Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A late night at the corner diner...

Welcome dear readers, for another lesson in DANGER!

There is something that you should know about me before we begin today: I have a deep love of diners.

Don't begin to worry though, this love has been deemed healthy and safe by a number of medical professionals, so i'm in the clear. Thank you for your concern though.

So what is it exactly about diners that I love so much?

Is it the atmosphere? The muddy coffee? The regulars? Or is it the waitress who once asked "you need anymore coffee, doll?"

It could be a combination of all of those, but then again if that was all I talked about, this foodie blog would leave out the crucial aspect of food reviewing.

Now for anyone who has ever eaten at a diner, you know for a fact that diner food can quite often be very hit or miss (there are some notable exceptions to be had though). And so, when a good meal is found it's definitely worth being passed on to others.

Enter the Reuben at North Hollywood Diner.

I've been coming to this diner since I first interned in Los Angeles in 2005, and I've tried at least half of the items on their substantial menu, but the Reuben is something new for me this time around.

Corned Beef, Jack cheese, and a healthy dose of sauerkraut on grilled rye bread seems like an easy enough sandwich, but in my position, I also know it's something that can easily be screwed up. The wrong proportions, or badly prepared meat can lead to an unsatisfying mess in your hands.

The Reuben at the North Hollywood Diner could have been improved upon had the meat cooked a little longer. The problem with corned beef is that if you don't take your time in cooking the meat long enough, it can be quite tough and take away from the experience. The seasoning for the corned beef was great, producing a subtle tangy flavor, but every once in awhile i'd have to put my incisors to work a little more than i normally like to.

The sauerkraut was perfect: not too sour, but not too weak either. The cheese was melted until it was creamy and blended well with the healthy dose of sauerkraut.

The grilled rye bread could have spent a little more time on the grill. There was a slight crisp to it, but was still very soft in most parts. Even the butter used on the bread was still noticeable, and a sure sign it hadn't been fully cooked. If you're going to grill rye bread for your sandwich, go hard or go home, is what i always say.

Overall, if you find yourself in North Hollywood and looking for a satisfying meal, the North Hollywood Diner will certainly tend to your needs. This sandwich, though, was passable but there are plenty of other delis and diners in the area that can easily do much better.

Until next time, may the DANGER be with you.

*** Stars
North Hollywood Diner
11329 Magnolia Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 92601

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Off To The Greek Isles...Or South of Koreatown.

Good Morning DANGER-ites!

Once again, taking up my now sacred duty to taste test all of LA's 17 most delicious sandwiches, I arrive in the Byzantine-Latino Quarter of Los Angeles (yes, it does exist, much to my surprise as well).

Alongside taco stands and spanish billboards lies Cyrillic signs and Papa Cristo's, a delicious Greek deli and market.

Having to drive this far away, I breathed a sigh of relief when I arrived there at 730: 30 minutes before closing.

I quickly ordered the sandwich and awaited a delicious journey into my digestive system. The service was very quick too as my sandwich, along with pickled vegetables, was on the table in less than 10 minutes.

To start, the Roasted Lamb and Feta Cheese sandwich comes on a tough Italian Roll, with large chunks of slow roasted lamb, and copious amount of feta cheese.

The sandwich roll was a very good contrast for the sandwich: a little tough and perfectly golden.

The lamb must have been roasting for quite some time, as the meat easily feel apart in my mouth. Taking a chunk of it from my sandwich, I pulled it apart to see that most of the fat had been melted away ages ago, leaving a very tender, juicy, and lightly seasoned meat in it's wake.

While the lamb is more subtle in its flavor, the Feta cheese is a different story altogether. Feta cheese is another one of my favorite cheeses for any situation. I really do love dry and pungent cheeses (listen to me rave about goat cheese sometime), and this feta delivers. It is a serious taste bud explosion when you get a mouth full of feta along with the lamb. It really adds a nice punch to the entire sandwich.

Overall, the sandwich ranks very highly with me. The lamb was very well roasted, the cheese adds a nice touch, and the bread surrounding this delicious pair ties it altogether in a distinctly DANGEROUS way.

If you're in LA, and can make the trip to this remote part of the city, Papa Cristo's is definitely worth the journey to this DANGER-filled neighborhood.

**** Stars
Papa Cristo's
2771 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Comes Early

Back for more oh seekers of DANGER?

This week's find comes from simply walking down the street and letting my DANGER radar sniff out a place for me.

While walking down Ventura Blvd, awaiting a DANGEROUS oil change, I stumbled upon a small cafe in Sherman Oaks called Pane Dolce.

