It’s been so long since the wintery reuben was seasonally acceptable that my insatiable cravings have started to take their longing out on my subconscious. In recent weeks my dreams have sharpened with vivid images of pickle jars and earthen brown sandwiches wrapped in deli paper, and every morning I wake up disappointed not to be seated in a deli booth.
If Freud’s theory is to be believed then every dream is a wish, and for once I think he’s probably right.
But I didn’t slake the drought with any old slaptogether, a reuben is a holy press and when it turns up you better be prepared to throw down. Its basic composition requires five elements: pastrami, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, cheese, and rye. You may well come across some extra pickles or some liberties with the sauce, and that’s fair game as far as I’m concerned. The important thing is that I saw God, and I saw her 11 times. Here are 11 of Brisbane's best reuben sandwiches.
We lost our lids when Maker started doing snacks because it meant we could start outsourcing our midnight snacks. Their Reuben toastie may not be any sauerkraut, and they’ve got mustard in lieu of Russian dressing, but I’m going to let it slide because (1) the pastrami, Gruyere and pickles are all present, (2) you can order this bad boy until very late at night, and (3) Maker has earned our trust.
Since opening last year, Melt Brothers have pretty much lead Brisbane’s vanguard in the way of sandwich melteries. The ‘New Yorker’ toastie is their take on a Reuben and pretty much covers all the bases but lingers on one in particular: dat cheese. To go with the pastrami, pickles and sauerkraut, Melt Brothers chuck in American cheese AND cheddar for that gooey splooginess.
Always keen to show off their meaty prowess, Pourboy’s Reuben is a ruddy mess of corned wagyu silverside, melty Gruyere, and a tangle of that translucent sauerkraut to zing off the Russian dressing and hearty rye. Topped off with little pickle medallions this toasty chunk’s place in our hearts and tummies is well-earned.
Dovetail on Overend
Our gluten-intolerant pals, this one’s for you. Legend of Dovetail on Overend’s reuben has flown far and wide since its conception. The stack of pastrami, gooey Gruyere, sauerkraut and the housemade Russian dressing is already tantalising, but Dovetail squishes that down on their own gluten free caraway bread and the flavour gets maxed. Also available on Uncle Bob’s rye bread for gluten fans.
Kin + Co
Anyone not quite convinced that a sandwich could constitute a proper meal needs to go to Kin + Co and get the knowledge. Their Reuben follows suit for the most part until we get to the protein. Foregoing the cured meat in favour of a succulent slow-roasted brisket, and drizzled with Carolina sauce, this is about as close to a burger as a sandwich gets. It even comes with a side dish of apple slaw to round out that balanced diet you’re on.
The Defiant Duck
The Defiant Duck’s Reuben might look a bit out of place in the burger section but before you pipe up with shouts of ‘she doesn’t even go here’ just slow your goddamn roll. The jazzy combination of Wagyu silverside, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese on midnight rye holds its own against the double bacon cheese letmetellya.
No one purporting to love both jaffles and Reubens (the twin pillars upon which enlightenment rests) can turn down what Project 41 is serving up. The Reuben jaffle is a veritable symphony of the basic Reuben elements snug within a crunchy, gooey parcel. But if an old school sandwich is what you’re after, Project 41 also offers their iteration of a pastrami on rye using instead slow cooked smoked beef with Swiss cheese, pickles and slaw, which we’re lumping in with the greater Reubenscape because why not.
As an American-style eatery, 5 Boroughs would be remiss if they skimped on anything, especially when it comes to such hallowed turf as this all-American sanga. Their Reuben contains a heft of corned beef, kraut and all the usual suspects betwixt the darkest, heartiest rye you could ever have the pleasure of noshing.
I’m not saying that Reubens aren’t perfect just the way they are, but if there was one thing the classic formula was missing it’s probably some heat. Folks sometimes add a schmear of mustard but that’s about as far as the idea goes. Not at Shady Palms. Their Reuben is carved up into soldiers and draped in the lovin’ magic of pickled zucchini, sauerkraut, jalapeños, honey mustard and horseradish mayo.
Florence Street Coffee
They built their promise on coffee and high fives but if their menu is anything go by, Florence Street Coffee’s secondary pledge is to do nothing by halves. Case in point, their team-effort Reuben made with house-poached spiced brisket, housemade sauerkraut, pickles, and Maasdam cheese on a light beer rye from Danny’s Bread in collab with Green Beacon.
We’ve seen amazing ryes, sauces from scratch, inventive use of cheese, and fun things with meat but Tippler’s Tap has taken it upon themselves to rep it for the kraut. Theirs is possibly the most kraut-heavy sandwich in Brisbane, the kraut content almost equalling the quantity of thinly sliced corned beef. Tippler’s also does their Reuben in miniature as a slider so you can have, like, eight.
Image credit: Ariana Gillrie