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Entries in Sandwiches (10)

Thursday
Aug162012

Bruery Provisions and Bruxie Waffles: Orange You Glad You Took a Daytrip?

*Post by Mark.

One of the things I love about Los Angeles is that the possibilities of daytrip escapes are virtually endless. This summer, a daytrip brought us to the heart of Orange County. Specifically, Old Towne Orange, a quaint, frozen-in-time oasis replete with preserved century-old buildings. At the town's center, a round-about encircles a fountain from 1886. It's like a real life movie set. But, of course we didn't come here to peep landmarks... we came to eat and drink! 

 

 

And what better place to eat AND drink... and drink some more, then at The Bruery Provisions. Any beer geek already knows that The Bruery is making some of the best, boldest and most experimental brews in California, just a few miles away in Placentia. Since our visit, The Bruery has also opened a 40-tap Tasting Room at the brewery in Placentia, but the Provisions location isn't still without its own allure. Take, for instance, the back patio, where flights of beers can be enjoyed alongside a variety of charcuterie plates. 

 

 

Make sure to check out their daily tap list and menu on their facebook page before heading over. On the menu for us that day were two flights, so we got them both. First, the Classic Flight (below, from right to left): 

  1. Nottenroth - A batch of the Hottenroth that failed to ferment, this happy accident was an almost absurdly light, 2% ABV. While you won't find the intended sourness, there's something really interesting about the light, floral, crisp taste. 
  2. Loakal Red  - Perhaps my favorite that we sampled. The hoppiness of this 6.9% ABV red ale perfectly balances out the sweet caramel malt to make for a very well-rounded beer.  
  3. Gremlin - Some fruit and spice really sharpen up the drinkable Belgian ale. A rather nice beer for summer sipping on the patio. 
  4. Trade Winds Tripel - The official summer seasonal of The Bruery may have been the biggest hit at our table. The 8% ABV, Belgian-style Golden Ale uses rice in its mash instead of candi sugar (A Belgian sugar commonly used in brewing), and spices things up with an aromatic dash of Thai Basil. 
  5. Fruet - Not for the casual beer drinker, the Fruet is an Old Ale aged in bourbon barrels that comes in at a whopping 15.5%. The thick, molassasy drink pours more like a syrup, and drinkers should expect something more along the lines of port wine.

 

 

And on we moved to a Specialty Flight (below, moving from right to left):

  1. Sans Pagaie - A spritzy 5.8% ABV American Wild Ale proves a very a solid sour with a tart sour cherry flavor to match its bright red color.
  2. Otiose - Packing a little more punch at 8.2% ABV than its brother-in-arms the Sans Pagaie, this wild sour pours a dark nutty brown hue, and matches it with notes of oak and juicy guava. 
  3. White Oak - a strong white made by combining The Mischief with bourbon barrel-aged wheatwine. It's deceptively drinkable, which can spell trouble at 11.5%.
  4. Cuir - The Bruery's Third Anniversary brew is rather similar to the Fruet, though slightly less polarizing at only 14.5%. 
  5. Smoking Wood - This imperial smoked porter is designed to highlight the finiest qualities of wood in beer. Smoked beachwood and cherrywood malts age in rye whiskey barrels for a black-as-night beer that makes getting lost in the woods not such a bad thing. 

 

 

What better compliment to flights of beer than cheese plates? Tour cheeses from all over the world with offerings like The International (below), or stick closer to home with the gourmet offerings of the Born in the U.S.A. 

 

 

And why limit yourselves to just cheese when you can have meat and cheese. The Farm (below) combines a few cheese varieties with a heaping portion of sopresatta molinari salami and Spanish nuts. 

 

 

After eating and drinking to our stomachs' content on the patio, it was time to pick up a little something for later. In addition to the selection of wonderful Bruery bottles available for purchase, Provisions is also host to one of the most impressively curated bottle lists you'll find in the greater Los Angeles area. 

 

The Bruery Provisions on Urbanspoon

 

All that time spent eating and drinking really worked up our appetites. Luckily, just a hop, skip and jump down the road is Bruxie, where an array of sweet and savory gourmet waffles are served at a walk-up window. With a snaking line that could be seen spilling onto the sidewalk from a block away, this was clearly the place to be on an early summer night. 

 

 

One of the more basic options on the extensive savory menu might be the Cheesy Bruxie (below), which is essentially a grilled cheese (gruyere and Tillamook cheddar) sandwich, with a crisp Belgian waffle folded in a half moon subbing in for the bread. A fun enough option, but hard to justify when there's Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles (not pictured) on the menu! 

