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Give Oinkster Another Try!

After trying Oinkster last week many of us found a few areas that needed to be addressed. Andre did not disappoint. We tried it again this afternoon and what a difference. The portions were much larger, the presentations nicer, the sides were not forgotten and the fries were wonderful. The staff seems to have found their groove and, while it may not be perfect yet, the Oinkster is well on it's way to becoming a neighborhood favorite. Give it another try!

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  1. In the restaurant business you got to put your best foot forward from the start.

    "A satisfied customer may tell one person of their experience, yet a disatisfied customer will tell ten times as many people."

    Some people aren't as foregiving as you. Maybe I'll try it again, but I'm in no rush.

    1. I agree with you both. I had a good experience although I really wanted a shake, bad. I think the chipotle mayo is a necessity.

      4 Replies
      1. re: xdrixn

        How was the shake? How many varieties?? Was it thick enough?

        1. re: miffy

          shakes are yummy with Fosselman's ice cream. vanilla, choc or strawberry - can add malt, too.
          Andre also has a pumpkin pie variety this month.

          1. re: sugarorspice

            Thank you for the reply! That sounds great! I always meant to go to Fosseleman's but haven't-- so now I can try (as a shake) the legendary stuff!
            Pumpkin pie shake are normally not my fav but I guess it is in season!

            1. re: miffy

              the pumpkin ice cream in season at fosselman's is really great.

      2. They have the shakes now although I haven't tried one yet. Used up my calorie limit on the banana cream pie -- excellent.

        1. I wish there were more bread options--the roll the pastrami was on, for instance, was kind of blah, I prefer rye bread. The pastrami was not yet a rival to Langer's, but I am still glad Oinkster is in the neighborhood.

          I want to try the pork sandwich but again, the puffy white roll puts me off. And the burger was pretty good, but with another puffy white bun. But maybe it's just me, I've gone nuts trying to find decent whole grain bread in this town and have to make my own. I wish all good sandwich places offered at least some whole grain options.

          1. Had my first foray this afternoon and was not disappointed in the least (except for the lack of Belgian ales - anyone know anything about this?). Sat outside on the patio enjoying the street scene below. The Oinkster Pastrami was delicious - nicely spiced with the tart of the cole slaw and the top quality mustard adding a nice acid balance against the unctuousness of the pastrami and gruyere. After the first half of the sandwich I was full and had planned to take the rest home with me, but I couldn't resist and finished it all. The pulled pork was delicate, not at all the saucy mess you get at Zeke's. The fries were tasty though could have used another 30 seconds in the fryer for my taste, so next time I will know to ask for them extra crispy. The garlic aioli was a treat. Can't wait for them to get their rotisserie permitted so that can try the chickens next time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gearoy

              They do not have their alcohol license yet, and thus the no ales issue, for the moment. It is in process, though.
              My take on the pastrami sandwich is it is akin to a cross between the roll at Philippes(a bit softer) but with pastrami akin to that at Langers, with quality pickles and slaw to accompany.
              All the sauces are homemade, and that garlic aioli is really tasty as is the catsup. Need to get around to the others.

            2. "but with pastrami akin to that at Langers,"
              Respectfully, it is lofty hype like this (and way off base at this point), that is responsible for the Oinkster backlash. You do a disservice to them to make expectations so high.

              If others who've been before chime in that there's an improvement I'm more than happy it another shot.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Briggs

                Norm Langer is his mentor, and the taste reflects that teaching. You do need to try it again. I have had it probably 6-8 times, either in Eagle Rock or at Max in Sherman Oaks, and I assure you it is very very good - now as to the quantity issue, that is a separate conversation.

                1. re: carter

                  Sorry; I've eaten the pastrami at Langer's, and the stuff at Oinkster doesn't even approximate it. Sure, it's better than what's sold at the Hat in Alhambra, but not by much.

              2. "Norm Langer is his mentor, and the taste reflects that teaching"

                If that's the case, why isn't he offering hand cut or at least thicker sliced meat? Why not rye bread as an option? After all, aren't these a few of the things that makes Langer's Langer's? Langer's isn't know for their sky high sandwiches, but diminished quantity of meat (like barely) at Oinkster did affect the quality of the sandwich.

