Reuben sandwiches wear many hats. Deciding which one you want yours to wear is a simple matter of taste. For instance, we prefer pastrami on our Reubens for the addition of some light seasoning.
But the type of meat you choose really won’t change the sandwich’s taste; both corned beef and pastrami come from the same cut of brisket. However, pastrami is smoked after it’s cured (usually with a dry rub), while corned beef is not.
With that, we wanted to know whose Reuben we’d like best: The Collins Pub’s or Three Girls Bakery’s?
The rivals: The Collins Pub, 526 Second Ave., 623-1016.
The pastrami was perfectly cooked: tender, not stringy, with a nice consistency. There was just the right amount of sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing to cut the tang of the Swiss cheese-and-kraut combo. Plus, the pastrami appeared pregrilled, with a crisp bacon-like char around the edges. And at $12, this sandwich came with a side of fries. Our only complaint: The rye bread was doused with a little too much butter before it hit the grill, creating some unnecessary greasiness.
Three Girls Bakery, 1514 Pike Place, Stall #1, 622-1045.
Our excitement was cut short once we took a seat at the counter and watched our server nuke the sauerkraut and cheese (both Swiss and cheddar). Not only was this visually unappealing, but the microwave caused the textures to blend together. The kraut/cheese concoction was thrown atop a generous helping of pastrami on light rye, buttered slightly, and put under a sandwich press.
The toasted Reuben was not as tangy as The Collins’, but tender and juicy nonetheless. And like The Collins’ Reuben, it was assembled with just the right amount of pastrami. We also ordered the corned-beef Reuben on dark rye for comparison’s sake. It wasn’t as good. The dill seeds embedded in the light rye made for a more flavorful sandwich, and honestly, we couldn’t tell the corned beef from the pastrami. This Reuben doesn’t come with a side of anything, but at $7.50 it’s still a good value.
The winner: Both sandwiches came with delicate folds of thinly sliced pastrami, which made them easy to eat and flavorful—possibly the two most important components of any sandwich. But when it comes down to it, the Reuben at The Collins Pub is the sandwich we still crave.
While the Reuben at Three Girls was good and by far the better value, the cheddar cheese was just too much to deal with; it oozed out of the bread like an artificial cheese sauce. And the pastrami was not pregrilled, which made it kind of bland. It goes without saying, but the sauerkraut shouldn’t have been microwaved; ultimately, there were no layers of flavor, as there are in The Collins Pub’s Reuben.
When you bite into The Collins’ Reuben, you taste grilled pastrami, thousand island, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. When you take a bite of the Three Girls’ Reuben, you taste meat and cheese, as if they’re a bundled item, relying on each other to support a flavor profile without any nuances. We’ll pay the extra $3.50 to eat The Collins’ Reuben again.