Review: Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich from Arby’s
Introducing a new cut of meat into your fast food arsenal is territory which shows you’re not just taking the easy way through menu innovations. Too often we get “new” products that offer nothing new. Burger King coming out with a French Fry Burger is a prime example of an easy (lazy) new menu item. If I wear a t-shirt on my head and call it a hat, it’s still a t-shirt. The new Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich from Arby’s doesn’t suffer from a lack of true newness factor so it was on my radar as soon as I heard about it in testing.
Arby’s describes their Smokehouse Brisket like this:
It’s slow smoked for 13 long hours. Which proves we’re pretty passionate about brisket. Arby’s Smokehouse Brisket is piled high with slow-smoked beef brisket, topped with smoked Gouda cheese, crispy onions, BBQ sauce and mayo, and served on a toasted, bakery-style bun.
Arby’s has had a pretty solid year for offering truly new menu items. The King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef & Swiss introduced sweet King’s Hawaiian bread into the picture and that was an awesome addition. While a little on the polarizing side, Arby’s House Made Chips was another addition that actually showed an effort was being made to expand the menu with something brand new and not just a rehash. The Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich shows an effort to expand the menu with more focus on quality and it comes with a premium price of $5.29.
So what is brisket? Per Wiki, “Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the nine beef prime cuts. The brisket muscles include the superficial and deep pectorals. As cattle do not have collar bones, these muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing/moving cattle. This requires a significant amount of connective tissue, so the resulting meat must be cooked correctly to tenderize the connective tissue.” Let’s take a look at a cow diagram and get familiar:
Cow lesson over. Now that we know a little more about beef brisket, let’s break down the sandwich. I’ve never been too crazy about Arby’s roast beef, so it was nice to see a brand new cut of meat entering into the fray. The beef brisket is stacked generously and makes for a filling sandwich if you choose to skip the combo upgrade. The “slow smoked for 13 long hours” process is necessary to get the meat into the proper tenderness to enjoy it in a sandwich like this. Tenderness achievement unlocked! Every one of my bites met a nice tender morsel that didn’t require excessive chewing. There was a more natural beefy quality to the brisket and that’s a rarity for fast food chains.
The Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich doesn’t skimp in many areas. The BBQ sauce lacks any hints of peppery heat and shines mostly with sweetness and some smoke. It’s a thick sauce that coats the brisket and other key ingredients well and there’s just enough of it. The mayo seemed to be unnecessary to me, but thankfully there wasn’t much of it to get in the way of anything else. I guess to go along with “Smokehouse” name you’ve got to have some smoked Gouda in the mix. The smoked Gouda cheese was an interesting choice by Arby’s. It’s not often that smoked Gouda gets called in to the fast food grub game and I liked the addition. Applied in a rounded slice, the smoked Gouda is mild, smooth and stays put without much of any melt. The lack of melted cheese helped the cheese get noticed a lot more texture-wise and it seemed to be a good fit. Way too often we’re treated to more of the same with fast food cheese. American cheese, cheddar and Swiss get to sit this one out.
The crispy onions unfortunately suffered the same fate as they did with Arby’s Onion Mighty Minis. The crispy onions lose their crispy texture by being applied in contact with the areas of the sandwich that contain the most moisture and heat. Flavors from the onion work with the rest of the sandwich, but I really wanted to get some crunch too. The lack of crispy onion crunch was a con with the sandwich. The toasted, bakery-style bun is sized right and contained the sandwich as a hand held and didn’t fall apart on me when I went in for the half-slice cut for my pictures.
I substituted in Steakhouse Onion Rings over my fries, but that still didn’t help relieve the void left in the “crispy” onion department of my sandwich. I’d love to see the Arby’s Onion Petals make a return to the menu and make it all right again. The Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich still succeeds in most all areas for me as it gave me a solid beefy barbecue sandwich from the ease and comfort of a drive-thru window. Normally I have more interest with whatever is surrounding the main ingredient of sandwiches these days and Arby’s did a good job at highlighting something worthy of the spotlight. There’s a true newness factor with the Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich and it worked.
Pros: New cut of meat and plenty of it. Packed with smoky BBQ flavor. Great bun. Smoked Gouda.
Cons: Over 5 bucks for the sandwich alone. Crispy fried onions get weighed down by the rest of the ingredients and lose their crunch. Mayo didn't need to be involved.
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 7.75/10
More Info: http://www.arbys.com
Total Fat - 35 grams
Saturated Fat - 12 grams
Sodium - 1230 milligrams
Cholesterol - 110 milligrams
Carbs - 42 grams
Dietary Fiber - 3 grams
Sugars - 7 grams
Protein - 35 grams