Fast Food Review: Arby Q from Arby’s
Apparently, Arby’s has been having some business difficulty as of late. Well, I have a simple solution for them: just bring back Arby-Q on a nationwide basis, and do it fast.
I’ve long heard stories about Arby-Q, yet had never tried it before last week. I stop at four or five Arby’s regularly between two states (Maryland and Utah) and have never seen it before, but when I found it at one of Arby’s new, cleanly polished locations in Providence, Utah, I knew it would be worth $1.49 (without tax) to check out. For those of you unfamiliar with the Arby-Q sandwich, the limited time/regional menu item features Arby’s signature roast beef with “tangy barbecue sauce” on a toasted, sesame seed bun. According to my lovely and helpful Arby’s gal who took my order, the sandwich comes with “about two ounces” of roast beef – not quite the three ounces as the regular roast beef sandwich, but still a “standard” serving size for a sandwich on comparable value.
With that kind of meat to bun ratio (it comes on one of Arby’s standard sesame seed buns, not the “Jr.” nonsense) you’d think that the meat gets lost. To a certain extent it does, but the deficiency is made up through a solid application of barbecue sauce as well as a pleasant and chewy sweetness of the bun, which has a perfectly toasted interior. Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to think Arby’s buns are some of the best out there. Mine wasn’t stale in the least, and the sesame seeds add a great touch. As for the roast beef? It’s standard for Arby’s, meaning that it’s good but not great. Obviously it’s not anything like my beloved beef on weck, but with Arby’s signature barbecue sauce, it doesn’t need to be. Combined with the sauce, it’s moist and succulent and yes, definitely on the super-sweet side. But when it comes to barbecue and beef, sweet works best, and the sauce really does add a tangy component to the meat, which is well seasoned. It also adds a nice foil to the otherwise usual saltiness of the meat.
I like the minimalist application of the sandwich. It’s obviously not slow-simmered or smoked like a “real” barbecue beef sandwich is, but it avoids the excessive heavy taste that a slow simmered sandwich sometimes have, not to mention that it’s much cheaper and relatively mess free. I’ve heard that they used to sell them at 99 cents each, but I really have no problem paying a little “extra” for a value menu item like this. My only issue with the price is whether or not I’m getting something that I couldn’t make for less. That is, could I just have bought a Jr. Roast Beef Sandwich and thrown some Arby’s Sauce on it and gotten the same results? My impression is yes, but I hope I’m wrong. Either way, it confirms what I’ve long claimed: Arby’s has something good going when it comes to innovative value menu items. From the Jr. Ham and Cheddar Melt to the Curly Fries to the new Turkey Ranch sandwich, Arby’s can offer tasty items no other fast food chain can match at a very good and consistent price. Why the chain has had some serious misses with more expensive menu items is beyond me, but take my word for it that the Arby-Q, if you can find it, is one of the better fast food value menu items out there.
Pros: Sweet and tangy barbecue sauce takes Arby's roast beef to another level. Bun is well toasted on the interior, slightly sweet and slightly nutty. BBQ sauce was adequately applied, and made eating non-messy. A acceptable beef barbecue "substitute" given the price.
Cons: Too much bun for meat (I recommend 'doubling' your meat). Roast beef is average, and displays some fatty, processed type strands. Could possibly benefit from onions. Very limited availability.
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 7.75 (Good)
Arby Q Sandwich (currently unavailable)