* To avoid apples-and-oranges comparisons, for purposes of this thread let’s agree that a Reuben is made with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on either rye or pumpernickel, with thousand-island or mustard on the side. I know many would disagree, but imho a pastrami sandwich with the same toppings is meant to be called a Rachel sandwich. And I’ve had very good Rachels and similar variations made with turkey/turkey pastrami, but they aren’t Reubens as far as I’m concerned. If you disagree, start your own thread ;P.
I have a soft spot for old-school dining haunts along the lines of Musso and Frank and the Ranch House in Ojai, but not to the extent that I forgive bad service and/or mediocre food. Which is why I’ve been avoiding the Smoke House in Toluca Lake for a few years — my recent experiences there were less than favorable on either point.
So when the Smoke House was suggested last night for dinner, I decided it was time to give the place another chance. Given my most recent exposures to their cuisine, I can’t really explain why I chose to order a Reuben, since a badly made Reuben is a ghastly thing.
Well, whaddya know. I can now say that the Smoke House makes the best Reuben sandwich I’ve ever had in L. A.
What struck me on the first bite was the perfect balance of ingredients, and that it was perfectly and evenly cooked.. Even with good ingredients, it’s impossible to make a good Reuben if you overstuff the meat. You end up with cold corned beef, hot sauerkraut, hard cheese and burned bread. Can you say Jerry’s Famous?
The Thousand Island should always be on the side. Fries can be a bit heavy as a side order; I was okay with the Smoke House’s housemade chips but I might have preferred coleslaw even at the risk of cabbage saturation.
I’ve read about the Rachels at Brent’s (yes, I *know*, they call them “pastrami Reubens” … sigh), but I don’t know if they make them with corned beef. I will make every effort to try a Reuben the next time I’m at Langer’s, but it’s hard when that pastrami starts singing to me before I’ve gotten off the Red Line.
So, there it is. What’s you’re idea of a perfect Reuben sandwich in L. A., and what in your experience is the worst version you can bear to think of?
Smoke House Restaurant
4420 W Lakeside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505