Roast Beast (Brookline, MA)

(Update: Roast Beast closed in early November 2019, citing fire code problems. No news on reopening in a new location)

One of my annual traditions is volunteering at one of the local FIRST Robotics competitions, usually as a Robot Inspector or a Judge. This year’s volunteer assignment was for the New England District Championship at Boston University’s Agganis Arena, and that gave me another opportunity to check out some of the Brookline area dining options.

One particular place had caught my eye since I had walked by it several times on last year’s “Death March” (my annual tradition of walking ~20 miles through an urban area, exploring neighborhoods and eateries that I normally wouldn’t visit). That place is right in central Brookline in the basement of a building: Roast Beast.

As I talked about in last year’s review of Liberty Bell Roast Beef, the Boston area is the epicenter of New England’s Roast Beef Sandwich Belt, and like most Roast Beef Sandwich places, Roast Beast is almost entirely focused on one menu item: the roast beef sandwich. It’s otherwise a fairly minimalist operation, with an ordering counter and several stools up against the wall.

Sandwich-wise, the primary choice at Roast Beef is the meat, with roast beef, although they also have turkey and a few types of chicken. The next is the size of sandwich, and since I’ve had more than a little excess in my recent dining (see my review of Au Pied De Cochon’s Cabane a Sucre, for example), I opted for the small sandwich.

The other choice is toppings, and here Roast Beast shines. While a lot of places offer horseradish and bbq as the primary sauce choices, Roast Beast has over a dozen sauce choices, ranging from Beast Sauce (which I would call an upscale version of Arby sauce), Tiger Sauce, Cranberry Mayo, Chipotle, and several BBQ sauces. It’s quite the selection. Next, they’ve got several veggies, included lettuce, tomato, and onion, and over a dozen cheese choices as well. Lest you find yourself having difficulty making a decision, the walls are covered with all sorts of recommended combinations.

That said, I played it simple on my first visit, with a small roast beef with onion, Vermont cheddar, and Beast sauce. I’ll have to say, for a small sandwich, it’s actually pretty generous. As far as the meat quality? It was reasonably good, although I do like my roast beef sandwich a bit on the rare side, and this was more like a medium, but that might be the source of the beef: I’m not 100% sure, but I think Roast Beast actually uses Boar’s Head roast beef and not their own. Still, the quality of the beef was decently good, and reasonably generous.

As far as the toppings? The Beast Sauce was quite tangy and delicious, and combined well with the Vermont cheddar and onion to make a pleasant sandwich. Was I wowed? Not completely (there are better places for rare roast beef the way I like it, like Kelly’s, or the abovementioned Liberty Bell), but it was still a good, enjoyable, and ample sandwich. I certainly want to come back and try some of the better topping combinations.

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