                Not trying to be argumentative (honestly). I realize Oinkster is going through birthing pains. All the more reason not to set auch high expectations so early in the game.

                I will, however try it again.

                1. I tried the Oinkster with my son this weekend and thought it was fine, but not worth going too far out of your way for. Maybe it was the rainy night, but there was something about the interior decor or lack thereof I found kind of glaring and dispiriting.
                  I had a hamburger with gruyere cheese which was very tasty but more of a fast food burger than a gourmet burger. My son had the pulled pork sandwich which had an excellent smoky flavor, but not much sauce. Usually there's too much sauce on this type of sandwich, but this could have used a bit more. Both of our buns fell apart midway through, they could use sturdier buns for sure. The fries fell just short of excellence -- twice fried with a nice crunch, but no color to them and the aioli didn't seem particularly garlicky. My son gave the lemon bar a thumbs up but wouldn't let me have any. So, a nice place for a quick lunch or dinner with the kids, but I think actually prefer Spitz when in that neighborood.

                  1. Tried it this weekend. The burger w/Gruyere was pretty good. On the one hand, you have to ask why you're paying $6 for a burger, when you can get the same burger for $1.50 or something two blocks down the street at Pete's, but it is a good burger. Then again, the burger across the street at the Coffee Table might be better.

                    My wife got the pulled pork sandwich, and was horrified to find that it had mayonaise on it! They lose some points for that one, but I thought it tasted pretty good.

                    The Belgian fries were excellent when they arrived. 10 minutes later, they were rubbery and gross. I guess that's just the nature of the beast. I liked the garlic dipping sauce, was on the fence about the homemade ketchup (nice bit of spice to it, but seemed a little salty?).

                    Shakes were unavailable, which was sad because that's actually what I was most looking forward to.

                    No real complaints about the decor--it's supposed to look like an old burger joint, and it does.

                    In short, a nice addition to the neighborhood, but not a place I'm likely to become a regular at.

                    1. I stopped in at Oinkster on a Friday night b/c Casa Bianca had an hour-long wait and was surprised to find that there was almost no one there. Since I don't particularly enjoy sitting in an empty restaurant, my boyfriend and took ours to go. I had the Oinkster pastrami; he had the pulled pork sandwich.

                      Pastrami was mediocre; the bun was soaked through from the oil of the pastrami, the gruyere was clumpy and the slaw was somewhat soggy. The meat itself was fine, but since the whole sandwich fell apart I ate the meat itself with a fork. I'll be forgiving and say that it was due to it being take out, but still, it was only a five minute car ride back! The pulled pork sandwich was great, and the chipotle ketchup really helped it out. The two sandwiches and two drinks came out to about $25. Not a bad price, but food could of been better.

                      And P.S. Chowpatty, I must agree with you that gruyere doesn't equal gourmet. I'm so sick of places adding gruyere for the sake of gruyere!

                      1. Could you please give me an address and phone.

                        1. Could someone please give an address and phone. Thank you

                          1. Oinkster
                            2005 Colorado Blvd.
                            Eagle Rock, CA

                            1. After trying it again last week, I'd say "why bother?"...

                              Yes the Pastrami sandwich is now a relatively normal size (it's still not overstuffed by any means). However that pastrami has much more in common with Johnny's Pastrami and The Hat than with Langer's. Add to this the still problematic service. How could one single order get screwed up THREE TIMES? First, mustard when none was specifically requested, then no fries were included with the combo, and finally no sauce for the fries when the missing fries problem was fixed. Twenty minutes for a simple to go order, with no customers ahead of me. The plus side is that the crew did comp me a brownie.

                              Perhaps if the hype wasn't so extreme (and the prices reflecting the hype), my response wouldn't be so negative.

                              1. I was one of the many who was disappointed after my first visit (day after they opened) to Oinkster. I didn't think it was fair to post a review since they were still working out the kinks. I went back on Saturday and ordered the burger, pastrami sandwich and fries.

                                I was skeptical since my first experience was not very good but I was pleasantly surprised to find a vast improvement in the food.

                                I noticed comment sheets next to the register, and based on what I have seen I think they are taking all the feedback seriously. I hope the initial negative reactions to this place do not scare people away.

