Posts Tagged ‘Roast Beef’
There’s the undisputed champion of fast food “roast beef” places, Arbys, which has more than 3300 units. There have been some ‘also rans’along the way, the Roy Rogers chain (once over 300 units) tried to be a national contender. Hardees, with over 3000 units, has always featured a similar product on their menu systemwide after acquiring both the Roy Rogers and Rax Roast Beef chains.
And there have been local/regional chains as well, which have somehow managed to survive, despite being outspent in marketing and dwarfed in the number of locations.
I recall visiting a Lion’s Choice, in St. Louis, (25 outlets), and this gem I visited to day, “Beef-A- Roo” in Rockford, IL. “BAR” has 7 locations and has been around since 1967, and while their initial focus was on roast beef, they now have a full menu, offering burgers, dogs, salads, wraps, soups and other sandwiches.
Like Arby’s “roast beef,” the meat at Beef-A-Roo appears to come from an emulsification process, that is, beef, a solution, seasonings, perhaps other ingredients are made into a slurry, packed into a mold, and pre-cooked. The meat has the same texture and color as Arbys, and or course, neither resemble pure “muscle meat” as one would find at a quality deli or prepare at home.
Regardless, it remains popular, and even tho Arbys has a good presence in Rockford, locals love their Beef-A-Roo, and I have to say my perception
of the roast beef sandwich was despite the similarity, I prefered this. To me, it was more flavorful than the competitions, and as I am a nut for any kind of bread, I have to mention that hands-down, Beef-A-Roo may well have one of the best buns in the industry. It’s terrific, soft yet firm, a slight buttery taste, and toasted.
I also tried the olive burger, a popular item in the Chicago area (i have reviewed others), tho different variations can be found. BAR’s closely resembles that one you will find on
most menus, with sliced green olives and melted white cheese. They added a sauce, and I really couldn’t tell what it was, resembling a mayo, and it’s not named on their website menu. The burger patty has come from the type of automation that makes it appear as if it was hand-formed (meaning not a perfectly round, “hockey puck” type patty like most fast foods) and like the roast beef, it was more flavorful than most of its competitors.
Read a bunch of BAR’s reviews and you’ll see people crow about the fries, and they are good, as good, or better, as the golden arches, which many people hold as the fast food gold standard. They are thin and crispy shoestrings, nicely salted, piping hot.
Other people think BAR is spendy, but I disagreed, came away with two large sandwiches, fries and a drink for under $10.
I wish they’d expand, at least regionally. In the meantime, you’ll have to go to Rockford, IL and try their food at one of seven locations.
I have seen the same name on other restaurants in the Midwest, no idea whether they were once affiliated, are franchises or operated by other members of the founding family.
I mostly prefer to make my own “lunch meats.” By that, I’m generally referring to cooking a beef roast, ham, or corned beef round and putting it through the slicer. When confronted with the selections at a service deli counter, I’m apt to opt for imported products, and of course I like the variety of selections.
But I’m leery of deli counter meats that I feel fall into the category of “pressed chopped and formed”, bits of meat bound together into a ‘roast’ or loaf’ producing identically shaped pieces with an identical look. Pre-package that in sealed cello, and I’m even more nervous, especially when faced with the phrase “contains xx% solution of…”.
There are actually three types of deli meats or processes that result in the meat you will find in your deli counter or packaged meat section: 1) whole cuts of meat, like a beef loin, ham or turkey breast, seasoned, cooked and ready to slice; 2) the heretofore mentioned sectioned and formed meat products, prepared from chunks or pieces of meat and are bonded together with non-meat additives to form a single piece; and 3) processed meats, like sausages and various types of lunch meats and loaves, beef, pork, or combinations, chopped, seasoned, made into an emulsification or slurry, and put into casings, natural or artificial, and generally smoked, and then sliced in chubs or individual piece packages.
If I’m in a rush, or I arrive at the store after the closing of the service deli, I’m faced with choosing from the pre-packaged meats, as happened last night. Dietz & Watson is a family owned, 75 year old enterprise based in Philadelphia that manufactures and distributes several hundred types of deli meat and cheeses nationwide. I’m a fan of their natural casing frankfurters, but I’m not sure I have ever had their prepared, packaged cold cuts. Last nite, I picked up a package of their “Premium Homestyle Roast Beef”, at $4.99 for 7 ounces. The subheading states “coated with seasonings, caramel color. Other labeling states it contains sea salt, is gluten free, and has no msg added. Ingredients list includes beef, water, and “less than 1.5%” of a whole host of the usual suspects, various types of sodium, , beef stock, onion and garlic powder, spices and lemon oil.”
No carbs, of course, low fat, but sodium content (12% for two ounces) is kinda high, if you’re watching that kind of thing. Further information from the label shows this product is made at USDA plant # 9574, which is one of Dietz & Watson’s facilities in Philadelphia.
So how is it? Fine, I guess. The package says “Tenderness Guaranteed”, and there’s no arguing that. Whatever process is used, as with any pre-packaged meats (in my opinion) takes all the ‘muscle’ texture out of the protein. As for taste, it’s probably just me, but it’s gotten so with this type of product, I can’t tell the difference between roast beef, corned beef, or ham, if it weren’t for the color and whatever seasoning is added.
So in conclusion, it’s fine for what it is, but a little pricey, not particularly a good value. Would I buy it again? Under similar circumstances, yes. Although it’s not a fair comparison, the other day I reviewed Mike Ditka’s Italian Beef, which is a much more “real’ sliced beef product.
If you’re curious about how some other types of deli meats are made, I found this video on YouTube, which happens to feature Dietz & Watson products. Below it is a pic of the discussed product, removed from the package.
dietz & watson roast beef