Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back In The Saddle, Again

Greetings, Readers!

I have bounced back from the sickness of last week, and was able to get out and get sandwiched properly this week.

You know, even with all of the options you've all given me over this past year, some nights it's just too hard to decide where to sample my next entry. Do I want a burger or a cold sandwich, do I want ham or turkey, etc.

Fact is, Los Angeles has way too many options.

But, wanting to keep it low key the other night, I stopped by a little place called Alcove Cafe in Los Feliz.

For those of you that may know Aroma Cafe in Studio City, this is the sister cafe. The menus are similar and so is the atmosphere: quaint outdoor cafe in which you feel like you're dining in someone's backyard. I love it.

Perusing the menu, the turkey hummus melt was the first to catch my eye: smoked turkey, hummus, aged cheddar cheese, and basil all cooked between two slices of sourdough bread.

You get your own choice of bread, but let's be real here. There's only one choice.

The sourdough bread was perfectly grilled. It had a great crispy bite to it, still kept all of its delicious sour flavor, and even maintained that slight buttery flavor from grilling. And all without burning the bread.

The turkey was slightly smoked and thickly sliced. There's a generous portion on this sandwich, and it was much appreciated.

The melted cheddar was gooey and loaded on to match the healthy portion of turkey. Even with the cheddar being aged, this cheese wasn't as sharp as you would expect. It added that slight taste of cheddar to accent the other flavors appearing in this sandwich.

If there is one problem with the sandwich it's the hummus. Now don't get me wrong, it's delicious. has wonderful flavor and really worked for this sandwich. The problem is that it overpowers everything else between the bread.

At times, you almost can't taste the other ingredients.

Regardless, I would still recommend this sandwich at Alcove, because it's by no means 'bad' at all, but it could be a lot better without so much hummus. So next time I think I might ask to scale back on that a bit.

Until next week, readers!

Turkey Hummus Melt
*** 1/2 Stars
Alcove Cafe and Bakery
1929 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fever Dreams

Greetings Readers!

Let me first apologize for the late posting this week. I've been on top of my game for almost a year, never missing a beat at the blog, but this week your poor sandwich champion is home, sick.

So while I sit here and sip on soup, I will regale you with the sandwich from this past week.

As you all know, I normally stop at local sandwich shops, and try not to visit chains, mainly because I like the local flavor that these mom and pop shops provide.

This week though I visited Gordon Biersch, a restaurant that is located in a number of cities nationwide. They have their own in-house brewery, and the food is mostly what you would find at your standard alehouse. I like to go here because their hefeweizen has banana undertones to it, and how can you argue with banana beer?

The sandwich that I ordered was the special. Their menu selection is pretty amazing, but this weekly special just jumped out at me: a pepper encrusted, poblano burger.

The bun for the burger was a potato bun, and definitely very good and very fresh, but the problem of it was the enormity of the burger and the condiments inside. After half of the burger was gone, the bun was in serious danger of falling apart. The bun actually held up just fine though, but it did become a little messy towards the end.

The burger itself I ordered medium, but I think I would recommend ordering this medium rare, if you can handle that. While the burger had an excellent taste of pepper and flavorful beef, I think it could have benefited from a slightly less thorough cooking. The meat wasn't burnt, but seemed close enough to it.

The pepper jack cheese was a nice spicy addition to the sandwich, and the cool sliced avocado inside gave a creamy smooth contrast to the rest of the flavors. My favorite part though had to be the sliced poblano pepper. It's a fairly large, mild chile pepper with a mild amount of heat. For this sandwich, the pepper was sliced down the middle and laid on top of the burger.

Overall, this pepper added a nice smoky, slightly spicy flavor that was an excellent addition.

For the side, the burger came with a nice stack of GB's delicious garlic fries. Warning though, these are not for the faint of heart, or for those that are not fans of garlic. Seriously, they pile it on.

If you have a Gordon Biersch establishment in your city, it is definitely worth checking out. Not only are their other sandwiches delicious, but the specials like this poblano burger make it even more worth your while.

Until next week!

Poblano Burger
**** Stars
Gordon Biersch
Locations vary by city

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Soujouk, So Good!

Hello again, dear Readers.

This week I journeyed to one of my favorite delis in all of Los Angeles, although I hadn't been there in quite some time.

Nestled away in a small shopping center in Studio City lies the Tarzana Armenian Deli, or Tag Deli.

Now I've found that on the west coast it's much harder to find a great deli, unlike the east coast which seems to have one on every corner. That's why a deli with a great selection of sandwiches like Tag Deli is so exceptional.

The sandwich that is most talked about here is the soujouk. Even though they make excellent deli sandwiches here to your specifications, this is by far their signature piece.

Soujouk is a spicy Turkish sausage that is popular in the Balkans, Middle East, and Central Asia which is made from either spicy beef or pork combined with various spices such as red pepper, cumin and garlic. Delicious is what it is.

I would compare it to a very dry salami with a much stronger flavor and with a deeper red coloring. If you're a fan of spicy, pungent meat, this is definitely for you. The smell of the soujouk made my mouth water the second I walked out the door and got into my car.

Also stacked onto this sandwich is mayo, melted string cheese, tomatoes and full peperoncinis wrapped up inside of fresh pita bread.

Not content with the supporting roles usually delegated to condiments, these ingredients not only highlight the strong flavor of the soujouk, but their distinct flavors stand out well on their own.

The melted string cheese is an interesting choice for this sandwich, but adds a very mellow flavor of cheese that works well with so many strong flavors fighting for the spotlight.

One of my favorite parts of this sandwich was biting into a whole peperoncini...well three of them actually. The spicy and mildly sour flavor that each one of those added was heaven to me. So if peperoncinis are not one of your favorite additions to your sandwich, make sure you let them know to leave a few off.

The pita bread was the only part of the sandwich that wasn't a superstar. It was a bit too thin and because of the rich ingredients, occasionally fell apart in my hands towards the end of each half. It wasn't terrible, but could have been a little better. I wonder how this sandwich would turn out between two slices of foccacia instead.

Maybe it's worth suggesting on my next visit.

Regardless, this is one of my favorite sandwiches in Los Angeles. You definitely need to check it out, or find an Armenian deli near you.

Until next week, Readers!

Soujouk Sandwich
**** Stars
11288 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Japanese Lessons

Hello again, dear Readers!

This week was a very special visit for The Danger Sandwich. After nearly four years of living in Los Angeles, I finally visited a hip and highly talked about burger joint.

I had been hearing about Umami Burger for quite some time, even from people outside of Los Angeles, but never was able to stop in. This weekend, I finally found the opportunity to table up and try one of their famously delicious burgers. But would this sandwich live up to the hype that had preceded it?

For those of you wondering, Umami is a Japanese loan word that means "savory". It is our fifth taste sense along with sour, salty, sweet, and bitter.

After my brief history lesson from the Internet, I took my time in perusing the menu. Finally, I decided not to take the traditional route and get a beef burger, but instead opted for the delicious sounding Carnitas Burger. Fresh Ground pork, house made carnitas, guajillo sauce, jalapeno sour cream, guacamole, and tortilla crisps round out this DANGERous adversary.

Let's start with the bread.

Sadly, the bun was neither good nor bad. I didn't notice too much flavor at all being contributed, and sometimes that's okay. Sometimes a good texture from the bread can really add to it. Not in this case though. It made me think of past sandwiches where the bread was delicious, functional, and truly umami.

The carnitas patty itself had a very mild taste which did not stand out like a savory beef burger would have. The problem with having a burger made from anything but beef is that you have to make sure the patty is thoroughly cooked.

This is not always a bad thing, but if not carefully watched, can easily lead to two problems: 1.) loss of flavor; and 2.) burnt outsides. The problem with this burger is that it suffered from both.

Through my eating experience, I tasted glimpses of how amazing the carnitas could have been if it had just been pulled off of the grill a moment or two earlier than it had. Maybe next time would be better.

The real winners here were the condiments added to the sandwich. The guajillo sauce is made from guajillo chillies and contributed a strong, flavorful pepper taste without providing too much heat. The sour cream was excellent, providing its distinct flavor with the bite of jalapenos.

Lastly, the tortilla strips were a perfect addition in both flavor and texture. It's always good, in my opinion, to have a nice crisp bite whether by lettuce leaf, potato chips, or crisp dill pickles to add an defining texture contrast to a burger.

All in all, it wasn't a bad burger.

But it could have been a lot better.

Don't let this deter you from Umami Burger though, as their selection seems very enticing. I know I'll be back again.

Until next week!

P.S. - in playing with the medium of internet blog, I've decided to start adding links to more in depth information in each blog. I can't always go as in depth with topics as I would like, so I will try to provide you with more information where I can. Thoughts?

Carnitas Burger
*** Stars
Umami Burger
4655 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Can The Streak Continue?

Welcome back, O Seekers of Danger!

Lately I have been on a record streak of WINNING sandwiches here (yes, I did it. Last Sheen reference for quite some time. Deal?) and this week's sandwich was no exception.

While strolling down Melrose Avenue late one Saturday afternoon I was informed that a spectacular sandwich shop was hiding a short distance away. Little did I know that this sandwich shop contained another of LA Magazine's 17 Best Sandwiches in LA.

It has been awhile since I've tackled another entry on this list of sandwich greats, but what better way to jump back into this list than to be taken by surprise?

All About The Bread is a tiny shop tucked into a strip of Melrose Ave, but what the shop lacks in size, it more than makes up for in flavor.

Every step of the way you are reminded that their Meatball Sandwich is among the city's greatest with numerous reviews posted, as well as the article from Los Angeles Magazine.

But does the Meatball Sandwich truly have what it takes to sit among the likes of Porto's Cubano or Bay Cities' Godmother?

To start, let me mention the bread.

Actually, let's just stop here before I make a fool of myself for being such a fanboy.

...No, I must continue! FOR YOU!

The bread is delicious. Readers, you all know how often I stress the importance of not only excellent taasting bread, but of the importance of pairing it with the right stuffing.

Well, this bread wins in every category. Freshly made in their ovens right before serving, this bread is a work of art. Golden and crisp with little bubbles pock marked across the outside, this bread is light, fluffy and warm on the inside. I would eat an entire roll by itself and still be incredibly happy.

But there's more.

The meatballs were so moist and savory with an amazing spicy kick to them. It didn't hit me at first, but after my second bite, i began to notice a bit of heat. They are so tender and the meat is incredibly savory, that I must say these may be the best meatballs I may have ever tasted.

The marinara sauce added its prominent flavor to the mix and contributed to the spiciness in the sandwich. There was enough of it applied to add to the flavor without drowning the meatballs in it or making the bread too soggy to eat.

Lastly, the cheese: Parmesan and Provolone melted together. At first, as you can see in the photos, it looks as if the cheese hadn't fully melted, but let me assure you all, it was a deliciously gooey companion to the rest of the sandwich. The smoky and savory flavor of the cheese perfectly combined with the zesty and spicy flavorings of the meat and sauce.

This sandwich was a true delight.

If you happen to need to settle the score with hunger while shopping along Melrose Ave, All About The Bread should be at the top of your list.

Until next week, Readers!

Meatball Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
All About The Bread
7111 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036