 

 

More exciting is the Hot Pastrami Bruxie (below), a surprisingly delightful rendition of the Jewish deli classic, made with Boar's Head pastrami, gruyere, cider slaw, half sour pickles and spicy brown mustard. It's so good, you might not even miss the rye bread at all. 

 

 

The salmon & dill bruxie (below) sandwiches thin slices of smoked fish inside the folded waffle with herbed cream cheese, cucumbers and chives. And did I mention the waffle fries? They're fried in peanut oil and only $2.50 with the sandwich.

 

 

The savory waffles are great, but as far as I'm concerned, just a prelude to the sweet portion of the menu. You'll find shakes, custards, and floats (below, left) there to accompany your dessert waffles, like the PB & J (below, right), made with all natural peanut butter and blackberry preserves oozing from the middle.

 

 

But it's all about the S'mores Waffle (below), arriving with a light dusting of powdered sugar and stuffed with Belgian chocolate, Graham cracker, and toasted marshmallow. 

 

 

These Bruxie people are some sort of mad geniuses. If Old Towne Orange is too out of the way, you can still track them down at one of their other locations in Rancho Santa Margarita or Brea. As for us, we're pretty content with our little one-two punch here in Old Towne Orange. 

 

Bruxie on Urbanspoon

Tuesday
May222012

Burger Lounge - a San Diego Burger Chain finds a home in LA 

*Post by Angela.

These days I’m filled with all sorts of conflicting needs/wants when it comes to my dining options. I want to consume food in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible, but I don’t want to sacrifice taste. I want to eat healthier, but I also feel the allure of all those delicious summer grill items (steaks, brats, burgers, etc.) that are generally not as conducive to a beach-ready body. I want to sprawl about on a patio with a beer or glass of wine in my hand, but I don’t want spend a whole lot of money for the type of sit-down meal that so often accompanies the right to outdoor seating. Burger Lounge, a San Diego burger chain focusing on organic fast food, seeks to bring a little balance to my life at its newest, certified green location in West Hollywood.

 

 

Located on Sunset Boulevard, Burger Lounge shares a parking lot with under-the-radar gems Sushi Park and Joe’s Pizza. Unlike its more non-descript neighbors, Burger Lounge ups the style quotient of the shopping plaza with a sleek patio and bright orange awning – it’s a burger place that feels at home on the Strip.

 

 

While the establishment was still alcohol-free when we visited, Burger Lounge is set to offer local craft beer and wine by the glass (once the permits are processed, which should be any day now). Designated drivers and non-imbibers will delight in the house-made, Fair Trade, cane-sweetened fountain soda from Maine Root. You'll find actual Mexican Cola on the fountain rotation, but the highlight? The orange soda. Trust.

 

 

Before we hit up the burgers, we laid the groundwork by splitting a Fresh Vegetable Salad ($7.95). We had been excited to see husked ears of corn cooking away on the grill in the kitchen, and here’s where the kernels ended up: tossed along side a lightly-dressed mélange of romaine, spinach, arugula, tomato, cucumber, red onion, jicama, and ricotta. Knowing we were about to tuck into some meaty goodness, we did not take advantage of the option to add chicken or the various patties (veggie, salmon, turkey, beef).

We didn’t try the wild salmon burger ($8.95, below), but were awfully tempted by its promise of fried green tomato topping and BBQ glaze. The Quinoa Veggie Burger ($7.95), made with quinoa, brown rice, zucchini, garbanzo, carrot, corn, and chipotle also sounded promising. But on this trip, we were looking to eat some MEAT.

 

 

The Lounge Burger ($7.95, below) features a medium rare patty made of 100% single-source, American grass-fed, beef, and like all the other burgers on the menu, pairs it with iceberg lettuce, tomato, organic cheese (white cheddar or American), fresh or grilled onion and house-made 1000 Island. All burgers come served on a blended wheat and white flour bun. If you forgo the cheese and dressing, all of the burgers come in at under 570 calories.

 

 

The All-Natural Turkey Burger ($7.95, below) blends dark and white meat turkey with fresh basil. It’s definitely one of the more flavorful turkey burgers I’ve had, really juicy.

 

 

The Classic (below), which we almost didn’t order (because it’s a secret!!), was far and away our favorite. Basically a riff on your typical fast-food chain burger, the Classic swaps in a fat beef patty and pickles while omitting the iceberg lettuce.

 

 

The Burger Lounge offers options to indulge our fatty cravings as well. We shared an order of the Half-and-Half ($4.99), a heaping combination of great, crispy onion rings and fries. We also indulged our hankerings for sweetness with a chocolate Lounge Shake made with Dreyer’s ice cream and loads of whipped cream.

