What a cute baby, the one on the left! But a baby after all. Young Reuben, back in August of 2005, already had many of the classic traits: caraway rye, Swiss cheese, pleasantly tangy sauerkraut, a "special sauce" that was more mayo than thousand-island, accompanied by a dill pickle. On the right, a look at that same sandwich earlier this week. Can you see the difference?
A first glance, the difference is obvious: more meat, much more. It's corned beef that Sport buys from a 95-year-old company in San Francisco, Columbus Meats. Half a pound of thin-sliced meat & trimmings (sauerkraut, cheese, "special sauce") on grilled, thick-cut rye bread. And don't forget the kosher dill.
Sidebar: the difference between pastrami and corned beef. These days, both are made from brisket, the former smoked, the latter brined. The distinctions get blurry. Pastrami ideally is made from a cut called "navel" (also known as "plate") and is generally fattier. But this is a field--Jewish deli meats of New York and "smoked meat" of Montreal--that one enters with trepidation. If you substitute pastrami for corned beef, it's no longer a Reuben but a Rachel. (Huh?)
"The sandwich [in the 2005 picture] was proably just made incorrectly," restaurant owner John Howie writes in an email. (Now he tells me.) Full Reuben is now $14, a modest increase from $11.95 seven years ago.
Did I mention that all this is at Sport, across from the Space Needle? There's a flatscreen TV at every booth, and it's okay to bring the kiddies. The GM these days is none other than owner John Howie's son, Eric.