Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A New Summertime Favorite

Greetings, Readers!

As I showed last week with revisiting two places that I had eaten at and reviewed previously, there is an inherent problem with this blog: While trying to bring you all fresh new experiences and sandwiches each week, I sometimes don't get the chance to repeat at some of my favorite places.

Take for example Sweetsalt in Toluca Lake. I love this place. It's fantastic, with a great atmosphere, and it's right in the middle of a lot of great shops and stops on the main street of Toluca Lake.

So on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we headed back to this quaint lunch spot.

The previous sandwich I reviewed from them, their duck confit, is still a standout sandwich, but this time around something new caught my eye. Something I've been wanting to try for quite sometime anywhere I could find one: A lobster roll.

Stacked between two halves of a brioche bun, this sandwich is packed with thick chunks of Maine lobster, topped with cucumbers, shallot, dill, and sundried tomato aioli. The creamy smooth texture of this sandwich is punctuated with the pop of lobster chunks and the crunch of the fresh, green cucumber. The lobster is smooth without an overpowering seafood flavor, and the cucumber helps to cut through all the other flavors offering a complementary taste.

The brioche bun, with its buttery flavor, held together until the end.

Overall, this was excellent and gives me hope for the future of lobster rolls to come. So if it's a beautiful Sunday afternoon (which for the next few months here in LA it will be), drive on down to Sweetsalt, pick up a cool drink and a refreshing summer sandwich like their Lobster Roll.

Until next week, Readers...

Lobster Roll
**** Stars
10218 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, CA 91602

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Double Dose of Deliciousness

Mo's Royale with Cheese
Greetings, Readers!

I sit here at my desk, composing this week's blog sans glasses! For those of you who did not know, I can still see fairly well without them, though reading a computer screen is mildly more difficult.

Like nose 8 inches from the screen more difficult, so I apologize for first wave typographical mistakes.

But one thing I will not be making a mistake about is the level of deliciousness provided in this week's sandwiches. 

SandwichES. Plural.

I've reviewed sandwiches from both of these places before, so this is more like a quick update. 

The first stop was Mo's in Burbank. Previously I have stopped here while sampling the best burgers of Burbank in which I thoroughly enjoyed their Menage a Trois burger. While I did want to return to that delicious offering again, I decided to switch it up with a Royale with Cheese.

The Royale is an Angus beef burger topped with tempura fried dill pickles, with cheddar cheese, Sriracha Thousand Island and crispy pancetta between two halves of a brioche bun. The pickles and Sriracha Thousand Island added great flavors of sweetness, spicy and a bit of sour pickling tastes. All were great contrasts to the mellow flavor of the medium-cooked Angus beef.

But the crispy pancetta. Wow. Little chunks of crispy-outside, chewy-inside pork not only added a delicious bacon-y flavor, but were a great textural contrast.

The only problem with this sandwich was the bun. While adding its own sweet flavor, it wasn't much to write home about. It held together until the end and did its job though. 

For the second of this week's sandwiches, I returned to Philadelphia and a small tavern called Three Monkeys. My trip back east was a brief whirlwind, but there was still time to get a sandwich and beer with my dad. 

While I previously reviewed their Caribbean Pork Sandwich, this visit was all about the daily special: A grilled cheese sandwich on Texas Toast with 5 oz. of crab meat in the middle. 

I know, fantastic. 

The garlic and butter grilled toast was delicious, added a contrasting flavor to the very mellow and smoky flavoring of the melted cheddar cheese and the crab meat, which was well seasoned and incredibly delicious. 

As far as I know, this sandwich is only a weekend special, so if you happen to be in the area on a weekend, you should definitely stop in and see if it's available. It will be well worth your time. 

Well, thank you Readers for joining me on this double dose of deliciousness this week. I hope it was enjoyable for you, and inspiring as well so that you go out and either try these exact sandwiches or something close enough. 

Until next week...

Royale with Cheese
**** Stars
Mo's Restaurant
4301 W. Riverside Dr.
Burbank CA

Crab Meat grilled Cheese
**** 1/2 Stars
Three Monkeys Cafe
9645 James Street
Philadelphia, PA

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Stroll In The Heart Downtown

Greetings, Readers! And welcome back after a self-imposed exile last week. Apologies for that, I did not mean to deprive you of sandwich goodness, so let's waste no more time and get to this week's sandwich.

While recently walking through Downtown Los Angeles I stopped in at the Artisan House at 6th and Main Streets. Half market, half restaurant this place has a great atmosphere with a beautiful interior of exposed brick and a modern look.

