Arby’s Sold All 1,000 Venison Sandwiches in NYC and Food Writers Couldn’t Handle It

Last year, Arby’s debuted its new venison sandwiches at six stores around the country; then in November, a camouflage-wrapped restaurant in Nashville sold out all 250 sandwiches in just under five hours and sparked an internet sensation with its army-drab decor.

Well, the venison sandwich has made its way to the big city — the Big Apple, to be accurate. In early March, Arby’s brought its much-touted venison sandwich to its East 23d Street location in New York City, selling out its entire 1,000-sandwich allotment in a matter of hours.

#venisonsandwich limited to 70 per location. I ate 2 they cost $5 each

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Critical reception was hilariously divided.

Writing for People, Associate Editor Alex Heigl called the sandwich “surprisingly tasty” and said,

“The sandwich is a uniformly medium level of doneness throughout the entire cut, just pink enough to yield an appetizing chew-factor without being, well, unappetizing. In fact, I would have been hard-pressed to identify it as venison in the first place.”

Steve Cuozzo’s piece for the New York Post, subtly titled “Arby’s new ‘Bambi burger’ is disgusting” — which begins, “I’ve finally tasted horse-meat hell — or at least something like it” — was less kind.

After writing that the sandwich’s cabernet and juniper sauce was “sickly sweet … more like cheap citrus marmalade,” Cuozzo wrote that “the venison taste of ash as if it were cooked not partly in a vacuum-sealed, sous-vide hot-water bath (as Arby’s claims), but on the butt of a cigar.”

Cuozzo continued, “And that was the good part. Deeper inside lay a dense mass of mystery matter that was impossible to chew, not in a few ‘sinewy’ spots, but in half of the whole shebang. A pit bull’s reputed 235 pounds of jaw pressure would not make a dent.”

To be fair, Cuozzo then recommends venison-hungry diners make their way to the nearby Musket Room in Nolita for a $36 venison dish “where New Zealand red deer is tinted with ‘flavors of gin.’ Not actual gin, but juniper meringue and licorice jus lend a tart and tingly counterpoint to the meat’s inherent smoky essenceover.”

That sounds more than a bit hoity-toity for my tastes, especially up against Arby’s under-$6 sandwich. To that, Cuozzo counters, “But Arby’s is an embarrassment to the animal kingdom at less than one-sixth the price — or at any price.”

Are you one of the lucky — or unlucky — few who have tried the Arby’s venison sandwich? Tell us what you thought in the comments!