Manhattan chains aren’t like their outer borough brethren. For one, they don’t get flashy microsites and bus tours of Katz’s and Ottomanelli & Sons promoting the same roast beef the rest of the country consumes to little fanfare.
They also fit into their natural surroundings pretty well even if they don’t last. Who even recalls the Manhattan Mall Arby’s? The new iteration that opened last week is next to Port Authority, sharing the same corridor as Manhattan’s only White Castle and the McDonald’s long-formed so wonderfully earlier this year.
In Brooklyn, they take over Gage & Tollner before disappearing. In Middle Village, they flatten Niederstein’s and quietly persevere. (Unrelated to Arby’s, the latest old-school Queens German restaurant to die and transition is Chalet Alpina into Peruvian La Coya. I was curious about the Pisco bar when I walked by last week to see if anything was going on in the former Sizzler–nope, and I nearly shed a tear–but there wasn’t a soul inside.)
So how is the food? Do you need me to tell you? It’s Arby’s; you get it or you don’t. I went rogue, which for me meant non-Beef ‘n Cheddar. At the last minute, I went premium and chose what I thought was the A.1. Special Reserve Steak Sandwich instead. I had my reasons. (Ok, I’ll tell you one. It was to impress a guy on social media who I’m already friends with. He never acknowledged it, but I’m pretty sure he noticed that I was eating the sandwich he posted on my timeline two months ago. Yep.)
But now that I’m looking at the menu what I ate was definitely not that limited edition sandwich because A.1 branding is nowhere to be seen, and also someone clearly fucked up because by deduction, the only sandwich involving bacon and crispy onions is the Smokehouse Brisket and that’s also supposed to include smoked Gouda and this contained no cheese whatsoever, when really it needed more creamy salt and fat, and now I’m angry at Arby’s, day 2 in operation (on my visit) or not.
Ok, I just calmed down. One unique feature of the Manhattan Arby’s is breakfast. (It’s no Taco Bell, however.) In fact, there are four whole categories devoted to the not-that-important-meal-of-the-day: sliders, flatbreads, biscuits, and premium biscuits, served with coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company, which honestly I can’t tell if it’s a pseudo or legit beanery or what. I never eat fast food breakfast, but I may just pick up a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit tomorrow if I can make it by 10:30am since it’s the eve of Christmas Eve and I don’t really have to go to the office.
Arby’s * 611 Eighth Ave., New York, NY