Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bad Ass Burgers Of Brotherly Love

Hello Readers!

How have your holidays been treating you?

Have you been exploring local dispensaries of sandwiches?

While home recently in Philadelphia, I was able to try a few new places that came with high recommendations.

Bobby's Burger Palace is a new burger joint in University City, owned by renowned chef, Bobby Flay.

I have to admit, that the first time I heard of Bobby Flay, I was not a fan. He had just taken on my favorite Iron Chef (Morimoto!), and in celebration at the end of their match, he stood on the countertop of Kitchen Stadium, something that was played up as an insult to the show, and his incredibly talented opponent.

The years passed though and I learned more of Bobby's style through Iron Chef America and Throwdown (definitely worth watching). And so when it came time to visit Bobby's Burger Palace, I was definitely game.

Each Burger is named after a different city, each with its own local style showing through. I decided on the Napa Valley burger since the addition of a goat cheese spread piqued my taste buds.

This burger was delicious. The meat was cooked exactly to my liking. Just as a note for you all dear Readers, medium at BBP is pink throughout. While this really is the best way to enjoy a superior burger, I know some people like their meat not so close to living.

Full of flavor, juicy, tender, and downright beautiful to look at, the meat was perfectly cooked and was so good that I ate this sandwich a lot faster than expected.

The goat cheese spread was akin to the consistency of a sour cream, but ten times as delicious. It still had that pungent dry taste that goat cheese is known for, and was a great addition with the fresh watercress and the heart crunch of the potato chips.

The bun was so soft, golden, and buttery, it practically melted away in my mouth with every bite. This is another reason getting the sandwich "crunchified" by adding chips is a bonus: it adds a different texture and substance to the mix.

The atmosphere of the restaurant was equally as good. A retro cafeteria style restaurant with pea-soup colored walls, and long tables with slide up chairs, it just oozed cool.

You add in a decidedly amazing sandwich, and you have a restaurant that is a can't miss for locals and visitors alike.

Napa Valley Burger (Crunchified)
**** 1/2 Stars
Bobby's Burger Palace
3925 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cold Hands And A Warm Sandwich

Hello again, dear Readers!

I have traveled many miles back east in time for the holidays, and while I enjoy the season here in the freezing cold, I figured I would find some amazing sandwiches on the other side of the country.

The work of a true sandwichologist never ends.

This week, in my trek East, I stopped in State College, PA...home of THE Penn State.

I had to throw a bit of a plug in there, didn't I?

Settling in at local favorite, The Deli Restaurant, I looked through their menu, deciding which would be the first sandwich I reviewed back east. Every option on the menu sounded delicious, but one stood out the most to me: The Pastrami Reuben.

Yes, I know. I review these types of sandwiches a lot. But there's a reason, well two: 1.) they're my favorite and 2.) when made properly, they can be phenomenal.

This was hands down, the best pastrami reuben I have had since beginning this blog. I don't have a single complaint about it.

It's really your standard reuben, with sauerkraut, melted swiss cheese and rye bread, but instead of corned beef, pastrami takes center stage.

The pastrami was was a beautiful color of dark read with black edges. It tasted sweet and savory at the same time. Still warm from the kitchen, it practically fell apart in my mouth.

The sauerkraut had its usual pungent aroma and matched well with the smoky swiss cheese. But one of the most impressive aspects of this sandwich was the bread.

Your typical toasted rye bread for a reuben, except it did something not so typical.

It didn't fall apart.

It was a double decker sandwich, with toasted rye in the middle, and even that bread was able to handle the weight of these three ingredients without disintegrating or even becoming mushy. I was impressed, and this most of all ranks this sandwich near the top. Too many times my Reuben experience leaves me picking up pieces near the end because the bread has moved on to sandwich heaven. But not this time.

It was delicious, plain and simple. The person who made this deserves a hearty handshake.

So the next time you're heading to Penn State, or traveling across the beautiful state of Pennsylvania, make sure you stop in at the Deli Restaurant and order the Pastrami Reuben.

You will not be disappointed.

Pastrami Reuben
**** 1/2 Stars
113 Heister Street
State College, PA

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

8 Ounces of Heaven

Welcome back Sandwichphiles!

I have been taking a number of sandwich excursions over the past few months, and even with this feat, I am still up to my neck in recommendations. Regardless, please keep the suggestions flowing in!

Out of those suggestions, one of the most highly recommended places has been 8oz Burger Bar in Los Angeles.

With a name like that, how can you turn it down?

For my first visit to 8oz Burger Bar, I had the delicious Short Rib Grilled Cheese, and this time at least real ribs were used to make this sandwich (refer to last week's blog on the McRib). Even though the burger selection seems phenomenal, how could I turn down the promise of short ribs on a sandwich?

The ribs are marinated and then slow roasted until they practically fall of the bone. They are then roughly chopped and piled high upon this sandwich. Tender, fully flavored, and delicious, you'd wish there were more on this sandwich, even though it seems like there is enough rib meat on here to feed a full summer bbq.

Onion marmalade and Bel Paese cheese are mixed nicely together with the ribs. The onion marmalade provides a slight sweet flavor to complement the spice marinated ribs.

The cheese on this sandwich was one I had never tried before. Bel Paese is a semi-soft Italian cheese that has a light buttery flavor. It melts very well and is sometimes used as a substitute for mozzerella. So if you've tried mozzerella you'll have a good ideas as to how this Bel Paese fits with this sandwich. No other cheese really would have worked as well with this sandwich. It had the an excellent light flavor that didn't take away from the delicious short ribs.

After eating, one question popped into my mind: Was this in fact a grilled cheese?

