Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Stroll through The Italian Market

Greetings, Readers!

This week, I am back in significantly warmer Los Angeles over the bitter cold that was Philadelphia last week.

During my week there, in between the snow storms, I visited the Italian Market with my family and stopped at Paesano's, a small sandwich shop tucked away on a quiet block of the market.

Despite its small size, this place is fairly well known. Recommended to me as well by the Philly Tourism Board, and visited by Bobby Flay and Anthony Bourdain, it was pretty obvious that this needed to be on my radar quite a bit earlier than it was.

Everything on the menu sounded amazing, and has a few choices for vegetarians, but the one that stood out to me the most was the Gustaio: House-made lamb sausage, sun-dried cherry mostarda, Gorgonzola spread, roasted fennel, and arugula.

This sandwich was excellent, but at first my taste buds were hit with conflicting flavors. The lamb sausage is delicious and very savory while the cherry mostarda hit with a definite sweetness that at first seemed so contradictory to the rest of the sandwich that it was...well, interesting. Each successive bite though allowed me to see how these two flavors blended so well together, giving a savory sandwich such bright spots and delicious contrast that it shone above many others before it.

The lamb sausage is delicious, did I mention that? Because it is. Seriously. It's amazing.

The arugula adds a great peppery flavor to the sandwich which was tied together in a delicious flatbread. Overall, the initial sweet/savory contrast may be intense for some, but I highly suggest you continue through and try this sandwich. It's honestly one of the best I've had in the nearly four years I've been writing this blog.

Thanks for the suggestions for Philly, more to come over the next few weeks.

Happy Holidays to all, I hope you get to enjoy many leftover sandwiches in the coming weeks.

Until next week...

**** 1/2 Stars
Paesano's Philly Style
1017 S. 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cold Nights on an Iron HIll

Greetings, Readers!

This week I am back in the frigid northeast city of Philadelphia. Not even 24 hours after I arrived, I was subjected to eight inches of snow, and 48 hours after that I was again subjected to about 6 more inches.

Your humble author is not built for these conditions anymore. Luckily though ,there are plenty of great sandwiches and beer to keep me motoring through the winter months here.

Only a few hours removed from my cross-country flight, I headed to one of the Iron Hill Brewery locations in Maple Shade, NJ. Their beer selection from in-house brews is impressive, but in the end I started with the Bourbon barrel-aged Old Quadfather. It's a thick, creamy dark Belgian beer with a strong bourbon flavor up front and great malt flavors on the back end. Definitely enjoyable, and at nearly 12%, you really only need one.

I went back and forth with the selection on food here since there were so many great options on the table. In the end though, I settled on the Blue Burger: an all-beef patty topped with gorgonzola cheese, bacon, cracked black pepper, lettuce and tomato. I had the patty cooked medium-rare so there was a warm pink center 

The burger was cooked well enough and had some good flavor, the problem was that it was too thin. Not Burger King or McDonald's thin, but when I head into a brewpub, I usually expect to have a hand-crafted patty of some thickness. It wasn't a bad base patty, but could have been better.

The gorgonzola added a bit of tangy, smooth flavor on top of the burger, and the bacon was strong in flavor and crispy, but not too crispy either. A delicious middle ground of bacon.

The black pepper crust added some bite to the burger and the lettuce and tomato rounded out the flavors with contrasting lightness and crispness. The bun though was nothing special really. It did its job of holding the sandwich together, but that was about it.

Overall, the visit to Iron Hill Brewery was a good one. the beer was excellent (I even bought a full bottle of their Russian Imperial Stout for later) and their food was great, even with the burger being a bit of a let down. I wouldn't let that keep me from coming back again though and trying something else on their extensive menu, I'm sure there are many things of note there.

Until next week, Readers...

Blue Burger
*** 1/2 Stars
Iron Hill Brewery
Multiple Locations

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Post-Thanksgiving Recovery

Greetings, Readers!

Hopefully you had a great Thanksgiving with family and/or friends and ate plenty of delicious food. I think one of my favorite aspects about the food on this holiday is the absolute variety and styles that come together, especially when friends and family members bring their own contributions to the table.

Oh, and the pies. Definitely the pies.

After the night is over though, I look forward to the days of leftover turkey and reheated mashed potatoes and stuffing. Here on a sandwich blog though, wouldn't it be good to craft a delicious sandwich to enjoy?

So here we go. Here's what I enjoy as a sandwich in the days after this holiday of eating and thanks.

I like to take a thick cut bread, something with a bit of heft to it. Sourdough is a good one to contrast a lot of the savory flavors in the sandwich, as long as you can slice it yourself so that it's thick enough to stand up to what we're about to put on it. Lightly butter what will be the outside of the sandwich and place both slices on a baking tray. Preheat to 400 degrees.

I take some mashed potatoes and spread it on one slice of one of the pieces of bread. Then I will pile on slices of dark meat turkey (add whichever type you'd like though) and stuffing. If you'd like top top that off with some thicker gravy, that would be a great addition too. I would suggest for the first few minutes in the oven that you keep the top slice of bread off so that the interior ingredients can cook faster. After a few minutes, put the top slice on and press down.

Ovens may vary, so just keep an eye on the sandwich but definitely less than ten minutes. You want nice warm ingredients and toasty bread. If the ingredients aren't as warm as you like, you might want to try to warm them a bit before crafting the sandwich.

Cranberry sauce can be added, but I suggest doing it after the sandwich has been cooked, either as a side or a cool contrast to the sandwich on top. Sweet potatoes can also be used if you'd like a slightly sweet contrast on the sandwich as compared to the savory main course ingredients.

Grab a crisp winter-style beer for the side too. Something like my new favorite Jubelale by Deschutes Brewery or Anchor Brewing's Christmas Ale.

So readers, that's my idea of a delicious leftover Thanksgiving sandwich. What's yours?

Until next week...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's Truffle Season

Greetings, Readers!

I am back after taking last week off to concentrate on my NaNoWriMo novel, which I can happily reveal I have hit the minimum goal for the month. In order to celebrate this achievement, last night I went to dinner at Umami Burger in Burbank.

Some of my long term readers may remember that I visited Umami in Los Feliz before (nearly three years ago!) but ever since this new location opened in Burbank, I've been intrigued to return mainly since there is a twist at this location.

This new Umami converted the old Papoo's Hot Dog Show that has stood on this location since 1949. Directly across from the original Bob's Big Boy and the exceptional Mo's, Umami has a lot of competition and history to stand up against.

Wanting to try the specialties of this location, I immediately settled on the Truffle Dog, a long hot dog topped with roasted garlic aioli, house truffle cheese, and truffle infused port onions. Obviously Umami was all in on the start of Truffle Season.

The hot dog had a smooth savory flavor with the casing giving a little bit of pop without being too difficult to bite down on. The garlic aioli and truffle cheese added to the savory umami flavor. The truffle infused port onions were fried and added a bit of crunch to the sandwich, while also adding to the umami flavor without the overpowering taste that onions in that quantity can bring to the table.

Looking back on my previous experience combined with this one, I think my only problem is with the bun. My initial run at Umami was sullied by the fact I wasn't a huge fan of the brioche bun, and that situation is the same with the hot dog. It isn't terrible, I'm just not a fan of Umami's brioche. It also wasn't as disappointing on the hot dog as it was with their burger son my previous trip.

Overall, the Truffle Dog is an enjoyable sandwich, and eating at this location is a great experience with excellent atmosphere in such a historic spot. With the option of trying the hot dogs, as well as their Burbank specialty burger, this location of Umami is the one to try if you haven't before, or if you're looking to try something new from this restaurant.

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow for all you Readers here in the States. What's your favorite way to take care of leftovers on Black Friday? Obviously I love a good ol' turkey and stuffing sandwich with cranberry spread on some thick toasted bread. Share your suggestions!

Until next week!

The Truffle Dog
Umami Burbank
4300 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sandwich Day!

Greetings, Readers!

Today is the the 295th birthday of Lord John Montagu, The 4th Earl of Sandwich, aka the man who my most favored thing in the world is named after.

Whether you believe the story that the modern sandwich was created by Lord Montagu during marathon gambling sessions or because he was so busy he wouldn't leave his desk to take a proper meal, enjoy a sandwich today and thank the Earl for his contribution to modern food.

What do you plan to eat tonight in celebration?

Until next week...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Regrets, I've Had A Few

Greetings, Readers!

I hope this past week finds you sandwiching well. I've been taking quite a bit of time in working on my novel for National Novel Writing Month and haven't had as much time to do sandwiching on my own, but all is well.

Or is it?

The problem is that, even had I actually gotten out to have another sandwich, one recent stop left such a sour taste in my mouth that I thought I would give it a quick mention in regards of what most sandwich places should really try to avoid.

Frozen burger patties. Flat, lifeless burger patties. And even worse, the combination of both.

Having stopped between drinks at The Bruery, I was reminded again that the combination of the two is horrific. If you're going to be an established restaurant, and you're not trying to be McDonalds or other fast food chains, don't use this atrocity of meat (if it really is even meat). If you're trying to be a restaurant that is a local, family owned hot spot, please go the extra mile and make a standout burger. The change in the patty on my melt could have made a huge difference.

As you can see in the photo above, even one slice of the bread is thicker than the patty itself.

While this visit (which will remain nameless, unless you ask) might have disappointed and really only served to act as a buffer for more Bruery beer, it did have one positive outcome in that it reminded me of places to avoid.

Until next week, Readers!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm Hook'd On You

Greetings, Readers!

This past week, I was able to get out to one place that I've always wanted to get to in southern California. It didn't have sandwiches, but it did have some of my favorite beers on record. This magical land of science was The Bruery.

The beer was magical, but the sandwich that Bryan (@818NewGuy) and I had between brewery tour tastings and our taster flights was nearly forgettable. So let's not talk about it and allow it to sully the delicious beer we tasted.

If you'v never tried their beer, you should. I had this amazing one named Windowsill which had raspberry, rhubarb and biscuit notes, made to emulate a raspberry rhubarb pie. Delicious.

The following day though, I visited Hook Burger in Burbank. I had previously visited Hook Burger with Bryan while touring Burbank for burgers. It had come on a day where we had done 3 prior to arriving at Hook, so I didn't actually have a burger then, but just had a beer and tried to digest.

This time around I changed that.

Feeling the need for bacon, I ordered the Hickory Burger, a patty of lean beef is topped with thick cut bacon, Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, homemade crispy onion strips, lettuce, tomato, onions and my choice of blue cheese.

As you can see in the photo, the burger is fairly tall, and required pressing it down in order to get your first bite. Despite this though, the burger patty itself is relatively small. It tastes great, but I would definitely have preferred something thicker.

The funky blue cheese and smoky bacon worked very well together, and I can highly recommend this combination. The added smoke and tang of the BBQ sauce only adds to the flavor sensations. The lettuce and grilled onions added a crispness to contrast the burger and the soft bun.

Speaking of the bun though, while it did have a nice light flavor to contribute to the sandwich, it fell apart fairly quickly. Halfway through this sandwich and I was mostly gripping lettuce shreds and bacon.

Combined with a pint of Green Flash IPA, this was definitely an enjoyable burger for a cool Sunday afternoon. While not my favorite burger in Burbank, it definitely has its plus side. If you happen to be around a Hook Burger, you wouldn't be disappointed with this quality go-to.

Until next week, Readers!

P.S. - I'll be tweeting progress on my National Novel Writing Month experience throughout November, but you can get a quick glance of my progress off in the right hand column here on the blog. Here's to my first novel!

Hickory Burger
*** 1/2 Stars
Hook Burger
1731 N. Victory Place
Burbank, CA 91506

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Big Bear, Big Sandwiches

Greetings, Readers!

As much as I love sandwiching here in Los Angeles, it is always fantastic to get out of the city and enjoy sandwiches in other locales.

Mostly, I've sandwiched in other major metropolitan areas but this past weekend I was lucky enough to not only enjoy the clean air of the mountains near Big Bear, but also enjoy a sandwich from a local deli nearby.

Heading up to Big Bear with friends for their annual Oktoberfest celebration, I wanted to do a bit of research beforehand so that I could find a highly rated local sandwich shop to visit. After reviewing quite a few, and needing to find one that was dog friendly, Bear Belly Deli and Cafe immediately shone through as a standout.

Off the main road that runs through Big Bear, this shop has a wide selection of classic deli sandwiches as well as create-your-own options. While the Reuben originally caught my eye, the John sandwich quickly took center stage and became my choice.

The John is stacked high with pastrami, and is topped with pepper jack cheese, Dijon mustard, pickle chips, chopped pepperoncinis and grilled onions on a grilled sourdough.

The sandwich, as well as the ingredients list, is quite the mouthful, but the combination works.

And works incredibly well.

To start, the pastrami is tender, juicy, well seasoned, and at no point was it chewy or fatty. This is some of the best prepared pastrami I have had in quite a long time. The pepper jack cheese was only on the top of the ingredients, but was melted so thoroughly that it permeated the entire sandwich.

The added pickle chips, pepperoncinis and grilled onions complemented the meat and cheese excellently. While the pastrami had the tender bite and smoky flavor, the added vegetables brought the crunch and tangy heat. As much as I love the flavor of pickles and peppers, there was just enough on this sandwich as it avoided becoming too overpowering compared to the other ingredients.

The sourdough bread was lightly grilled and gave a bit of a crunch without becoming too much like toasted bread. The sour flavor of the bread with the smoke added by grilling fit in perfectly. Even with all of these ingredients, it stayed together until the end as well.

Overall, this was an excellent stop for anyone to make if you're in the vicinity of Big Bear Lake, and is a place that will definitely become a yearly stop of my own every year that I return.

Until next week, Readers...

The John Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
Bear Belly Deli and Cafe
42530 Moonridge Rd.
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Little Pigs...Made Up A Sandwich

Greetings, Readers!

Having visitors come to Los Angeles is always a great excuse to use for actively seeking a new sandwich shop.

My sister was in town recently, and after a visit to the Rose Bowl Flea Market we all headed to Alhambra to the 38 Degrees Alehouse and Grill.

Besides having an incredibly tantalizing menu, the other reason for visiting 38 Degrees was their nearly overwhelming list of beers on tap and in bottles. Having visited near the end of one of their tap cycles, a few beers that I had originally picked were actually out of stock, but eventually I was able to get my lips on a glass of Stone Brewing Co.'s Grapefruit Slam. It's a delicious, highly-hopped beer with a taste of grapefruit that complements the hops perfectly. If you like IPAs, this is a beer you must try.

As for the sandwich, let's face facts here, how could I not pick something called Menage a Pork?

I know, I've mentioned recently about doing an entire month of just vegan or vegetarian sandwiches, and I promise that's still on track. I just have more planning and research to do. So for the time being...pork.

Did I mention this sandwich was also called Menage a Pork? I think I did, but I wanted to say that again. Composed of ground pork and chorizo, the thick patty is topped with pepper jack cheese, chipotle aioli, baby arugula, and bacon jam.


There are a variety of different flavors going on in each bite of this sandwich. The  chorizo and pork patty is delicious and juicy, with the chorizo adding a bit of spice to the sandwich. The chipotle aioli adds more of a mild spicy flavor to the mix while the baby arugula adds the contrast of greens with a peppery bite.

The bacon jam is delicious but also an interesting experience. It's a little sweet, but at the same time you get the crunch from bacon bits and the usual smoky bite of bacon. It's an amazing, and surprising, addition to the sandwich and makes me wonder what other sandwiches it would serve as a good match for.

Regardless of bacon jam's other applications, it works wonderfully well with this sandwich and elevates the Menage a Pork to one of my favorite pork sandwiches. Ever.

If you happen to be out in Alhambra to visit 38 Degrees, it might be worth your time to stop by Banh Mi My Tho which is only a few minutes away. I reviewed their Banh Mi back in September of 2010, and it is still ranked as one of my favorite Banh Mi sandwiches. Though you could always try 38 Degrees' Boar Banh Mi, which will be my next sandwich here.

Alhambra is now easily shaping up to be one of my favorite sandwich areas in all of Los Angeles. So make sure you take the time to visit this area for its delicious sandwich offerings.

Before I wrap up this week's blog, I'd also like to mention a new addition to the blog for the time being. In the right hand column of the blog I've not only added my twitter feed (Follow me for frequent sandwich updates) but I've also added a widget tracking my National Novel Writing Month progress. Whether it is about sandwiches or not, check out my progress each week and keep the high fives coming so I make it to the 50,000 word count goal.

Until next week, Readers...

Menage a Pork
***** Stars
38 Degrees Ale House and Grill
100 W. Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Strawberry Sunday

Greetings, Readers!

I write this while anxiously awaiting the first rain of the season here in Los Angeles. Thoughts of tomato soup, a hearty grilled cheese sandwich, and a heavy porter are already swimming in my head.

Hello, Fall.

This past weekend was gorgeous though. Still a little warm, but significantly cooler than previous weeks, I headed out to the Glendale Americana and tucked behind a fancy, high-end restaurant I found an excellent sandwiching stop: Deluca's Italian Deli.

Deluca's has a number of delicious sandwiches listed on their ceiling-high chalkboard menu just inside the door. While the pastrami sandwich really caught my eye at first, I soon changed directions completely and settled on a lighter, more refreshing sounding, special menu option: The Strawberry Blondie.

Between two slices of toasted whole wheat bread, the Blondie is made up of baby spinach, balsamic marinated strawberries, truffle cheese, and sliced turkey breast with a side of balsamic honey dipping sauce.

A refreshing change from the hearty burgers and meaty sandwiches I've been having lately.

The roasted turkey breast and thick layer of truffle cheese lent a smoky quality to the sandwich which contrasted with the sweet strawberries on top. While the strawberries did keep most of their natural flavor and sweetness, having been marinated in a balsamic helps cut the strawberries short of being too sweet. A definite bonus.

The spinach didn't come through on every bite of the sandwich, but that's not exactly a negative. While it's always good to have some delicious greens added, the competing flavors of smoky and sweet were enjoyable enough that the spinach flavor wasn't entirely missed.

Overall, this sandwich was an excellent find, and one that I hope is still on the menu the next time I'm near the Americana. Check it out if you're in the area.

On another note, thank you all for your suggestions recently on vegetarian and vegan sandwich ideas. Keep them coming, as I'm still trying to put together a meat-free sandwich list to try to take on in the coming months.

Until next time, Readers...

Strawberry Blondie
**** 1/2 Stars
Deluca's Italian Deli
889 Americana Way
Glendale, CA

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Heading Off On A No-Meat Journey

Greetings, Readers!

As I mentioned on Twitter lately (if you're not following me, click here) I'm really looking to plan an entire month where I delve into vegan and vegetarian sandwiches.

It's not just a health thing (although I'm sure my bacon drenched arteries wouldn't mind a break) but it's really about exploring all of the options available to sandwich loves like me.

Plus, apparently quite a few of you follow the vegan or vegetarian lifestyles and despite my descriptions of meat-filled sandwiches, you still have not wavered in your dedication. To that, I applaud you.

To start, I love the earthy flavor of sprouts (usually on a burger) and of course I love any type of mushroom, especially portabella, but I haven't really grasped onto tofu. Maybe it's because I haven't tried your favorite spot which makes it best, or maybe it's because we'll never get along like I do with meat. This is the way I'm going to figure that out.

This is not to say that I've never eaten a sandwich without some sort of animal product, it's just that It hasn't happened lately, and if I have it's because I'm looking for something different, not something in particular.

So, because of that, I am reaching out to you this week. Let's start a conversation below about your favorite vegetarian or vegan sandwiches, or even restaurants, so that I can add them to my massive list of places to try, and send me on my way on this no-meat journey.

Until next week, Readers.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So Long Summer

Greetings, Readers.

Last week I finally put the lid on summer the best way I knew how: A hot dog from a nearby hot dog cart.

As the cool wind picked up outside of the studio, and the sun was hidden behind the dark clouds of oncoming fall, I thought back to the past few months of sandwiching.

Burgering a plenty had happened, usually followed by light and heat-quenching beers to wash those sandwiches down.

Sure, I could continue doing that year round if I wanted, but like the two (one and a half?) seasons that we have here in Los Angeles, this sandwich was the symbol of moving on into different territory.

For the time being.

I've constantly walked past this hot dog cart on the CBS Radford lot here in Studio City. Every time I passed, I'd smell the grilling of hot dogs and sausages and the salty and brined ingredients sitting nearby. Ever time I passed, I'd say "Next time. For sure."

Six months later, I was finally sitting next to the cart, enjoying this Chicago style hot dog, topped with a pickle, yellow mustard, chopped onions, tomatoes, sweet relish, pickled peppers, and a dose of celery salt.

The smoky grilled hot dog combined with the salty, bitter, peppery and sweet ingredients in a way that pulled your taste buds in so many different directions at the same time that I couldn't keep track of when one sensation started and ended.

The ingredients were incredibly fresh too, adding a notable crunch to contrast with the fluffy white hot dog bun and the slight pop of each bite of the hot dog itself. Poppy seeds also jumped into the mix by adding a slight flavor as the bun was covered in them.

Overall, this was a great hot dog, and an excellent way to say goodbye to Summer as the Autumn winds started to kick up.

So, Readers, what do you like to top your hot dogs with?

And have you ever heard of a Danger Dog? Looks like I have a new sandwich to start seeking out in the months to come.

Until next week, Readers...


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Morning After...Deliciousness.

Greetings, Readers!

I was wondering to myself this morning: if I had unlimited money and time, would I be able to eat every sandwich that I'd like to try on my list?

Would I live much longer at all if I even tried that?

I thought of this because after brewing a new batch of beer this past weekend, I headed to Stout Burgers & Beers in Studio City on a double date to catch up with some friends.

I had reviewed the Stout Burger on a previous visit to the Studio City location nearly a year ago and much has changed since then, notably my burger adventuring of the past 4 months. I've had a lot of different types of burgers since then, so could another one from Stout Burgers & Beer hold up to the standard that I've created over that time.

I settled on the Morning After Burger, mostly because of my bacon addition but also because of my new favorite burger topping: egg. The delicious beef patty was topped with rosemary bacon, melted aged cheddar, chipotle ketchup and the above-mentioned over-easy egg.

The beef patty, freshly ground and formed each day in house, was wonderful: full beef flavor that permeated through all of the added ingredients. The bacon was crisp and delicious. The chipotle ketchup added some spicy and sweet flavors to the burger which contrasted with the smooth aged cheddar flavor that shone through.

The yolk of the egg was still a little runny, so on the first bite the rest of the burger was covered with it, providing a great complementary flavor to the rest of the burger. Seriously, if you've never had egg on your burger before, start with The Morning After.

You'll never go back.

In the end, I may not have visited somewhere new, but tasting a new burger is a great experience in itself. Especially when it is as good as The Morning After.

As a side note, the menu recommends pairing this with any of the pale ales they have in house, and I would totally agree with that. Despite agreeing though, I settled on an Elder Brett by Epic Brewing. A refreshing, slightly sour ale that is great in any situation.

Until next week, Readers...

The Morning After
***** Stars
Stout Burgers & Beer
11262 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Hills Are Alive... With The Sounds of Sizzling

Greetings, Readers!

Finally here in Los Angeles we've seen a break in our high temperatures. While I understand it's still technically summer, I admit I'm quite glad that the temperature is showing signs of changing as we head towards a season that acts like fall is supposed to act.

Looking back over the past few months though, I see I've gotten around to quite a lot of places, burgers joints especially. I actually hit even more places than I had written about and elected to skip over a few at the time. Recently, I had been thinking of one place that I skipped reviewing that I wanted to share with you now.

DeBell's Golf Club is located up a steep road into the hills in Burbank, which gives the Clubhouse Grill an excellent view out over this part of the valley. While Bryan (@818NewGuy) and I had gone on a relatively cloudy day, I imagine on a clear sunny day you can see fairly far.

The Clubhouse Grill is a swank little rest area for golfers between rounds, with a bar as well. Sitting down near one of the windows with a view, we looked at the menu and settled on the basic cheeseburger.

"The Best In Town" it said.

"Oh, really?" we said.

At the top of the burger section on the menu, DeBell's Clubhouse Grill proudly states that their burger patties are freshly ground and handmade on site, and topped with their own special sauce. Along with that, the cheeseburger comes with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and grilled onions.

The patty was grilled well and had decent flavor, but the other ingredients didn't add much to the burger at all. The grilled onions were a bit tough and the American cheese, while melted well enough, didn't add much in the way of flavor. The burger could have been helped a bit with a more flavorful cheese, even something as simple as cheddar. Overall, this burger was not even close to the "best in town", but the experience as always was enjoyable.

Getting out of the city, without actually getting out of the city, made the trip worthwhile. Sometimes the sandwiches I research may fall short, but there usually is at least one redeeming factor. If you're looking for a new place to get away to, even just to have a drink, it might be worth trekking into the hills to visit the Clubhouse Grill.

Just don't feel pressured into buying the burger.

Until next week, Readers...

The Clubhouse Cheeseburger
*** Stars
DeBell Golf Club Clubhouse Grill
1500 E. Walnut Ave
Burbank, CA

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Turning Up The Heat With Some BBQ

Greetings, Readers!

Hopefully you all had an excellent Labor Day weekend of pool parties, relaxing, and barbecues.

And maybe a little less heat and humidity than us here in Los Angeles.

It's a rare day indeed when escaping north to Santa Clarita means a break from the stifling heat that was in LA, but this past weekend I went to meet with my friend Justin for a day of comic booking and sandwiching in his hometown.

With the Labor Day holiday in mind, we headed to Rattler's Bar B Cue, a local restaurant with a deep love of good, home-cooked barbecue food.

Everything on the menu looked appealing and I even originally thought I would order a plate of Tri Tip instead of a sandwich, but I finally settled on a good ol' BBQ standard: a Pulled Pork Sandwich.

The thin strands of pork were so incredibly tender and juicy that every bite just melted in your mouth. The barbecue sauce added was exceptionally flavorful with contributions of smoky and tangy flavors. You can tell good barbecue when there is a wide range of flavors attacking your taste buds. Hidden beneath the smoky and tangy flavors, there were light sensations of sweet and spice as well. All blended together for an excellent experience..

Every table is also equipped with a jar of more barbecue sauce that can be used to douse anything you want. In my case, the Fire Fries were covered in the sauce, as well as my sandwich halves.

Let's be honest with ourselves: you can really never have enough barbecue flavoring, right?

I also ordered the sandwich Southern Style, which included a helping of sweet cole slaw on top of the piled-high pulled pork. The crunchy and sweet slaw contrasted well with the tender and smoky pork to create a wonderful experience of competing flavors. I'm sure the sandwich tastes well enough without it, but the addition of cole slaw makes it top notch.

While the French bread roll isn't anything to write home about, it did stay together well until the end, and was an excellent tool to soak up more of the table-side barbecue sauce.

The Fire Fries also come as advertised. I had imagined some spice would accompany this side because of the name, but I was fairly surprised by how much heat each fry provided. If you plan on eating the entire side, I recommend that you be someone who truly enjoys some heat.

Overall, my experience at Rattler's was an incredibly enjoyable one. The meal was top notch BBQ, and the delicious table side garlic rolls and drinks in mason jars added to the enjoyment of the meal.

So that was my Labor Day sandwiching adventure with delicious barbecue. What sandwiches did you have at barbecues this holiday weekend?

Until next week, Readers...

Pulled Pork Sandwich
**** Stars
Rattler's Bar B Cue
26495 Golden Valley Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91351

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Summer of Burgers Continues...

Greetings, Readers!

Were you aware that yesterday in the UK was National Burger Day? Well, what better way to honor that wonderful holiday than by having a burger at a local Scottish-inspired pub?

It's been quite some time since I first heard about The Morrison LA in Atwater Village.  So when asked where to have a double date with friends, this place immediately had popped in mind.

How fitting that it should happen so close to a nationally recognized celebration of the Burger in the UK.

Each month, The Morrison LA has a different specialty burger on their menu. After perusing their incredible beer list, my eyes were immediately drawn to the monthly specials section. That's when I knew what I was going to be ordering.

The Blue Cheese Bourbonator is a testament to the greatness of the burger. A thick six-ounce brisket and ground chuck patty is topped with Stilton blue cheese, bourbon caramelized onion, bacon jam and garlic aioli. You can also add a side shot of buffalo trace bourbon to complete the experience.

Yes, all of those things.

The brisket and chuck patty was delicious. A smooth flavored, juicy patty with a somewhat smoky flavor that paired well with the Stilton blue cheese which offered its own slightly pungent flavor. The bourbon onions contributed a smoky tang along with the delicious bacon jam. The garlic aioli added a flavor contrast that was welcomed with all of the smoky flavor.

Despite the juicy burger patty, and the copious amounts of other ingredients, the bun held together quite well until the end. Contrasting the smoky and tangy flavors of this sandwich, the bun also added a slightly sweet flavor enveloping the burger.

This burger is a treat for your tastebuds that you will want to revisit again and again.

For those that get there before the end of the week and are looking for a less meat-intense option, there is the veggie option of the Atwater Burger which has a quinoa based patty.

Overall, The Morrison LA is a great place. The other food options all seem mouthwatering as well, and their beer selection offers great options in numerous different styles. Even their dessert options are great, which, by the way, try the bread pudding. It's fantastic.

Frankly though, as far as this burger goes, it's one of the best I've had.

Long after finishing it, the Blue Cheese Bourbonator came back to my mind and tastebud memory. It's only available for a short time at The Morrison LA, so if it sounds appealing to you (and why wouldn't it be?) I highly suggest you head down there as soon as you possibly can.

You will not be disappointed.

Until next week, Readers...

The Blue Cheese Bourbonator
***** Stars
The Morrison LA
3179 Los Feliz Boulvard
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fast Food and Guilty Pleasures

Greetings, Readers!

You know, last week's blog entry on In N Out Burger had me thinking about fast food in general here in California. I had some other sandwiches I planned to review, but this was a topic that stayed on my mind since last week.

Sure, we've got the Big 3 fast food burger spots here, but there is a wealth of fast food restaurants in the area that I would easily place above them, if I were in the mood for fast food.

With how many amazing spots there are in Los Angeles for great non-fast food sandwiches, this isn't often, but it occasionally does happen.

So let's take a look at a few of my favorites that are well known for being out west.

Jack In The Box: With commercials featuring their lovable "CEO" Jack, this fast food chain isn't as far out with their menus as the next two entries, but does feature some oddball items. Also, like the next two fast food spots, the calorie count for some of their items will absolutely make your eyes bulge. When I feel like slumming it food-wise, I'm a big fan of the Sourdough Jack, one beef patty, copious bacon pieces and Swiss cheese on toasted sourdough bread. It's sloppy and it's not something I would normally recommend, but we all have our guilty pleasures. Oh, and for my Philly readers, their Philly Cheesesteak sandwich commercials are both insulting and hilarious.