                                1. I used to ditch class and eat at Jims so it was nostalgic. Pastrami was soooo fatty, sides (rice and plantains) sucked. Fries are somewhat an oxymoron. I don't get the description, but I loved the aioli. I was expecting long skinny fries?
                                  Will try again so I can feel like a naughy sixteen year old ditching class. Hopefully the kinks will be worked out.

                                  1. I'll add my voice to the fray. Three of us went for lunch today, ordered the smaller combos for a total of $40 (high for a plastic and paper joint). Two had pulled pork that they liked okay, but the thin sauce on the side was questioned by both: shouldn't it be thicker and on the sandwich? The Oinkster pastrami is aptly named, I felt like a pig eating it and afterwards. Meat was a bit fatty, but I could deal with that - it's the grease. Too much of it and really impacted the bun, as others have commented. Couldn't really notice the cheese (not sharp gruyere) or the slaw (not much of it). The fries were not bad, but I'm no expert. No offer of dipping sauce sides to go with but we were given aioli mayo when mentioned - an unnecessary addition IMHO. Friendly service and would try again if in the area but not rushing back. BTW, big homemade signs saying the chicken was unavailable for a while...

                                    1. I don't get the chicken thing...I mean, they sell them at Ralph's, right?
                                      I don't think we got any sauce on the side with our pulled pork sandwich...no wonder it seemed to be lacking sauce!

                                      1. Here's Jonathon Gold's First Bite. Hardly an enthustiastic recommendation: http://www.laweekly.com/eat+drink/fir...

                                        1. Second try, two weeks later, no better than the first. I'm sorry, but I just don't care about the bonifides of the powers behind the place, my $9.74 cheeseburger combo was just plain not worth it. Burger was okay, although the bun fell apart under the onslaught of too much liquidy stuff, but no better than someplace like, say, Rick's at Riverside and Fletcher in Silverlake. The order of fries was small and despite asking for them well done they were bad - not just not good, but bad. The soda was a soda. I could have eaten the same thing, but with better fries, for about six bucks or less. My friend's pastrami was okay, but a far cry from Langer's and as a sandwich it was a disaster - it was far too oily, juicy, greasy, whatever and he really needed a fork to eat it.

                                          A guy sitting at the table next to ours declared his pulled pork sandwich to be among the worst sandwiches he's ever eaten.

                                          I don't see going back unless I start hearing absolute raves from a wide range of people.

                                          1. Had dinner at Oinkster last night with a friend. We both were in the mood for the pulled pork sandwich. I was surprised it came with mayo, and opted out of that condiment. There was a bit of a disappointment when the sandwiches came as they are pretty small. Also, I was expecting a sauced-up sandwich that would be a bit messy and instead received dry shredded pork. It was good, but we went to see what we could do about the sauce situation. They have squeeze bottles at the counter that we brought back to our table. I was squirting the Carolina sauce on every bite and the sandwich was vastly improved. It was delicious. Will be back for the pastrami.

                                            1. I find Arby's decent if you put enough sauce on it too. I don't care how hyped the restaurant is you shouldn't have to use condiments as a bandage.

                                              Sure the sandwich may have a nice smoky taste without sauce, but if you were to do a blindfold test of this sandwich next to a common pulled pork sandwich you could get from the LA County Fair, would most people pick Oinkster's over the fair sandwich? I'm not so sure. Furthermore, add to the experiment the value factor. I think anyone could easily eat 2 or more pulled pork sandwiches from Oinkster, but I don't think many people would pay for 2 or more sandwiches. That alone makes me sad about Oinkster. When you think of the name Oinkster, you should expect big portions. Double the servings or something... at least people can say that Oinkster likes up to its name. I don't think it will ever live up to the preopening hype unless they get Norm Langer himself to make the food for us.

                                              For pastrami and corned beef, I'm going to stick with Langer's and Brent's Deli. For pulled pork, I'll wait for the fair or go to any mom and pop BBQ joint.

                                              Nice try Oinkster.

                                              1. I have been to Oinkster several times since it's opening. I have tried, the pastrami, pulled pork, hamburger, and the chicken salad sandwich so far. I have yet to be able to finish a whole sandwich in one meal. I always have the other half of the sandwich for another meal. They are plenty big enough. And delicious!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: trilby

                                                  I agree regarding the whole size issue...I've never been able to finish a whole sandwich at The Oinkster unless I was starving that day. I think people expect alot- because of the funny name, because it is Andre Guerrero and because it has been a year in the making. But don't they get that everything, and I mean everything in the building is made in house...nothing comes out of a can or a freezer. While there may be opening kinks...there is a price for that concept. Sure they could deliver bigger and better than they did in their opening weeks... but who has a never ending opening budget? Surely Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali won't battle with such an issue.
                                                  Andre's comments to the media were to the effect that he'd like to do his own pastrami as well as the Langer family has done their version of pastrami...not that he planned to one up Langer's!
                                                  And they have increased the size of that pastrami sandwich from 8oz to 12 oz. The bread issus really does need addressing. The Phillipe's style french rolls don't stand up to the juicy pork or pastrami. They don't have onion rings..so the oil is pure for fries.

                                                2. I tried the pulled pork sandwich, and while I also cannot attest to its authenticity, I found it to be restrained, and even refined, but very tasty. Definitely want to get it again, and also try other menu items.

                                                  1. We tried it for a second time this past Friday and found the portions larger and more than adequate. We waited about twelve minutes for our pulled pork sandwich (be sure to grab some BBQ sauce at the counter), the pastrami sandwich and fries. Both were $8.50 I believe. Finished with a geneous hot fudge sundae with homemade fudge sauce and whipped cream for $3.75.

                                                    1. Went to Oinkster tonight. Staff was quite friendly...
                                                      1 pastrami
                                                      large belgian fries
                                                      choc. malt
                                                      carrot cupcake


                                                      Pastrami was ok, fries were cold & the place is stupid ugly. Run away.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: JonesHouse

                                                        when i went there the pastrami sandwich was small, no more than 5oz of meat, but i do guess in retrospect that is a good thing, since at that time the pastrami sandwich just wasn't that great.

                                                        i don't really care if the food is small as long as it's good and tasty and well-made (in some circles, the langer's pastrami on rye would seem small, but then again, i would even eat there at the same price if the sandwich was roughly half the size).

                                                      2. Apologies...got it wrong.. The pastrami was 7 oz. and is now 10oz.

                                                        1. Ate there this weekend. I had the Pastrami and my wifey had the Pulled Pork. Both sucked. THe Pastrami was rubbery and my teeth had to work overtime to release it from the bun, which was shit as well. Day old stale.

                                                          The pork was damn near minced meat and the flavor matched it's texture.

                                                          Service was VERY friendly and the sauce was plentiful. Fries where hot and crispy.

                                                          26 bucks for two people, two sandwiches, two small fries and two small drinks. not worth it but wanted it to be good so bad. I cried on the way home.

                                                          1. Ate there the 1st day- didn't post review but sent 1 to Andre Guerrero- info@oinkster.com I told him I'd be back in about a month, but reading these posts I'm not encouraged. There are many more negative, so-so, +&- reviews than all good.
                                                            So, I'm going to go or not based on your descriptions and reviews of the Fries. I'll just say- on the 1st day, $2.50 order had fewer fries than McD's or Burg King small for 1/2 the price and weren't nearly as good.
                                                            Are they golden brown on the outside, crispy, maybe even slightly tender crispy? Do they have good potato taste and texture inside w/o strong taste of the oil? Is the order now worth the price?
                                                            And- do they ask what sauce you want w/ fies and direct you to the ketchup, mustard dispensers?

                                                            1. Anyone who's listening...they finally got the rotisserie in, up and running!!
                                                              Nice moist chicken and a generous serving per order that comes with sides. Can be ordered 1/4, 1/2 or whole.
                                                              Maybe this place will deliver if only they'd improve the sandwich and burger breads.

                                                              Good to see a new place in my neighborhood with a large patio and a liquor license in the works. Many other new restauranteurs are really struggling with building permits in this area. I think the city committee that determines development along Colorado Blvd. forced The Oinkster to keep the place looking much the way Jim's did.

                                                              If you go, talk to ANdre himself, he's there and he's listening to the customers.