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