The Oinkster, Spitz in Eagle Rock and Fosselman's in Alhambra
anyways, got the word that oinkster was open, and heard so much about the much heralded homemaded, smoked pastrami. and belgian frites. so hightailed over there over the weekend.
there was some ballons outside. i think the chef was there too. But for some reason the place didn't look promising, it had the look of a bad imitation of all american burger, the 1950s suburban ennui coupled with those razor sharp red umbrellas.
anyways, they didn't have any of their roast chicken, and had a little menu insert that detailed a half dozen food items that they didn't even have. this must be a really really really soft opening. didn't look promising but anyways, i was there for the pastrami and the frites.
ordered and got the combo which was about 12 dollars and some change, very very expensive for a fast food joint but wait it gets worse.
the pastrami sandwich and frites arrived with a couple minutes. the sandwich looked like the hat, johnnie's variety with pastrami on a french roll, but alas with half the amount of meat and the flavor of the meat was really not all there and the sandwich was lukewarm at best yet i still at the whole sandwich due to hunger. it wasn't tiny but it was small.
The frites or rather the Belgain frites was a very sad affair altoghether. Cold fries. not much better than in n out's (which i hate). didn't seem at all like superb belgian, twice fried frites (for great ones go to the hitching post in buelton or casmalia). once again, the fries were truly bad. some of the fries were just the leftover crud that had been sitting there for hours.
an utter waste at close to 13 bucks. oh, and for what it's worth, the pastrami did have a hint of the smoking, so you might find that as a nice surprise.
anyways, still hungry, so headed to spitz for the doner kabab sandwich which if i'm not mistaken is basically another name for a gyro sandwich. so ordered up one of those, and it arrived. not bad not great, nothing necessarily special above and beyond your garden variety gyro.
Then off to Fosselman's for some dessert, really good ice cream, though not as good as a previous visit. ordered up chocolate rasberry mousse and taro, love that distinctive taro taste, but it wasn't butterfat-y nor creamy enough. i think fosselman's has some consistency problems, sometimes the get it right and the texture is perfectly smooth, but maybe it depends on the ice cream flavor.
I couldn't wait any longer and I hit Oinkster today.
I thought the value was quite good, they do a cheeseburger/fries/drink combo for $9.00. The Ketchup is house made. The pickles are house made. The dressing on the burger, house made. The burger is hand formed and a good size (1/3 lb) The tomato slice on the burger, a gorgeous red with a fresh taste.
The fries were fresh, but yes, to me they are too much like In n Out, a texture I do not like. They were not too salty, though. If you like this kind of fry, these were great. They don't seem to offer dipping sauce automatically now...perhaps you have to ask, but it gave me a chance to try the ketchup. (which, by the way, I didn't care for...it tasted like cinnamon. BUT, I really appreciate the effort and many might enjoy it.)
All in all...I think the value is good. The kids working seem to have no idea what they are doing, so some guidance/management on the floor would be good, but otherwise, in a few months, this place is going to rock.
for what it's worth, the guy next to me got a pulled pork sandwich and he said it was one of the best sandwiches he'd ever had. And this guy looked like he'd eaten a LOT of sandwiches!
i've been once and unless i'm completely blown away, i don't harsh out on a joint open for less than a week. the power of a poster can be great. let's not abuse the privilege and respect small, independent business. i did not go and expect everything to be intact. i'll wait to post although i understand the temptation to overreact to people's excitement about the highly anticipatory opening of the oinkster. let's not penalize andre for posters here. not fair.
that being said, DöNAR SPITZ is fair game. we patronize regularly. i've never seen a sandwich wrapped with such care in foil. i said to my husband, "this guy owns the joint." here's the deal: two earnest, recent occi grads who traveled through europe, couldn't find a decent donar kebab in l.a., borrowed $$$ from parents, learned about the biz on their own, did their own branding and are making a go of one of the hardest businesses to be in.
we like DöNAR SPITZ. it's fresh, fresh, fresh. the sweet potato fries are incredible. so is the iced coffee. we support these guys and like what they're doing.
we did a similar round to you, kevin, the other night: oinkster to silver lake wine (1 btl. macaulay cab, 1 btl ch. rayssac, 1 good conversation about blair's and canele); silver lake wine to pazzo gelato for great ice cream and 1# of black cat intelligensia; PG back home and a long walk with dogs.
i'm always about quality, not quantity as the old adage goes.
and i have stepped into souplantation against my a couple times by very bad friends.
anyways, the taste just wasn't there for the fries nor the pastrami, who knows may they'll get there shit together in the next few weeks.
Huh. Strange. I just had the fries and I thought they were some of the best I've ever had. Definitely better than In N Out. I mean, they're very different from the sort of fries you get at In N Out so it's hard to compare. Garlic aioli was great. I also don't get why everyone is saying the portions are small (I didn't have a sandwich or burger, just fries). I ordered the large fries and it was too much for two of us.
Kevin - I went today for lunch, and my original post is attached to another thread that also included Bottle Rock in Culver City.
I think they worked many of the bugs out over the weekend, and of course today being Tuesday, not the weekend, they had more time to get the orders out properly, which they did.
Read my comments.
They were out of several things, and the chicken being one of them, due to a delivery problem with the supplier of the rotisserie machine.
The garlic aioli on the fries is a wicked combination that needs trying. Now I know why the Dutch and Belgians have mayo on their fries.
Over all, it is a crossover between fast food,(and referred to as slow fast food on the sign outside) and a casual restaurant serving sandwiches, etc. and is priced between fast food and a coffee shop, yet, so far for me at least, the food is better than a coffee shop, and definitely better than fast food joints that come to mind.