 

 

All right, so our meal ended up being a little over-the-top, and yeah, maybe we ate ourselves uncomfortably full. But that’s on us. If you’re a reasonable person, Burger Lounge offers a healthier, more stylish alternative to fast-food, using organic, high quality ingredients but keeping the price very affordable.

*Disclosure: this was a hosted meal.

Burger Lounge on Urbanspoon

Thursday
Apr262012

Pink's Hot Dogs Hollywood

*Post by Mark.

There are things in this world I'll happily wait in line for. But when it comes to Hollywood's most famous hot dog stand, that sadly is not the case. Pink's Hot Dogs on La Brea has been causing long lines to form out front of the restaurant for going on 72 years now. Day or night, you're likely to find at least a hundred people cluttering the sidewalk in front of you. And for what? Guide books might tell you this is quintessential LA dining. But this is not the LA I know.

 

 

Now, just because I'm not a fan doesn't mean Pink's isn't right for you. Maybe you just got off your tour bus, snapped a few pictures next to Brad and Angelina's wax statues at Madame Tussauds and have a little time to kill before you bust our your costumes for the 'Let's Make a Deal' show. Maybe you need a lunch break from your Star Map celebrity house hunting and you heard Seacrest loves this place. Seriously, fanny-pack-wearers, this place is for you. 

But if you came to Los Angeles, and actually want to experience the culinary melting pot that makes LA one of the most unique food cities in America, I implore you to go elsewhere.

 

 

I'd lived just around the corner for over a year before I finally gave in. It was 10:30 in the morning and the store next door wouldn't be open until 11:00. I had time to kill and the line hadn't yet started to form for lunch, so I went for it. A perfect storm brought me there, but it wouldn't be long before I'd be wishing that that storm had diverted me anywhere else. 

 

 

I sprang for one of their specials. Go big or home, right? It came topped with sour cream, mustard, tomato and a few strips of bacon. There's nothing here that I couldn't have made (arguably better) at home in the microwave. If it's Pink's distinct hot dog 'snap' that you're looking for, I suggest heading south a few blocks to Wirtshaus, where you can skip the lines and sip on German lagers while you wait for a spicy scharfe wurst - a sausage with snap that's actually worth waiting for. The only consolation to my first experience at Pink's was that I didn't have to wait. I can't imagine having stood in a line over an hour for this.

 

 

Then there were the french fries. Just as gross. I had only a few before this brazen bird staked his claim on them. The bulbous little buzzard looked like he wanted them more than I did. He and his friends ate very well that day. 

 

 

 

I guess the lesson learned is that longevity and demand don't always equate to quality. If you came to Los Angeles and are feeling more adventurous than a mediocre hot dog, let us know. We'll point you towards a few places that are worth the visit on their own.  

Pink's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

Friday
Mar162012

Marcona - Mediterranean-style sandwich shop opens on Melrose 

*Post by Mark.

Oh, the sandwich gods have been kind to our little WeHo / Melrose / Fairfax neighborhood of late. We already have All About the Bread, Mendocino Farms, Food + Lab, Canters Deli and Ink.sack (to name only a few) all in our relative vicinity. They've now gifted us with Marcona - an east-coast style deli from owner Collier Ulrich and chef Matthew Moss that hopes to break the mold by offering sandwiches, salads and sides with a Meditterranean twist. The counter-service restaurant, located on Melrose between Martel and Fuller, opens to the public on March 20th, and we were invited to come in for a preview.

 

 

Marcona's menu lists twelve sandwiches (ranging in price from $5-12), and we got our hands on most of them. The array of options should satisfy the hungriest of carnivores (hangar steak, anyone?) or the pickiest of vegetarians (caprese beets!). There are even two vegan options if that's your sorta thing - the one we sampled, the V.B.Q. ($9 - vegan meatloaf, BBQ), wasn't half bad. Sandwiches can be supplemented by a selection of healthy sides, salads and a few unique assortments of pickled vegetables. 

 

 

Among the sandwiches we sampled, a few really stand out. My personal favorite is the Lomo ($10.50), a hearty sandwich stuffed with tender, spiced pork shoulder, roasted parsnips, charred red onions, manchego, and a date mustard as sweet as it is pungent. Served on a crusty ciabatta roll, the resulting sandwich is packed with flavor. Angela was particularly impressed by the Turkey Romesco ($9), which piles white-meat turkey, red onion, iceberg, romesco, and manchego on a French baguette. What separates it from your typical turkey sandwich, though, is the heat and crunch derived from the housemade giardiniera, which Marcona offers on its own as one of their vegan pickled options, along with "chow chow" - corn, cucumber, cauliflower, radish, sweet red pepper & thyme, cider vinegar - and "Thai" - cucumber, cilantro, daikon, jalapeno, lemongrass, red onion, seasoned rice wine vinegar.

