, which adorns the bottom of the toasted bun.
Overall, this is a pretty decent sized sandwich. According to the website, you’re getting about 3.35 oz. of roast beef, and from the looks of my sandwich, that seemed to be about right. They don’t skimp on the cheese sauce either, but do a good job of keeping it under control and under the bun. The bun itself is toasted, and the onion pieces on top have a slightly charred look. It’s moist and a bit soggy though, probably due to the moisture and heat of the ingredients. I give Arby’s credit here. This thing isn’t sitting on a heat lamp all afternoon – it’s made to order, and it’s still steaming when I open up the wrapper.
The first bite is almost completely dominated by the cheese sauce. A complex, aged cheddar this is not. I’m expecting super salty processed goo, but it’s not terribly salty, and while it has a funky viscosity, it’s got a cheap and appealing quality about it. I’d describe the flavor as slightly meaty and musky, but I can’t put my finger on it exactly. I just know that it’s made with canola oil, which means it’s not nearly as bad for me as the stuff most places put in their fake cheese sauce. Either way, it blends in with the roast beef, which is surprisingly moist and beefy. Salty, yes, but it’s also beefy, and doesn’t come off as overly processed even though it’s far from the stuff you’d want to buy in the deli section of your grocery store.
I thought this would have been just an average sandwich had it not been for the Red Ranch Sauce and the bun, which save the otherwise bland and savory beef and cheese flavor. The Red Ranch Sauce has a glaze like texture that looks sorta like McDonald’s Chipotle BBQ Sauce, and like McDonald’s sauce the predominant flavor is sweet. But unlike McDonald’s sauce, there a real tang to this sauce, which balances the meaty and salty nature of the beef and cheese sauce. There’s also a bit of a cayenne flavor, but it’s muted. The bun, while failing to provide much texture, is just what you want. It’s moist and super-chewy, and it has that malted sweetness which make biting through the whole sandwich a multi-level flavor experience. The toasted onions certainly don’t hurt.
Arby’s Beef and Cheddar isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it’s a good alternative to a typical fast food cheeseburger and a tasty upgrade to Arby’s regular roast beef sandwich. I do think the addition of Arby’s BBQ sauce would make the sandwich stronger, and would work well to foil the overpowering flavors of the meat and cheese sauce. I also wonder if any kind of veggies (onions, pickles?) would give a needed acidity. Nutritionally, it actually beats a lot of cheeseburgers, and it’s definitely filling (if you’re wondering, the 0.5 g of trans fat are naturally occurring.) At $3.39 for just the sandwich, it’s a fair value, but considering you can get it free for just taking a survey, I’ll definitely be redeeming future Arby’s coupons for this. Take that Cicero!
Pros: A different take and a nice change-up from regular fast food cheeseburgers. Cheese sauce has oddly addicting quality about it. Roast beef is moist and has good flavor. Red Ranch Sauce is tangy and sweet, while onion bun is a nice change of pace from standard sesame seed.
Cons: Messy once you start eating it. Beef and cheese sauce dominate, and can feel a little heavy. Needs elements of sweetness and acidity. Involves reading Cicero. Old people staring at me.
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.75/10
Overall GrubGrade: 7.25 (Decent)
More Info: Arbys.com
Regular Roast Beef 'n Cheddar from Arby's
Total Fat: 18 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Trans Fat: 0.5 g
Cholesterol: 50 mg
Sodium: 1260 mg
Carbs: 43 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 10 g
Protein: 23 g