A remake walks a fine line. You need to sing it in a fresh key or play it with unique instruments. Otherwise, what's the point? But you also need to show deference to the original so as not to alienate the fan base. The duck reuben ($13 with frites) at Hopleaf reboots this classic with mixed results.
It is an upscale, playful take on the classic reuben, kind of like a vintage two-flat getting the granite countertop makeover. The high notes are the tangy house-made kraut and the outstanding crunchy marbled rye. The cranberry cream cheese spread adds a subtle splash of sweet. Then you have the Emmentaler cheese, which is very much like that friend you have who is great if he's there, but you don't miss him if he's not. And you may notice I haven't mentioned the fatty, surprisingly bland duck. Any reuben connoisseur will tell you the beacon should always be that salty, briny, pickled zing of the meat, shining brightly through all accoutrements. The duck just doesn't have enough oomph. But the well-done, salty frites are fantastic, and the aioli should be sold by the gallon.
About the Author: Josh Conley used to travel the world and have zany adventures. Then he had kids. Now he drinks a lot of coffee and makes fun of them HERE. He is a sucker for a great cannoli or a slice of Costco pizza.
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