Carl's Jr: With its sibling chain Hardee's back east, this chain is known for some ridiculously large portion sizes as well as wild commercials, usually employing celebrities or very attractive models to show off their food (for example, this one). Along with Jack In The Box, this is another caloric overload of a meal, but in general the meat is a step above the rest in flavor. Right now, their newest burger is the Buffalo Blue Cheese Burger, which you can wash down with a gut busting Shake, and even a strawberry Pop Tart ice cream sandwich after.

Sonic: This OKC based company has been expanding in recent years, and its closest location is in Orange County, but that hasn't stopped the commercials from being on LA television multiple times an hour. The food here can border on the ridiculous like Carl's Jr., and it even had one of the worst burgers as named by Men's Health magazine. Sonic is also known for their huge hot dog selection.

And so now that my guilty pleasures of fast food are out in the open, join me in revealing your favorite spots to slum it up with fast food. Next week, I promise we'll move back into some of the better sandwiches of the area.

Until then, Readers...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dinner, Animal Style

Greetings, Readers.

Recently, I had been going through my catalog of reviews and noticed one glaring error. One especially glaring error since I live in southern California, the birthplace of many fast food joints.

So, Readers, let's talk about In N Out Burger.

If you don't live out west, you've probably heard of this fast food chain that started in 1948. Whether from its references in The Big Lebowski or from the whispered rumors of a "secret menu" (all of which are totally true...or mostly), In N Out is a western staple of fast food.

When approaching the counter, the menu is deceptively simple: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger, fries and either soft drinks or shakes. This is where you can start to get creative. Would you like a "3 by 3" (3 patties, three slices of cheese)? Or how about "Protein Style" (a burger with lettuce leaves in place of the bun)?

Then of course, there's  "Animal Style" where you get an extra dose of sauce and grilled onions on top of the patty.

For this time, and pretty much every time I go, I ordered a single cheeseburger, Animal Style, with Animal Style fries and I swapped my soft drink out for a chocolate shake. The ingredients arrive to each In N Out location fresh and aren't stored at the locations under heat lamps or in freezers. They're fresh in and fresh out, which means that their flavor is much better than your regular run-of-the-mill fast food location.

The patties, while on the thin side compared to other chains, burst with flavor, and the fresh lettuce provides a lively crispness to the sandwich. The American cheese and Animal Style addition add a nice mellow flavor the round out the sandwich.

Oh, and for you newbies, the fries are freshly made at each location. A potato goes into a small fry maker, a handle is pulled, and fresh-cut fries shoot out.

And don't forget the chocolate shakes. Made with real ice cream, these are definitely the best shakes you can get from a fast food location, so don't miss out on them.

All in all people, if you're out West and you're looking to try a fast food location, you can't go wrong with In N Out Burger. The fresh ingredients and great flavors make this a can't miss food tour stop in Southern California.

If you've had In N Out Burger before, Readers, what's your usual order?

Until next week...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An Argentine Afternoon

Greetings, Readers!

You know, besides being able to find delicious sandwiches where ever I go, this blog serves a few other purposes for me (and hopefully inspires you to do the same).

The first reason behind this blog is to discover new places in my area, to see more than my usual favorites. Secondly, this blog thoroughly serves as a way to catch up with friends who I may not normally see.

Over the past year especially, I am asked by numerous friends to join me on a sandwich outing, which adds to the enjoyment of the day. Recently I was able to accomplish both of these purposes on one trip when meeting a friend at Lala's Argentine grill in Studio City.

I've eaten at Lala's years ago, but did not have any of their sandwiches, and if you're not in the mood for one of those options (why wouldn't you be though?), the other food is excellent.

Especially anything with chimichurri sauce. Seriously.

Looking at the sandwich options this time, I opted for the Picante Chicken Sandwich. The Picante is a simple sandwich, grilled chicken breast, lettuce, tomato and Argentine sauce, but is very delicious.

The grilled chicken breast was thin, juicy and a bit spicy along with a slight smoky flavor from being grilled. The lettuce and tomato added both a crispness and freshness to the sandwich, and the Argentine sauce added a bit of tangy flavor to contrast the rest of the sandwich. Overall, an enjoyable sandwich for a warm summer day, and a nice contrast to all of the red meat I've been eating lately.

My only complain through was the bread. While it did hold together until the end, it didn't add much to the sandwich in flavor or texture and was immediately forgettable. Ah well, they can't all be perfect, right?

So that's it for this week, Readers. Have you found your new favorite summer sandwich, or enjoyed a sandwich recently with friends? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Until next week, Readers!

Picante Chicken Sandwich
**** Stars
11935 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Delicious Aroma

Greetings, Readers.

If you haven't noticed by now, Los Angeles has a fairly large selection of delicious sandwiches. Despite the wide-ranging options throughout this massive city, it's sometimes the ones that are closest that can be the most memorable.

It's been awhile since I've been to Aroma Cafe in Studio City, which is a shame as this quaint coffee and tea shop nestled away on a quiet street is a great place to enjoy food and conversation.

Settling down this time in the garden patio in back, I ordered the Chipotle Steak Panino. Medium cooked chopped roast beef, aged cheddar, caramelized onions and horseradish aioli combine to create this sandwich between two fluffy slices of focaccia bread.

The chopped steak was juicy, but did not have an overpowering flavor compared to the other ingredients. The choice of aged cheddar worked well with the steak, contributing a mellowed smoky flavor to the sandwich. My main problem with the cheese though was that for a hot sandwich, it wasn't really melted well at all. If it had been melty and oozed between slices of steak, this would have worked much better.

The caramelized onions and horseradish aioli brought a bit of bite and spice to the mix which was a welcome contrast from the mellow and smoky flavors or the cheese and steak.

The focaccia bread was fluffy and soaked up some of the steak juices in the process, but I really would have like to have a bit of rosemary crusted onto the top, to give the bread itself more of a contributing flavor.

Overall though, this was an enjoyable sandwich at an enjoyable location. Definitely worth your visit if you have never been to Aroma Cafe before.

Until next week, Readers...

Chipotle Steak Panino
*** 1/2 Stars
Aroma Cafe
4360 Tujunga Ave.
Studio City, CA 91604

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get In My Beer Belly

Greetings, Readers!

This past week was a time for catching up with old friends and trying new foods. I recently met up with an old friend who was passing through LA for lunch. After trying to figure out a good place to meet, we settled on a place that has always been on my checklist: Beer Belly.

This is a place that's been on my radar for quite some time. I've read about Beer Belly on numerous blogs and LA weekly, and it's been mentioned to me by a number of people, so what better time to finally check it off my list?

First of all, their beer selection is excellent, though you should know that they have more beer than their chalkboard notes at the bar. I didn't realize this until we were paying the bill, but there is a whole list on one of the menu cards of canned beer. Definitely give it a look as the Maui Brewing Bikini Blonde would do well with many options on the food menu.

Speaking of the food menu, everything listed looks amazing. After taking my time, I decided on getting an order of pork belly chips (deep fried pork belly) to start, and the continued on this food journey with the Duck French Dip.

I've done the fresh dip before in a few places, especially LA's famous Cole's and Phillipe's which were both delicious, but I had never done one composed of duck meat before. Loaded with sage roasted shredded duck, and topped with provolone and horseradish aioli, with duck au jus on the side, this sandwich was excellent.

The duck was cooked just right so that it melted in your mouth with every bite. The provolone added a mellow and smoky gooeyness to the sandwich that contrasted with the sometimes sweet duck and the spicy horseradish aioli. The French roll was also a little crisp on the outside, but warm and fluffy on the inside and held together until the end, even with all of the dipping.

And speaking of the dipping sauce, the lightly flavored duck au jus brought out even more of the duck flavor in the sandwich. Overall, an excellent example of a French dip sandwich, and an excellent meal in general.