A quaint local shop, Pane Dolce is very warm and welcoming, almost as if you've shown up in your own living room and decided to pay for overpriced coffee on your couch.

But the coffee is not what you've come for, it is the sandwich.

Pane Dolce has a wide variety of paninis available, but the one that struck my eye the most was the Turkey, Pesto, and Cranberry Panini.

Now like most people, I am a huge fan of Thanksgiving.

A nationally recognized day to gorge ourselves in remembrance of....something...

So, naturally, when someone combines the two best parts of Thanksgiving dinner into a sandwich, I'm game.

The bread was a crisply baked golden wonder. Just like any good panini, it was cooked just the right amount of time to give it grill lines, and a crisp exterior while still staying warm and soft inside.

The cranberries inside were incredible.

I am a huge fan of cranberries. Though I usually prefer them more on the tart side, the way these sweet cranberries paired so well with the slightly tangy and creamy pesto, it was something that i was able to overlook. I will now have to try to find more savory sandwiches to add sweet cranberries to.

Lastly, and probably the least standout part of this sandwich would be the turkey.

Roasted, and thick cut, the turkey was good, but that's about it. Not great, but not bad at all. A middle of the road addition, and easily overshadowed by the cranberries and pesto. This sandwich may not even have made it onto my radar had it not been for those two delicious friends.

Well this marks another week in my search for DANGER.

Next week, I take on another sandwich in LA Magazine's Top 17 Sandwiches of Los Angeles.

Until then...may DANGER be with you.

*** 1/2 Stars
Pane Dolce
13608 Venutra Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This little piggy went straight to my stomach...

Look out! DANGER ahead!

...and by DANGER, I mean PASTRAMI!

For this week's adventure, I headed deep into the concrete jungle of Eagle Rock in search of another of Los Angeles' highest rated sandwiches:

The Oinkster Pastrami Sandwich from legendary eatery...Oinkster.

I had heard about The Oinkster a number of times: wonderful reviews in LA Weekly, Top 17 Sandwiches of LA in LA Magazine, and through numerous personal reviews.

When I first arrived at Oinkster, I was greeted by a very lengthy line that stretched out the door and around the corner. But have no fear readers, as this lengthy line moves very quickly, and will not keep you away from your own taste of heaven for too long.

Wanting to tackle another of LA's 17 Best Sandwiches, I ordered the Oinkster Pastrami Sandwich: Pastrami cured for 2 weeks, Gruyere cheese, carmelized onions, and red cabbage slaw.

Wow. Seriously. For those less daring, the regular Pastrami sandwich does not contain those extras.

But seriously, why would you want to miss out?

The first challenge of the sandwich was figuring out how to eat it: It was oddly wrapped in paper and oddly cut, so that if you tried to pull it apart, the pastrami poured out into your basket.

So here's a tip: don't try to figure it out, just bite into the deliciousness, head on!

One of the things about Pastrami, for those that don't know, is that if it's not prepared right it can be tough, bitter, and fatty. If you don't take time preparing it well enough, it can be an incredibly offputting experience.

Oinkster's Pastrami is cured for two weeks, and is just perfect. Soft, delicate meat with an exceptional seasoned flavor. Not too strong, but not too weak.

Gruyere cheese is probably one of my favorite cheese of all time. it's lumped on here pretty thick, and is very gooey. If you're not used to cheese on a pastrami, it may be off-putting at first, but be adventurous!

The red cabbage slaw is the real surprise winner here. At first it's sweet, then it's a bit tangy, and is a great contrast to the rest of the sandwich. For how little is actually there, it's pretty noticeable, and very delicious.

The only part of the sandwich that I was not that impressed with was the roll. It was flaky, a bit dry, and didn't complement the sandwich well. I would have preferred the grilled rye of Brent's that I sampled a few weeks ago. Regardless, it's not bad enough to take away from the overall enjoyment of the sandwich.

If make it out to Eagle Rock to visit Oinkster, make sure you order a side of their fries (crispy, warm, lightly salted, and delicious), and get the spicy sweet Chipotle ketchup to dip the fries in.

You won't be disappointed.

So, another week, another sandwich.

A highly recommended sandwich at that.

This is my 11th entry here at The Danger Sandwich, and I hope it is as enjoyable for you as it has been for me so far. Please keep the suggestions coming (even for places not in Los Angeles), as I plan to keep moving forward in my mission of sampling delicious sandwiches, so that you may not have to face the DANGER by yourself.

Unless, of course, it's delicious.

Then by all means, have at it.

**** Stars
The Oinkster
2005 Colorado Blvd
Eagle Rock, CA