Settling into a seat with World Cup games playing at the bar, I ordered a Snapshot Wheat from New Belgium and looked at their sandwich menu. With a bit of deliberation, I settled on The Artisan Burger. What better choice than to go with a burger named after the place?

Served on a wooden platter, the Artisan Burger is made from grass-fed beef, topped with cheddar cheese, organic wilds baby arugula, tomato, caramelized onions with aioli and dijon mustard. The burger was delicious and juicy, while cooked to a nice pink medium. The arugula and dijon mustard added a slightly peppery spice kick to complement the smooth and delicious beef. The buttery bun held together mostly until the end and the cheddar cheese was a great choose that still pushed some flavor through all of the other tasty ingredients.

If you're looking for a great place to unwind on a Sunday afternoon with a burger, a beer, and some sports on the television without being in a place that is overly noisy, The Artisan House is a great place to head to. If you're looking for a good burger to enjoy any day of the week though, you can't go wrong with the Artisan Burger.

Until next week, Readers...

The Artisan Burger
**** Stars
Artisan House
600 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ice Scream, You Scream

Greetings, Readers!

Just a short post today for you all to celebrate the official start of summertime this past week.

Though if you go by how many times I've been grilling so far, summer started about six weeks ago.

At work recently, we had a visit from Coolhaus, an ice cream sandwich truck here in LA.

With Coolhaus, you are able to not only pick the cookies of your sandwich (you're even allowed to mix and match) but you also get top choose your ice cream in between. For mine I went with the Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie and Dirty Mint ice cream in the middle.

Dirty Mint has chocolate chips and mint leaves mixed in so you get a strong, natural mint flavor mixed in with all of the sweet chocolate. The combination was savory and refreshing at the same time. It was a great combination to ride out the coming summer months with.

If you are looking for a way to keep cool with a sweet treat as the next few months heat up, I highly suggest you seek out a Coolhaus truck, or visit their brick-and-mortar shops in Culver City and Pasadena.

Until next week, Readers.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies with Dirty Mint Ice Cream
**** 1/2
Coolhaus LA

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sandwich Celebrations

Greetings, Readers!

You know, when people find out that I write a sandwich blog, I am quite often asked which sandwich is the best I've ever had, or at least the best in Los Angeles. Sometimes particular sandwiches stick in my head as favorites (pulled pork or cubanos) but sometimes it depends on the mood I'm in at the moment (I could be feeling pastrami-ish on a Wednesday).

But the thing I usually tell people about what makes a sandwich experience exception is the company.

Sure, exploring places on my own is a fun time because i'm still experiencing great food in great places. but the people who join me on my excursions help take these trips to the next level.

Take for example two weeks ago when my wife and I went to The Fat Dog in Hollywood to help our friend Ross propose to his girlfriend, Katie. Under the ruse of filming a video segment for this blog (there will eventually be some in the future!), we filmed the build up to the proposal and the actual proposal itself.

Following such a life-changing event, could the sandwiches at The Fat Dog be memorable in themselves?

Ordering the Braised Short-Rib French Dip sandwich I braced myself for what could be a sure winner. I've eaten a lot of short rib sandwiches, as well as French Dips from classics like Cole's and Philippe's, so this sandwich had a lot to live up to.

Braised short rib, Gruyere cheese, and caramelized onions sit nicely between two slices of buttered and grilled toast.  The short rib was delicious and well flavored along with the mild, creamy Gruyere. I really enjoyed the buttered and toasted bread (it held together better with dipping) but along with the salty au jus made for an overpowering experience that hid the greatness of the short ribs. While enjoyable, the salt was a little much for me.

The ambiance and experience here at The Fat Dog warrant a second look at their menu. Off topic of sandwiches, it seems like their Fish and Chips would be an excellent choice for an evening there, and a lot of their other options sound equally tasty. My next time around though I'd probably just stick to trying their burger.

Until next week, Readers.

Braised Short Rib French Dip
*** 1/2
The Fat Dog
801 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Afternoon with a Legend

Greetings, Readers!

After five entries of sandwiches from Hawaii, it seemed difficult at first to find a good sandwich to mark my return to Los Angeles based sandwiches.

How could I find something so good here, in LA that would be able to put my memories of my time in the 50th state behind me for the time being so that I may impartially judge a sandwich here.

Such is the hard life of a sandwichologist.

Taking away the great responsibility of picking a place though, my former roommate Ross suggested we meet at Langer's Delicatessen for a belated birthday lunch. Only a one block walk from a Red Line Metro Station (yes we have a Metro system), I approached what would soon turn out to be a momentous occasion on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Stepping inside this Los Angeles institution, one is transported back in time. The interior hasn't been updated in what seems like quite some time but it absolutely adds to the charm of the place. The warm and welcoming staff don't hurt either. The experience of Langer's reminds me very much of many of the East Coast diners I've been to, and I mean that as a statement of high compliment.

While at times the lines to get into Langer's can be exceptionally long, and the fact that they close at 4pm, this is a great place to order a sandwich, have a drink and soak in the history and homeliness of a fantastic dining establishment.

But you're here to find out if their sandwiches are any good, right? You want to know if it's possible that all the talk about Langer's pastrami or corned beef sandwiches are really worth the hype.

Take it from me, it is not hype at all. It is honest truth.

Langer's is known for their #19, a pastrami, Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian Dressing affair. I had considered going with this, but I am not always a fan of the cold cole slaw contrast with the warm pastrami and so did the #19 without cole slaw.

The pastrami was delicious. Thick, tender cuts stacked high between two slices of rye bread, it's obvious why their pastrami is so famous. Smoky cuts combined with the smoky melted Swiss and a bit of tang and sweetness from the Russian dressing, this sandwich is a great excuse to take Metro and meet a friend for lunch. It's simple and straightforward. This sandwich doesn't need flashy ingredients to make it stand out.

And compared to the other pastrami sandwiches I've had, this one is top notch, conversation or not. If you live here or are just visiting, make sure this is the stop you make if you're looking for great pastrami.

Until next week, Readers...

Pastrami w/ Swiss and Russian Dressing
Langer's Delicatessen
704 S. Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sandwich Island Fever (Part 5)

Greetings, Readers!

This week's blog will have both a very sad, and very happy tone.

Very happy because this may be one of the top stops I made on my recent trip to Hawai'i.

Very sad because it was one of the last stops I made in Hawai'i.

But what better place to visit to wrap up our trip there than to stop at Kona Brewing Company on The Big Island. Visiting the brewery and pub was one of my top destinations while we were visiting the state. I'm a huge fan of their beer and wanted to be able to taste some more limited options that are only available on tap at the brewery itself.

The beer, as usual was delicious, and made me wish that the brewery bottled some of these other limited options sometime soon. Duke's Blonde Ale was a fantastically refreshing. I was happy to see that six-packs of their delicious Castaway IPA are now in bottles for the season. Definitely pick that up if you see it and enjoy refreshing IPAs.

But enough of their fantastic beer, let's discuss the sandwich.

The menu has so many delicious sounding options that it did take quite a bit for me to settle on one. Most of them also use their beers as an ingredient. Wanting to stick with the success of the seafood based sandwich from my post two weeks ago, I ordered the Big Wave Shrimp Melt.

A significant amount of tender shrimp are braised in Big Wave Golden Ale (a fantastic beer) and garlic with house made avocado aioli, parmesan and provolone cheeses, roasted garlic, fresh spinach and locally grown tomato thrown on top. Stack this deliciousness between tow halves a hearty roll and you have a great sandwich.

The shrimp were tender but still had a bit of pop to them when you took a bite with plenty of delicious flavor. The parmesan and provolone cheese combined for an incredibly savory, powerful flavor that was very present, but not overpowering of the more mild shrimp flavor.

The fresh spinach and tomato added a contrast of fresh crunch and flavor. The tomato was not mealy in the least and was an excellent contrast to the savory sandwich. The roasted garlic added a great flavor that complemented the cheeses and mild seafood.

Plus, anything with roasted garlic gets a big thumbs up from me.

Stack all of this between the sides of a hearty roll that held it all together until the end of the sandwich, and you have an excellent example and one of the best sandwiches I had during out stay in the 50th state.

If you happen to be in Kona and stop by KBC, definitely take the tour as well. I find it's always great to see the inner workings of a place like this before or after you enjoy their delicious beer. You get to see the process at work and may even get a better understand and appreciation of the craft of beer.

An excellent way to wrap up our stay in the islands for a week and definitely left me wanting to return very soon. Hawai'i is not only a fantastic place to visit, but it's obvious that it is a place where the people understand what makes a good sandwich.

Until next week, Readers...

Big Wave Shrimp Melt
**** 1/2 Stars
Kona Brewing Company
75-5629 Kuakini Highway
Kailua Kona, HI 96740