So, I can confirm that the word on the street about Beer Belly is true. If you're in LA, or for some reason in Koreatown, you definitely have to make a stop here for this sandwich and their beer selection. It's another great example of superb sandwiching here in SoCal.

Until next week, Readers...

The Duck French Dip
**** Stars
Beer Belly
532 S. Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Robots. Monsters. Burgers.

Greetings, Readers!

You know how I love sandwiches. You know how I love baseball. Now it's time you find out another love of mine: Giant robots punching things.

It doesn't matter what they punch, but if it's in the middle of a major metropolitan area with some sort of equally tall enemy, I'm all about it. Throw in collateral damage and people running away from said enemies and you have a winner.

Hence, my love of Pacific Rim.

Recently, while out with close friends, we decided to have dinner downtown at the Yard House before seeing Punchfest 2013. There are a number of states with a Yard House location, so you should definitely see if one is near you.

First of all, the beer menu here is massive. For a beer fan like myself (add that to the list of 'likes') it was almost overwhelming. Would I start with an IPA? A Blonde? Or something heavier?

I decided to go with some Belgian Quads, specifically Gulden Draak 9000, a delicious beer to have, but make sure not to have more than one as these are especially strong beers. To accompany the strong and syrupy flavors of the quad, I settled on the Pepper Crusted Gorgonzola Burger.

But don't get me wrong, the burgers are not the only things that look great on the menu. Everything looks delicious.

The pepper crusted, medium cooked burger comes topped with Marsala sauteed crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, baby spinach and Gorgonzola cheese.

Battling against the strong flavor of the Belgian quad, the burger flavor shone through perfectly. The strong peppery crust and the aged cheese flavors had a lot of competition for my taste buds attention but complemented each other well.

The crimini mushrooms were cooked perfectly well as they still had a little bit of pop left with each bite. The baby spinach added some much needed green contrast to the sandwich with a slight flavor that was noticeable on occasion.

The bun also held together until the end and worked well with the sandwich. Fluffy, fresh and yet not prohibiting the flavors from the rest of the sandwich or taking away from the meal.

Overall, Yard House, you done well. Excellent sandwich and an excellent prequel to robots punching monster faces.

Have you seen Pacific Rim yet? Have you had an excellent sandwich since last week? Let me know in the comments.

Until next week...

Pepper Crusted Gorgonzola Burger
**** Stars
The Yard House
800 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Looking For The Next Big Thing

Greetings, Readers!

Now that my Burger Bonanza and trip to Japan are over, I've been starting to consider what the next step for the blog should be.

I've been doing the blog for over three years now and not wanting to let this blog go stale, I've been trying to think of new ways to spice it up, or keep it interesting for the years to come.

Should I tackle a new type of sandwich and see who does it best, or should I tackle a specific culture's wide variety of sandwiches (Cuban, Spanish, etc.)?

I always have my eyes out for the next great thing in sandwiching, but would love to hear your opinions as we take this sandwiching journey together.

Have you tried something recently that you think I should take on, or have you heard of something that I've never written about? I'd love to hear what you, my dear Readers, have been seeing on the streets.

Until next week...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Warm Nights, Hot Sandwiches

Greetings, Readers!

With the high temps in Los Angeles lately, it's pretty obvious that summer is here in full force. And as we all know, with summer comes one of the most American things of all time: Baseball.

Well, that and Apple Pie, but this isn't a pie blog. Sadly.

For those that have been reading this blog for quite some time, you may remember my review of the Dodger Dog which originally was a big undertaking, but still mildly enjoyable. Having the Dodger Dog again last year, it seems that ballpark management had decided to make the dog even more gargantuan with a bigger dose of toppings and doing away with the all-beef frank for a pork by-product.

It had become a complete mess, and was definitely less than appetizing.

Heading to the ballpark this past weekend to see Cliff Lee pitch against the Dodgers, I was looking for ballpark food to enjoy on a warm summer evening. Avoiding the Dodger Dog like the plague, I had noticed that the ballpark had a new option: The Big Blue Burger.

Of course with most food from a baseball stadium, you have to be wary about what could happen to your stomach. This burger was topped with chipotle aioli, a huge slice of pasilla chili pepper, tomatoes, caramelized onions and blue cheese.

The first bite had caught me by surprise even though the burger piqued my interest while in line because I hadn't expected much. They didn't skimp on any of the ingredients, but neither were they overpowering or too much. The blue cheese flavor shone through, but didn't overpower the smoky beef, or the slightly roasted flavor of the pasilla pepper.

The tomato wasn't bad either. Not a mealy slice, this bit of tomato was juicy and definitely had some noticeable flavor to back it up.

The bun though seemed to be in that limbo space between toasted too little and just right so it came off as a little stale (which it very well could have been). Again though, with not expecting much to begin with, this was a small problem with the burger and seemed as if it could be easily remedied with a few extra seconds in the toaster.

All in all, this was a pretty decent example of a burger, and is definitely a top choice to eat if you're ever at Dodger Stadium.

Unless of course you are able to get to the South Street Steaks stand inside the park. Then of course, you can't miss out on their sandwiches.

Until next week, Readers.

Big Blue Burger
*** Stars
Dodger Stadium
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Duck Is The New...Well, Duck.

Greetings, Readers!

Recently I've been traveling around a bit throughout Southern California in an effort to find a great venue for an event. It's been a really incredible experience, but as you know with any bit of traveling, exhaustion does set in.

Exhaustion and hunger.

Thankfully while touring around in Camarillo and Malibu, I passed by one of my favorite places in the area, Ladyface Ale Companie.

Now, I have previously reviewed Ladyface before, Post-2012 Presidential election, so you know by now my love of this place, but would the food still live up to my standard if I tackled another sandwich?

Only one way to find out.

Previously enjoying the Croque Monsieur, I decided this would be the time to try the Duck Confit sandwich. Duck can be tricky to work with as it can typically be a bit greasy and hence not so appealing to most people.

This sandwich though was excellent. A healthy dose of shredded duck, gruyere cheese, dried fruit mostarda and mustard greens stuffed into a fresh baguette, this sandwich provided a number of complementary and contrasting flavors. The mustard greens had their earthy and peppery flavors while the duck and mostarda provided smoky and sweet flavors that took turns in the spotlight with each bite.

The duck was not greasy, but tender and full of flavor. The sandwich has furthered my desire to find more duck sandwiches when combined with the great experience of the lavender Duck Confit at Sweetsalt in Studio City.

So, Readers, this sandwich still lives up to the quality of the other food offerings and the amazing beer provided by Ladyface. While Agoura Hills may seem a little out of the way for some of you, it's definitely worth making the trip out on a slow weekend afternoon.

I know it'll be worth your time.

Until next week, Readers...

Duck Confit
**** 1/2 Stars
Ladyface Ale Companie
23281 Agoura Road
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Pop Fly In Flavor

Greetings, Readers.

Look, I love baseball.

If you didn't know that before from previous stadium related posts, now you know. I am admitting that I may have a problem with my love of baseball. I just can't get enough of it.

Some of it is the sport itself, the action, the fun, the skill.

Another part is the stadium food. Enjoying a hot dog in the warm sun during a three hour game. There really is something about the whole experience.

So of course while I was in Japan, I not only took in a Giants baseball game at Tokyo Dome, but I had to try some of the stadium food.

The Japanese love (seriously LOVE) baseball, so the stadium had to have excellent food to enjoy with this most beloved of sports, right?

After attending a sumo match the previous day and enjoying Yakitori, I thought that a Teriyaki chicken sandwich would be the way to go for this sandwich outing.

Boy, could I not have been more wrong.

Between innings I decided to go with this Chicken Teriyaki sandwich over some of the other overtly questionable choices. The chicken patty was glazed with Teriyaki sauce but really provided no flavor at all. In fact, the entire sandwich was fairly bland.

Oh and then there was the gristle.

Yep. Gristle.

Imagine eating a sandwich while enjoying a game at Tokyo Dome and all of a sudden you have a very noticeably chewy nugget in the middle of your sandwich.

Also imagine how hard it is to dispose of that piece of gristle without insulting or disgusting Japanese patrons next to you. It's not exactly easy, but it had to be done.

This was the only regrettable moment of my trip to Tokyo, and luckily was overshadowed by enjoying a Giants game at Tokyo Dome.

So, Readers, while I do suggest you take in a game if you happen to visit Tokyo (the fans alone are fun to watch), I'd definitely suggest you stay away from the Chicken Teriyaki sandwich. Seriously.

Until next week, Readers...

Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich
* Star
Tokyo Dome
Tokyo, Japan

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Burgers of Burbank (Part 11, Finale)

The 7 oz. Burger
Greetings, Readers!

So, here we are. The end of the burger road. We've reviewed a few more here than what I've posted about, but I feel like I've discussed all the ones worth discussing with you.

So what are your thoughts? Did you enjoy the...

Wait a second.

One. More.

That's right, for old times sake, let's just do one more, one FINAL burger review on this burger tour of Burbank.

For this final review, we visited Not A Burger Stand.

What's that you say? Wouldn't that mean there aren't any burgers at this place?

Well, not really. It's mostly not-burgers (beef brisket, crab cake and portabella sandwiches, etc.) but there is one on its menu: the 7oz. Burger.

This burger is a straightforward, minimalist affair: A little bit of mayo, a little bit of mustard, a 7 oz. all beef 80/20 patty with two slices of Swiss and lettuce. Despite being so simple, this was one of the most enjoyable burgers on the trip.

Not A Burger Stand is known for their "Deal of the Day" chalkboard signs
There wasn't an overload of flavors fighting for my taste buds' attention, just delicious beef flavor with a few supporting flavor friends. The beef itself was simple, with a prominent, yet simple, flavor. Speaking with the cook between bites, we found out that he uses simple 80/20 mix ground beef, hand shapes them himself into patties and only seasons with a little bit of salt and pepper.

Simple, yet delicious.

A great and simple burger, and a great and simple restaurant in Burbank. Seems like the best way to end this journey.

It can be a little tough looking back on so many burgers and trying to decide which one was the best or worst, but the fact is that out of the many we've tried each one had its own bright spots. Some were delicious, some were risky, but all of them had one thing in common: a love of the art form of the burger.

So if you're in Burbank in the future, and looking for a good burger, hopefully the past few weeks of reviews can lead you in the right direction. Maybe you even find one yourself that you weren't expecting to enjoy and you can share with me and the other Readers for our mutual benefit.

Many thanks to Bryan for proposing the idea and then joining me on this excellent adventure through the art of Burgering.

Which Burgers were some of your favorites, Readers?

Until next week...

The 7 oz. Burger
**** Stars
Not A Burger Stand
1221 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91506

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Love You, Tokyo

Ohaiyou Gozaimasu, Readers!

I have returned from my 8 day journey to the wonderful capital city of Tokyo, Japan.

Granted, I didn't eat many sandwiches there as the numerous options of delicious sushi and various types of noodles took precedence while there, but I did happen upon a sandwich dealer while walking through the neighborhood of Ginza.

Tucked beneath the tracks for the local JR Yamanote train line, The Beat Diner can be hard to find if you're not looking for it.

Also being tucked beneath a subway, every so often during your meal the entire place rattles as the train passes overhead. It definitely adds to the atmosphere of the place.

And speaking of atmosphere, the place has it in handfuls. A rugged brick interior with walls adorned by classic American rock records, it's a tribute to 60s and 70s America, right down to the classic american food: The Hamburger.

Every burger is listed in two different sizes, essentially 1/3lb and 1/4 lb options, and for this time out I decided to go with the straight up 1/4lb Cheeseburger.

While not expecting much out of sandwiches in Tokyo, and having had so many great ones recently in Burbank, I was blown away by how delicious this sandwich was.

After being given a small paper bag to wrap the burger in (a la West Coast style) I dove right in and was hit with a delicious beef flavor and a well rounded, melted cheddar flavor. A little bit of crisp lettuce tops of the burger added a freshness as well as textural crunch.

The fries were also excellent, and I wish there had been more. Very flavorful, lightly salted, and with a bit of crispiness on the outside.

This was really a fantastic burger, not just for Tokyo, but for any burger love in general.

As I've found with many sandwiches over this journey, sometimes the best ones appear to us through accident. Here we were, hungry and looking for lunch after touring the Imperial Palace grounds and we happen to pass by a local restaurant that mostly neighborhood locals would know of. We didn't expect much, and were absolutely blown away by this find.

If you're ever in Tokyo, and you should definitely make sure you are at one point in your life, you should absolutely try to find this for a break from the country's delicious sushi and udon offerings. You will be thoroughly rewarded for doing so.

Until next week, Readers...

1/4lb Cheeseburger
**** Stars
The Beat Diner
Tokyo, Japan

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Burgers of Burbank (Part 10)

 Greetings, Readers!

Have you been waiting patiently over the past week to hear more from our exciting Burgers of Burbank tour?

A few days ago Bryan and I hit up two excellent places, starting off with Apollo Charburger.

This tiny, greasy-spoon type restaurant at the corner of Magnolia and Glenoaks Blvd. is a place I have known about for quite some time but had never tried, mainly due to its very limited hours.

During the week they close up at 4pm, so the race was one as soon as I left work at 3pm.

Arriving only 20 minutes before they closed, I was greeted by two burgers that Bryan had already ordered (and with quality decision making skills): The Pastrami Burger and a Bacon Cheeseburger.

I know what you're thinking, Readers: "We appreciate your dedication to the art of sandwiching, especially when you share two burgers at the same time just for our benefit."

It's a hard job, but someone must do it.

Both burgers were pretty straightforward offerings with cheese, lettuce and pickles topping the burger patty and their differing additions.

Speaking of the patty, it was delicious in both cases. Even though it was a fairly thin patty, it was full of delicious all beef flavor that permeated the sandwich and worked well with the condiments, never giving them a chance to even partially overpower its flavor.

For someone who enjoys pastrami as much as I do though, the Pastrami Burger was the lesser of the two burgers. Sure it was topped off with a healthy dose of pastrami, but it was a bit chewy and the flavor didn't shine through.

The Bacon Cheeseburger worked much better. The smoky bacon flavor mixed very well with the beef patty, and the crunchy lettuce and pickles broke up that flavor with their salty and fresh flavors.

Despite my love for pastrami, my love of bacon once against trumps in this burgering adventure as well. Even if you're not a bacon or pastrami fan the burgers here are pretty basic, yet solid and delicious offerings. You won't be disappointed even with a straight up cheeseburger.

Until next week, Readers.

Pastrami Burger
3 1/2 Stars
Bacon Cheeseburger
4 Stars
Apollo Restaurant
401 N. Glenoaks Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Burgers of Burbank (Part 9)

You have read the title of this entry correctly, Readers.

Here we are, on the 9th entry of the Burgers of Burbank Tour, and we are still far from over.

A few entries ago, I mentioned that Bryan and I had one day where we attempted to eat five different burgers in an afternoon. In today's blog, I'd like to discuss the burger we had at Granville Cafe.

I am intentionally skipping over the burger we had at a nearby location right before Granville. I'd rather not bore you with the details. Then again, if I were going to this location, I probably wouldn't be there for the food anyway.

Granville Cafe is a great little restaurant tucked away on San Fernando Blvd. Despite being full from tasting burgers all afternoon, our palates were still attracted to the idea of the server-recommended Bacon and Blue Burger, along with two beers from their delicious beer menu.

This thick, 100% all natural Angus beef patty, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, arugula, blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and topped with Granville's homemade Port Sauce and Chipotle Aioli makes this an incredible sight to see.

This is not a burger you would want to try after four previous ones, but despite being weighed down, The Granville Bacon and Blue burger was still noted as a clear standout of the day.

The Angus beef patty was delicious, full of beef flavor, and noticeable in this sandwich, especially compared to the previous burgers we tasted with overpowering, salty condiments. Compared to those other lesser burgers, the condiments and extras on this sandwich work together and compliment each other and the meat. Their combined flavors add a more mild, smoky and less acidic flavors than other burgers crowded with condiments.

Blue cheese is an excellent choice to complement the delicious applewood smoked bacon and the smooth flavor of the Angus beef.

This burger is a clear winner so far and would rank in the top three of the Burgers of Burbank so far. Not only was the sandwich well crafted, but the favors served as perfect compliments, and even through the haze of four previous burgers, we were still able to make room for this one.

Let's just not ever do that again, okay?

Until next week, Readers...

The Granville Bacon and Blue Burger
**** 1/2 Stars
121 N. San Fernando Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Burgers of Burbank (Part 8)

Greetings Readers!

I know that I've taken a few weeks off from reviewing the Burgers of Burbank, but I believe now is the time to dive back into the topic, with fresh eyes and taste buds.

A few weeks ago, while continuing my journey with Bryan, we headed to a local bar that I had been to on a number of other occasions: Joe's Great American Bar and Grill.

On my previous nighttime visits, this place was packed with rowdy and dancing patrons, all moving to a live country band that played for a majority of the evening. Sounds fairly "American" doesn't it?

Sounds like the burger should also be good, right?

Despite having a food menu at this bar, I wouldn't say that it is in anyway a restaurant, or even a brewpub, and usually in situations like this the food will tend to be dissatisfying at best.

Despite this though, the Fried Egg and Bacon Cheeseburger seemed like it could be a real standout. A combination of breakfast and one of the most delicious variations on a sandwich to ever be? It seemed like the risk worth taking.

The fried egg on the sandwich was really well done. It had a mellow flavor that is a natural compliment to the flavor of beef, but this is where the enjoyment with the sandwich ends.

For the most part, this burger suffers from problems we've seen with other burgers on this journey, namely the overcondimentification (patent pending word) of the sandwich.

Too many condiments, too little meat, and the only flavor your get is mustard, ketchup, pickles, and raw onions.

In this case, a little fried egg too.

One of the worst problems here was with the bacon. Obviously this problem becomes more compounded and noticeable because, well, it's BACON.

It wasn't crispy at all. It was almost soggy. Definitely soft at best.

Even though the bacon flavor was noticeable over the condiments, it wasn't enough to help turn this sandwich around.

Some places just aren't made for burgers, and in this case I should have gone in with even lower expectations to begin with. I've had fun evenings with drinks and friends at Joe's Great American Bar and Grill before, but I definitely will not be returning to sample this burger again.

On that note though, on to new Burgers next week!

Until then, Readers...

Fried Egg Bacon Cheeseburger
1 1/2 Stars
Joe's American Bar & Grill
4311 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Return To An Old Favorite

Greetings, Readers!

After taking a break from burgers for last week's blog, I felt compelled to take one more week off before returning to the Burgering Adventure.

I wanted to return to a place I hadn't been for quite some time: Sweetsalt.

It's been awhile since I've been to this little shop on Riverside, but it looks like business has been good as they've expanded the seating area inside.

I had originally planned to get the Duck Confit sandwich that I had gotten on my last visit but perusing the menu led my eye to the Short Rib sandwich.

Now I've had short rib sandwiches before (here and here) so this wasn't anything new, but would it be able to hold up to my previous experiences?

The short rib on this sandwich was delicious. Shredded, sweet and at the same time a little spicy, from the beginning it's noticeable that this is a standout.  Topped with goat cheese, braised onions, roasted garlic and a handful of wild arugula, which added a mild mustard flavor to the mix, this is a top short rib sandwich. it is definitely a contender for one of the best in the area.

Also knowing what the rest of their menu is like (especially the outstanding Lavender Duck Confit), Sweetsalt is now even more of a must-visit place in Toluca Lake.

So now, for real, I will return to reviewing the Burgers of Burbank again next week. I have so many more to tell you aout, and Bryan and I are about to take on some more again very soon.

Until next week...

Short Rib Sandwich
**** Stars
Sweetsalt Food Shop
10218 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, CA 91602

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Grilled Cheese Invitational 2013 (or, Cheese-ella)

Elbows Mac N Cheese's "Masala Grilled Cheese"
Greetings Readers!

I thought this week that I would take a bit of a break from reviewing the Burgers of Burbank and instead focus on an event that this blog was destined to cover.

The 11th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational.

I know, I was just like you once. I wondered if such a thing as that could actually exist, but it's true. I had actually known about the event since I first moved out to LA, but I always seemed to miss it every year. This time would be different though.

Heading to Downtown LA on a very warm Saturday afternoon with friends, we scoped out the numerous trucks lining the parking lot. Checking the menu listings, we each waited in different lines to grab sandwiches to share with each other. This way we could sample more.

The Counter's "Grilled Cheese Trifecta"
I'm not exaggerating when I say that even the my least favorite sandwich of the day was still excellently made, and absolutely delicious.

My choice was the Masala Grilled Cheese from Elbows Mac N Cheese. This sandwich with its Indian spices, sharp cheddar cheese, peppers and onions sounded great to begin with, but I felt compelled to add a layer of baked mac and cheese. The layer of mac is something I've done before with The Grilled Cheese Truck, and was a decision that added cheesy gooeyness as well as more cheddar flavor to complement the definitive and powerful Indian spices.

The Grilled Cheese Truck's "Cheesy Mac and Rib"

The Cheesy Mac and Rib from The Grilled Cheese Truck was as delicious as it was on my original meeting with them. This sandwich with its Southern style Mac and Cheese, sharp cheddar cheese and caramelized onions is topped off with tangy and delicious BBQ shredded pork. An excellent combination that leaves you wanting more.

The Counter offered something in the way of a more traditional grilled cheese with their Grilled Cheese Trifecta: Cheddar, American and Provolone on grilled Texas Toast. The provolone could have been melted better, but overall the flavors of the three cheeses blended well.

Cheesy Amigos Cart's "Strawberry Chardonnay"

Trailerpark Truck's Cheesy Bloomin' Onion Melt consisted of melted Monterey Jack cheese, house-made chipotle aioli and a healthy dose of crispy fried onion strings on grilled white bread. The fried onion strings gave a bit of textural contrast to the melty cheese, and provided a great additional flavor.

But Lo, Dear Reader! There were not only savory sandwiches, but dessert sandwiches as well.

Stay with me for this one, the two we sampled may just blow your mind.

First up was the Cheesy Amigos Cart's Strawberry Chardonnay. This sandwich used Strawberry Chardonnay Cheddar, fresh bananas and strawberries along with Nutella on grilled Brioche. Obviously different in flavor to the other sandwiches sampled, the straberries added a fresh, crisp flavor to this interesting mix, while the chocolaty Nutella added an excellent, but still sweet contrast. The cheddar was not a sharp flavor, but very mellow and blended well.

Before leaving though, I decided I needed to try the Tiramisu Grilled Cheese from McCalllum's Melt.

Trailerpark Truck's "Cheesy Bloomin' Onion Melt"
Yes, Tiramisu. You're not going crazy and making things up, and neither was I.

This sandwich used Chocolate Bread and filled it with a whipped Mascarpone cheese with a dose of coffee syrup.

I thought I had taken a photo of it, but I may have just eaten the whole thing before I got the chance. Either way, apologies.

It was delicious, and an excellent experimentation with what actually makes up a Grilled Cheese sandwich.

Overall, The Grilled Cheese Invitational was everything I could have imagined, and more. Not only was it a delightful way to spend an afternoon with friends, but it was also a great way to see how local chefs are experimenting with the form of the Grilled Cheese sandwich.

I know I for one will be going again next year, and so should you.

Until next week, Dear Readers!