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.
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."
Venison Sandwich from Arby's served only at NYC 2nd location at 32 E 23rd street. アービーズの第2店舗でのみ提供されている鹿肉サンドイッチ。 @arbys @foodbeast #immadeofsugar #yum #nom #burger #sandwich #arbys #limited #venison #venisonsandwich #nyc #newyork #nuevayork #アービーズ #ニューヨーク #サンドイッチ #バーガー #ベニスン #鹿肉 #鹿 #シカ #鹿肉バーガー #鹿肉サンドイッチ #美味しい
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!