 

 

The Spanish Gyro ($12) wrapped juicy bits of merguez lamb sausage, piquillos, and baby greens in a pita and topped it with a refreshing combination of sheep's milk yogurt and cucumber. The BLT ($9) combines the classic combination with an assertive tarragon aioli on a toasted fluffy pretzel roll. If you're going for healthy, the Marcona Chicken Pesto ($9) and Burlington ($10 - mushrooms, Vermont cheddar, granny smith apple) sandwiches dial back on heft and come served on fresh honey wheat rolls. Red onion fans will find themselves in heaven, though my dining companion, who tends to be finicky about them, ate around them.

 

 

In addition to sandwiches, Marcona offers a small selection of salads, sides, and soups. The Mediterranean potatoes ($4) may be the star here, with sundried tomatoes and olives give the traditional potato salad (red potato, herbs) a unique flavor boost. Another side is a white bean salad ($3.50), comprised very simply of lightly cooked beans, red onion, olive oil and mint.  

 

 

On the sweet side of things, pastry chef Janna Leone has big plans for Marcona's dessert options. We're hoping the delicious cookies (below) that we took away with us are an indicator of what's to come.

 

 

And for those looking to take a taste of Marcona home with them, a small retail section offers some of Marcona's baked goods and coffees, as well as some local and imported products such as oils, vinegars, mustards and salts. Once Marcona officially opens to the public this Tuesday, March 20, it will be open from 11:30 - 7:00 Tuesday - Thursday and from 11:00 - 5:00 on Saturday and Sunday. I'll certainly be back for that Lomo.

Marcona on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Mar072012

L & E Oyster Bar in Silverlake

*Post by Angela.

Back in DC, I was blessed to have lived across the street from Hank's Oyster Bar, a really fantastic little establishment devoted to bringing diners the best bivales available. Until recently, I wasn't aware of any similar outlets for my oyster loving ways in Los Angeles. But January brought us the opening of L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake, a cozy joint soaked in green and concrete from the same folks behind Bar Covell.

 

 

Nestled on a quiet residential strip on Silverlake Boulevard, L&E is pretty small, and seating is limited - they don't take reservations, so either get there early, or be prepared to wait. A large part of the interior is taken up by the bar, which serves a not-insubstantial selection of wines (both by the glass and by the bottle), as well as a small selection of California craft beers.

 

 

Seated on the enclosed patio, we got right down to business with the Daily Dozen, a platter of 3 different types of oysters (4 of each kind) selected by the chef. Both the Sunset Beach and Kumai oysters were wonderful (medium-sized, plump, and just a tiny bit of a sweet finish), but my personal favorite was the Fire Island oyster, medium-sized with a perfect balance of salinity and a beautifully clean aftertaste. The platter was accompanied by three sauce options: horseradish, cocktail sauce, and a mignonette. 

 

 

In addition to its daily oyster offerings, L&E has four entree options on the menu. The blackened catfish, with roasted sunchokes, blistered shishito peppers, and pepper and celery slaw, was pleasant enough, if a little unexciting. The best part of the dish were the luscious creamy grits that served as a bed for the fish.

 

 

The kitchen was on more solid ground with the Knife & Fork Fried Oyster Po'Boy, served with sauce gribiche (a mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce), wild lettuce, tomato and pickled red onion. The plump oysters were fantastically juicy, and perfectly breaded & fried.

 

 

The chimmichuri steak sandwich, with tomato, watercress, and horseradish aioli, was the sole meat entree option. While ultimately forgettable - the skirt steak was a bit on the chewy side and the chimmichuri didn't make much of an appearance - it's an inoffensive option for non-seafood lovers. On the other hand, we couldn't stop eating the accompanying mountain of crispy thin French fries.

 

 

The last member of our party rounded things out by getting the final of the four entree items, the Cajun shrimp pie. We didn't try it, but it smelled really good, and the crust looked light and flaky with 'L & E' branded into its skin. 

 

 

For dessert, we finished our meal with the chocolate tart with salted caramel sauce and the date bread pudding. While I preferred the lightly sweet date dessert, Mark unsurprisingly favored the rich and a little salty chocolate tart. But neither stood out enough to trump those oysters. No doubt, that's why we were there. 

 

Maybe nostalgia prevents any oyster bar from ever topping Hank's in my memory, but L&E is a pretty decent substitute. The rest of the menu has a little room for improvement to catch up, but these guys are serious about oysters, and the ones we sampled were top notch.

L&E Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon