Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Taste Of Chicago

Greetings Readers!

You know, I've been to 30 states and 12 countries, but one city that I have never actually stepped foot in is Chicago.

I've passed through the state of Illinois on one of my road trips to the west coast, but never actually was able to stop in this gleaming metropolis, and for that I feel cheated.

Despite this, I still was intrigued upon hearing of a restaurant here in Burbank called Taste Chicago, offering authentic Chicago-style food (and all Cubs and Sox games for you fans). I was even more intrigued to find out that the restaurant was owned by Arlene Mantegna, wife of famous character actor Joe Mantegna.

I didn't get to hear the voice of The Simpsons' Fat Tony while I ate, but I was pleasantly surprised by the selection of food here: Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, Chicago-style hot dogs, and the sandwich that I settled on, the Hot Chicago-Style Italian Beef.

The sandwich was packed with this delicious, thinly sliced, tender and juicy roast beef into a flaky soft Italian roll and then seemingly dunked into a vat of gravy because this sandwich was soaked in it.

My first thought upon seeing that was that there was no way this roll would stay in one piece until the end of this sandwich, but I was proven wrong. Bite after bite, the bread stayed together even though it was practically soaked through. My sandwich tray had a significant collection of the dripping (enough to dip the sandwich back into) and still managed to stay together. Bravo.

To make my sandwich "hot" besides just the temperature, Taste Chicago added a relish of sorts containing giardiniera peppers and other vegetables. This was the perfect flavor contrast and the spicy cut of the relish went up against the mellow flavor of the beef.

All in all, I must say that if the actual city of Chicago can present delicious sandwiches as good as the ones at the Mantegnas Taste Chicago, I will be headed there soon enough...and multiple times.

Until next week, Readers!

**** Stars
Italian Beef Sandwich (Hot)
Taste Chicago
603 N. Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Delicious Combinations

Hey Readers!

You ever sit and think sometimes how certain combinations come into existence?

Peanut Butter and Jelly? Milk and Cereal? Burger and Cheese?

Well this week while taking part in Mystery Beer Night at Good Microbrew, I had the Lagunitas Chicken Sandwich which combines buffalo chicken wings and sandwiches.

The thick chicken breasts were breaded, fried and covered in spicy buffalo wing sauce on a potato roll, topped with bleu cheese dressing.

The chicken was juicy, thickly cut and not too greasy. it also lacked the fried flavor that so often ruins fried chicken.

The buffalo wing sauce was also very spicy, but not too hot, and actually did have excellent flavor. I really do have a problem with making something too incredibly spicy for the heck of it. My tongue can be on fire from a hot sauce, but if it at least tastes good, or adds something to the flavor profile, I'll accept it.

It's when you make something so hot that you can't taste anything for days that makes no sense, and usually disqualifies a dish for me.

The bleu cheese dressing on top of the chicken also added an excellent flavor and heat contrast making this delightful sandwich with a lot of flavor depth.

I've stopped at Good Microbrew before and I've always enjoyed my time there, but this classic sports food, transformed into a sandwich, and with the addition of $3 mystery beers, makes this time so much better. This sandwich truly surpassed the name of its maker.

Until next week...

Lagunitas Chicken Sandwich
*** 1/2 Stars
Good Microbrew
3725 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Visit With Jersey Mike

Welcome back, dear Readers!

This week I took a little trip to Jersey.

Well, maybe just a place called Jersey Mike's whose cheesesteaks the locals have recommended to me numerous times before.

I figured, maybe I should try it and see if these Angelenos have any idea what they're talking about in the realm of cheesesteak science.

Heading out to Burbank, I arrived at Jersey Mike's and was greeted by something odd insider: A sign that said 'Parking For Dodgers Fans Only'.

Excuse me, but I'm fairly certain a sign like that in New Jersey would like end with your body being disposed of in the Pine Barrens (No idea what that is? Click here).

Despite the sight of this sign, I decided to give this authentic cheesesteak a try, and ordered the Big Kahuna, which has grilled onions and peppers, plus mushrooms, jalapenos and extra cheese.

Now as you Readers know by now, I've had some good experiences with cheesesteaks on the left coast, and I was hoping that this one would deliver, but I was sadly disappointed. While it was good, it wasn't great, and didn't stand out from the pack of contenders. The steak, jalapenos and mushrooms were tasty, for sure, but the problem was the cheese. There was just too much of it that it overpowered most of the flavor.

I did like that they heated the sandwich up and then wrapped it in foil before serving it. It sealed the bread up nicely and kept the insides nice and hot.

