First and by far the most important – Thanks to everyone who has made suggestions on The Perfect Reuben. It is appreciated.
Second. We are now getting variation in the Reuben sandwich. Call it local style, mutant, or Reuben variation. Call it what ever you wish. Just know it is not a Traditional Reuben. So, with that in mind, I really must add another category to the search for The Perfect Reuben. And arbitrarily I will call this category “Non-Traditional Reuben”. (That’s inventive!) On 19 March, we visited Rick’s Press Club in Meridian. Be sure to look at the article “History of the Reuben Sandwich” which I posted on 19 March. With that in mind, here’s how the Traditional Reuben is prepared:

1. Reuben Sandwich – Corned Beef, grilled
2. Rachel Sandwich – Pastrami, grilled
3. Both have:
a. Toasted or grilled Jewish Rye
b. Grilled Sauerkraut or some type of cabbage
c. Meat – See above
d. Russian Dressing
e. Swiss Cheese
4. The plate should have a Jewish deli kosher pickle as garnish

Anything else on the sandwich would place it in the Non-Traditional Category. With that in mind ………..

The Reuben Sandwich Challenge Scoring

Rated on 1 to 5-Stars, here is how we rate the several places in Boise that serve a Reuben Sandwich. 1-Star is enough for this year and a 5-Star is one that meets the criteria.

1. Barbaccoa – Big thick slabs of meat, no rye toast, they used bread, and soggy from an over abundance of kraut. No grilled onion. Rating: 1-Star

2. Donny Mac’s – Rye toast was weak on the rye, heavy on the 1000 Island dressing. Sloppy to eat because of the really wet kraut. The pastrami was good. Raw onions. Rating: 2-Stars

3. Cucina di Paolo – Yea! Russian Dressing. Good pastrami and not overly salty. Great kraut. Did not notice any grilled onion. Good rye toast, although it was Marble Rye. I would prefer a straight Jewish Rye, Deli Rye. I always like a good Jewish Kosher pickle with my Reuben. None of these places had that. Rating: 4-Stars

4. Seasons Bistro – Wow!! We’ve got a foot race. Homemade Russian Dressing, as was Cucina di Paolo. Good pastrami as was Cucina di Paolo. Great kraut that is special ordered and, in my opinion, better than Cucina di Paolo. Good rye, that I actually tasted the caraway seed, although it was the Marbled Rye!!! I told Rachael Hurn, Owner, that I really would like to give her the 5-Stars for this sandwich, but I couldn’t. She asked, “Why?” And I told her, “No Jewish Kosher deli pickle.” She said she would go get me one. Too late. But, Rachael does know – as did Paul at Cucina di Paolo – the difference between a Reuben and a Rachael Sandwich. She has both on the menu!!! Rating: 4½ – Stars

5. Westside Drive-In – I was disappointed. The pastrami was poorly heated. And the dressing was not Russian. I think it was 1000 with horseradish. The kraut was very good though. He also uses marbled rye. No pickle!!! And I’m really getting tired of the marbled rye. Why not a good deli rye? Sorry Lou.
Rating: 3½ – Stars

6. Willowcreek Grill – Most of their lunches that we’ve had here have been pretty good. Great salads and a good clam chowder. Sorry, but I can not say the same about their Reuben Sandwich. Where’s the pickle?? The taste just was not there. The pastrami was just OK. But the kraut at least perked it somewhat. The rye – mediocre marbled at best. The sauce – OK, but nothing to write home about. The cheese is hard to find. It looks impressive, but the taste is just not there. Sorry.
Rating: 3 – Stars

7. The Plaza Grill at the Owyhee Hotel Yea!!! Look at that green “thing” on the sandwich. A Pickle! Yea! And out of 7 Reuben establishments tried, this is the first pickle! But then, from their menu, “Grilled Reuben on Rye – Grilled on rye with cured lean corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and melted Swiss cheese” $9.95. Did I see Thousand Island dressing? Sure did. Wrong dressing, remember? Should be Russian dressing. Too bad. And, I don’t think that the kraut was grilled long enough, either. It was still pretty runny. Can’t get rid of that Marbled Rye either. There’s got to be a bakery in Boise that makes their own rye bread – Deli Rye bread that tastes like rye or caraway. I was glad to see the pickle – but sad to see the Thousand Island dressing.
Rating: 3½ – Stars

8. Rick’s Press Club – Meridian, ID. Look at that sandwich!! They warn you on the menu that it is big enough for two. It is. It is because of this sandwich that I made the Non-Traditional category. Rye bread grilled just right, as was the corned beef and the kraut. But …. instead of a Russian Dressing, they use mustard. And there was no pickle!! And it went great with fortified barley juice – a beer. But how about the taste? It was very good. Would I order it again, even though it is a Non-Traditional Reuben? Yes indeed. Mac was with us and he agreed with me about the sandwich.
Rating: 4 – Stars

So, for now the picture is:

Traditional Sandwich
the Seasons in Eagle
Cucina di Paolo in Boise

Non-Traditional
Rick’s Press Club in Meridian
Westside Drive-In in Boise
The Plaza Grill at the Owyhee Hotel in Boise.

I would return to any of these establishments that have a 3-Star rating or better. The bar has been set pretty high for these sandwiches. “So”, you ask, “which one is the best?” I’m a traditionalist so my preferences would be in that category. But you be the judge for yourself. I have given you, so far, 5 choices. As Jack Parr used to say, “It’s your nickle.”