I've discussed this numerous times before with people about whether or not adding ingredients to a grilled cheese will still technically make it a grilled cheese.

So I offer this to you: If the cheese is the main ingredient to the sandwich, then yes it is a grilled cheese (e.g. adding a slice of avocado to the grilled cheese sandwich). In the case of this sandwich though, the short ribs would be the dominant ingredient and hence should be considered a "melt" even though the cheese is plentiful.

Regardless, it is an excellent sandwich and you should either give 8oz Burger Bar a try, or find a similar sandwich in your area to compare.

Lastly, before I head out onto the hunt for next week's sandwich, a note for all of you East Coast Readers! I will be visiting Philadelphia and Washington DC for the holidays and will be looking for numerous places to sample sandwiches there. Please leave a comment with your suggestions so that I have a plethora of options while visiting.

Until next week readers, happy sandwiching!

**** Stars
Short Rib Grilled Cheese
8oz. Burger Bar
7661 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Day I Caught A Unicorn

Welcome back dear readers of DANGER!

Have you had enough time to digest last week's offering?

Because this week we will tackle a cult favorite sandwich, and a personal favorite of mine: The McRib.

Ah, the McRib.

For the longest time, the mythical sandwich was only offered for short periods of time, and sometimes only in select markets. But after the last appearance, McDonalds has decided to make it a full fledged, official member of its menu.

But, you've seen this before right? A wild and crazy sandwich offered by a fast food chain (The Double D-A-M-N 5/26/2010) that has some sort of cult following, whether real or imaginary. But the question again becomes: is it any good?

I've been one of the people on the McRib sandwich since I first tasted it back in the early 2000s. I'd quickly jump out ot a McDonalds to get one whenever it was released (it was college, okay?). And my love for it, and it's limited availablity led me to giving this pork-hybrid patty the nickname 'Unicorn Meat".

Probably also because I didn't really want to know what it was made of, and Unicorn meat was surprisingly less disgusting than what it was more than likely made of.

But is the McRib something that I would still enjoy?

For those of you who have never seen the actual sandwich, the patty has been molded into a rib rack shape, deep fried, and covered in BBQ sauce.

It honestly looks like something that should not exist.

And yet it does.

I have seen all of the new commercials, advertising a tangy BBQ experience with fresh onions and pickles. It got me excited because the one fast food sandwich I always remember enjoying had returned, and this time for good.

Sadly, the sandwich no longer lived up to my astronomical expectations, for a number of reasons.

One, the patty was bland. One of the most bland things I have ever tasted. No tangy BBQ flavor, no flavor at all actually.

I mean, how do you fry something and not have at least a "fried" flavor?

Secondly, the onions were raw and chopped, as if they should have been grilled, but someone forgot to do that part (which may in fact be the case).

The roll was the only positive thing here, and even that was a stretch. Light and fluffy, it may be the only thing that even offered a semblance of flavor.

So what happened between my last McRib experience and my last one? Had my taste buds changed for the better? Had it never tasted good to begin with? Or had McDonalds simply dropped the ball and offered a less than sub-par experience.

Either way, this is a sandwich you can skip without worry.

McRib Sandwich
* Star
If I have to tell you where to get this, there is something wrong.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Diner I Can Call 'Home'

Greetings Followers of Danger!

Did you have a most excellent Thanksgiving Holiday?

Did you enjoy post-holiday leftover sandwiches like I did?

Well this week, it's back to the grinder and tackling another sample of one of my favorites.

If you haven't noticed already, people in Los Angeles love pastrami sandwiches. I mean, absolutely adore. You can get one at practically any restaurant you go to.

Granted, this does not mean that they are all good.

And that's where I come into play, I will continue to sort out the delicious from the disappointing for you, and this week's entry is a a definite nod to the former.

I've passed Art's Deli on in Studio City numerous times as I work nearby at CBS Studios, but I had never gone in even though I had always heard it was a great place to eat at, and somewhat slightly better than Jerry's Famous Deli down the street on Ventura Blvd.

From the retro stylings and bright neon exterior, to the 1950's style cafeteria look inside, Art's had me at first look on atmosphere alone. This was a style I could get used to.

This place had the look that said "we make a killer Pastrami" and so my internal Sandwich Radar (...Sandar?) urged me to order it.

When it arrived I was hit in the face with a delicious smelling sandwich. There wasn't much competition for my nasal attention in this place when I was there, but still it was noticeable.

The rye bread was lightly crisped and held up over time with eating. The problem with a properly made Pastrami is that the bread can't always hold everything together until the end. Sometimes, the cheese and sauerkraut can make the bread weak, mushy, and unusable by the end. Not the case here. It held the test of time, and was delicious.

The pastrami was perfectly cooked. It fell apart with every bite, and was full of that spiced flavor. The problem with a pastrami sandwich is the cooking time. Sometimes the meat isn't fully done (or it could be a lower quality) and you're left with meat that is still full of fat, making it too tough or chewy.

The sauerkraut and cheese blended very well together and didn't weaken the bread, much to my relief. For those not keen to sauerkraut though, you may be turned off by this pastrami sandwich specifically because it is absolutely loaded. It seemed to take up more space on the sandwich than the meat. Even with this though, the taste didn't overpower or conceal the pastrami.

My first experience with Art's was definitely a positive one. The atmosphere brought me back to late nights in diners of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, while the sandwich brought me back to the experience of the best pastrami sandwiches I've had in the past.

So that's it for this week, dear readers. But before I go, what bugs you the most about pastrami sandwiches (if you even eat meat)? I'm curious if the downfalls of pastrami sandwiches is universal.

Until we meat again, dear readers!


**** Stars
Art's Delicatessen
12224 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA