The buttermilk-brined meat of the Cajun chicken sandwich is some of the most tender I’ve tasted, and its nubbly cornmeal batter is a thing near and dear to my heart, just like the kind that swaddles oysters and catfish across the South.
As I stood in line, deciding what to order, a mother and son raved about the burger that they’d had on their last visit. Their guidance aside, I felt compelled to choose the Reuben. It’s one of the last things our colleague, local food critic Rob DeWalt, wrote about before his untimely death.
It’s a nearly perfect sandwich. The soft marbled rye is redolent with caraway. The pastrami is tender, peppery, and heady with the aromatics of its spice-heavy brine. The ratio of meat to mildly funky sauerkraut is ideal. The Swiss cheese had melted down the sides of the sandwich and onto the griddle, where it singed to a delightful golden crisp.
Though the sun high above was warm and bright, we ate our meal under a melancholic cloud. “If they don’t have this when you reach the pearly gates,” DeWalt wrote of the SFI Reuben, “turn around.” I don’t know what happens when you die, but if there’s a heaven, I hope Rob is reclining on a cloud there, eating Reubens like this for eternity.