Overall though, this sandwich was somewhat of a disappointment. The locals here may like it because it's their only exposure to a true Philadelphia sandwich, but I would highly recommend a number of other places that would better serve your tastebuds.

Until next week Readers...

P.s. - What's on your favorite cheesesteak, and where do you get it from?

The Big Kahuna Cheesesteak
*** Stars
Jersey Mike's (various locations)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Night At The Ballpark

You know, Readers, you may be noticing a trend on the blog here.

I've been reviewing a lot of hot dogs/sausages recently, but I swear there is a good reason.

It's summertime.

And for me, summertime means two things: baseball and hot dogs.

Not surprisingly, this entry combines both of them, as I spent my Monday evening watching the Phillies beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

A cool summer evening, Roy "Doc" Halladay on the mound, a good rivaly, and lots of excitement. In this atmosphere at Chavez Ravine, the only thing missing is a legendary Dodger Dog, but for this blog, I don't do the mundane or even the "slightly-not-so-good-for-you" sandwiches, as you know.

For you, I optioned for the "Doyer Dog."

This footlong all-beef hot dog is grilled, and covered with chili, nacho cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, and onions.


This hot dog was the brainchild of someone who obviously loves ballpark food. This is the epitome of stomach destroying food that makes ballparks so special. Where else could you eat something like this and be able to write it off?

Eating this hot dog is an absolute mess. I had to avoid spilling one of its many condiments on my Chase Utley jersey throughout the challenge of eating it. I mean, first of all, how do you even start? It's not the easiest sandwich to handle.

That being said, this monstrosity of a sandwich is one that should be enjoyed not only by those visiting Dodger Stadium, but also anyone hosting a barbecue for the summer. So the next time you're at the supermarket, make sure you stock up on these extra ingredients, and enjoy your very own Doyer Dog in the comforts of your own home as the baseball season starts to heat up

Until next week, Readers...

Update: I also attended Tuesday night's game and again danced with the Doyer Dog. My stomach may not appreciate it, so I hope that you all understand that I put myself at great risk to bring you the best in sandwich reviews.

Also, shout out to Robert Grossman for hooking us up with tickets on Monday night. Thanks!

Doyer Dog
*** 1/2 Stars
Dodger Stadium
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Brewery Is The Place For Me

Dearest Sandwich Lovers:

There's something you may not know about me, over the past year and a half, I have become more and more interested and skilled in homebrewing.

That's right, I'll spend afternoons brewing in my kitchen as the scent of cooking grains fills the kitchen. Then I'll wait the four weeks it takes for the brew to be fully fermented and carbonated. Really nothing is better than drinking your own home made beer.

Keeping this in mind, I have been expanding my beer tasting to lesser known beers and locally produced craft brews. This desire to find better tasting beer has lead me to search out small breweries in the Los Angeles area. Recently I found the Bonaventure Brewing Co. and that's where this week's adventure begins.

Located in the historic Bonaventure Westin Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the BBC is a great little restaurant offering pub food and that up to 4 different craft beers, and a rotating fifth option.

For the beers I switched between an incredible Strawberry Blonde (with fresh and powerful strawberry flavor) and a standard Hefeweisse. Both of them were fresh, crisp and refreshing. The blonde was probably the best I've had in quite awhile.

But we're not here to just talk beer, this blog is all about sandwiches, and for this week's sandwich I had the Ahi Burger with wasabi mayo, arugula,tomatoes and onion rings on a wheat bun.

The burger itself was incredible. The Ahi patty was about an inch thick even after cooking and was full of flavor, without being too fishy. It was tender, juicy, and fell apart with every bite.

The wasabi mayo left a very light spicy wasabi flavor without being too hot or overpowering. The onion rings and arugula combined to add a crunchy contrast to the soft fish patty. the onion rings also weren't overfried or too over-powering in flavor. The wheat bun was fresh, and held together until the end.

But, did I say tomatoes? Isn't that a huge negative with sandwiches so far?

Usually, yes, but these tomatoes were not mealy at all. I even added them myself to the sandwich and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Overall, a most excellent sandwich.

So my dear readers, if you are in Los Angeles, I can highly recommend the Bonaventure Brewing Co. with their delicious hand crafted beer and delicious sandwiches.

But even if you're not in LA, I must recommend that you search out your own local microbrewery and support your local beermasters. And while you're at it, enjoy a great opub styled sandwich too.

Until next week...

Ahi Tuna Burger
**** 1/2 Stars
Bonaventure Brewing Co.
404 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Bonaventure Brewing Co.