As a longtime Eagle Rock resident, I watched Oinkster go up with some curiosity and a little bit of annoyance. All the good, cheap little burger joints and taco stands and hole-in-the wall places (and Toppers, but I digress) are being replaced by shiny happy food like (the late and not-so-great) Dantes and (the yet-untried) Taco Spot. Don't even get me started on Coffee Table... I figured Oinkster was another one of these but still couldn't resist poking my head in there on opening weekend. I wanted a milkshake. They had no milkshakes. And so I left, not to return until recently.
We ordered cheeseburgers, fries, a shake and an "oinksterade". Nobody in the group liked pastrami and we feared the chicken couldn't possibly live up to Zankou.
Wow, these burgers were great! Medium-rare without even having to ask, generous amount of cheese, and yummy homemade dressing. Fries were soggy and unimpressive, but the accompanying sauces were good (though you only get 1 free -- 50 cents each after that). The oinksterade was fantastic -- lemonade and orange juice, sweet and tart at the same time and not too watery as I feared it would be. I even ate the ice in the cup to get the last bits of flavor. But the shake was absolutely fantastic. Topped with real whipped cream and having just enough balance of ice cream to mik, it was meant to be shared but was quickly devoured before it could be.
One interesting note -- I compared their takeout menu with the one they gave us that first weekend. Their burger and fry prices have actually gone *down*. I think maybe they realized that the burger and fries were their draw, not the pastrami. In any case, it's still expensive for "fast" food ($5 burger, $4.50 shakes) but well worth it.
The burger was my fav too.... The pastrami is too pepper-y and too fatty; nothing like the splendor that is Langer's. I hope they keep working on the formula of the Oinkster, but right now, if I want to eat sandwiches in Eagle Rock, I'll hit Spitz. P.S. Why's the pork sandwich so pricey?
I think the pastrami isn't really meant to be a clone of Langer's, but it's still a tasty sandwich. It's a shame you ended up with soggy fries. A friend and I arrived at 11am for lunch and our fries were perfect (and even got extra dipping sauces for free --sshh don't tell--).
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Personally I enjoy shiny happy places. I really like Cafe Beaujolais. I think the food at the Coffee Table is good. Auntie Ems is a fun place to grab a bite. I look forward to Larkins.
I guess to each his own. I like to have choices and Eagle Rock has them.
I certainly looked forward to the "Oinkster concept" before it opened. Now I can also say I like them because they evolve and improve. After a little hiatus a return visit shows them at a good place to me:
1. Fries are consistent now. I forgot to order 'WD' and mine were more than passable.
2. Aioli no longer has that raw garlic harshness too it/ is a nice mellow garlic-mayo.
3. Everything was there, no need to check/everything in the bag, take-out by name (no #), and I even think the burger has improved or settled into a something better than it was.
A handful of friends and I have been regulars @ OINKSTER a month or so after it opened and, truth be told, we've never had room for dessert except for a one-time split order of the pumpkin pie shake after sampling damn near the entire menu.
Here are my highlights:
Initially, in our first few visits, I must say that I was disappointed. "Belgian style" was advertised. What I got was a limp Kennebec version of In N' Out. How that
time has passed. These are now, if not the best fries in the city, then at worst, top 3. The aioli is vampire-warding real.
Home cured pastrami
A tad salty for my taste but, the home cure and smoke make it far superior above what were used to out here. I'm a child of the 2ND AVE. (Oh, how I mourn thee still. Next week will be my 2nd Tribeca Film Fest without my usual visit.) and LANGERS schools and this is as solid as I've had in SoCal.
The pulled pork
Tender, tangy-sweet and infused with more of that awesome smoke. A very satisfying sandwich.
I'm not entirely sure why it took me this long to do so but, I had my first ever Tuesday. I specified medium well and had to send it back but, what I got was a savory, flavorful and juicy patty with crisp lettuce, firm tomato and sweet raw onion enveloped in a slightly sweet but, sturdy and tasty bun. I opted for Gruyere as my cheese and I was not disappointed.
Not the sandwich but the 1/4 white and dark plate. I've ordered it twice and thought the bird was juicy and well-seasoned but, amongst the other entrees, it was the Luke Walton of the lineup: A fan favorite for some but, perhaps not a starter on another squad.
Finally, that Ube shake? Ohhh yes, that Ube (pronounced 'Oooh-bay') shake! What could be more smile-inducing than accompanying my favorite comfort foods of my youth with a milkshake flavored with favorite Filipino sweet.
This was a revelation when I first heard of it and manna when I first tasted and practically swam in it. No one else, save LOST SOULS CAFE on 4th and Main downtown does a real Ube shake (as opposed to smoothie which practically every one of your better boba houses does.). It's hands down my favorite milkshake. Ever.
Ube milkshake was totally worth the trip from Hollywood to the 626. Three guys, splitting 2 pulled pork sandwiches and 2 pastrami sandwiches. One preferred the pastrami, other preferred the pork, I preferred the milkshake over both!
Oinkster is very good, and is the best destination when you have a bunch of dudes looking to fulfill a certain pork quota. My favorite pulled pork is still BLD, and my favorite pastrami not-named-Langers is Brent's.
The place was doing a lot of business but still seemed to keep pace with everyone, so it looks like after the horrific first few months, Oinkster is doing just fine.
The Pastrami debate, to me, surrounds not the expert, smoky peppercorn flavor or the divine moistness of the meats, which several restaurants have achieved.
Instead, the debate for me, is "Shaved or Sliced?"
Frankly, the shaving method of Oinkster's and other LA restaurants hides all kinds of flaws in the meat. Thinly shaved slices, layered and nestled, hide gristly morsels-- and hide the beauty of the expensive cut of meat.
On the other hand, the slicing method, a la Jerry's in Marina Del Rey, displays the meat's quality for all to judge. It's a bold,singular, thick stack of cohesive brisket, sliced into strata as if it were a core sample of the earth to be studied in Geology 101. If there are flaws, and the main flaw is inconsistency at Jerry's, it's all right there to see.
The shaving method smacks of overprocessing, to me, reminiscent of those supermarket variety Buddig meats which are pressed and slice razor thin.
So, if we're celebrating this cut of meat and it's marinated, spiced perfection, I'd like to see it reflect more the juicy slab from whence it peeled.
Make sure you come at "The Magic Hour" (call to ask when it is exactly). That's when they hand-cut the pastrami.
Also, the ube shake is not a permanent item, the shakes they have there are subject to whatever Fosselman's ice Cream flavors they have in stock at the time.
And two words: PASTRAMI BURGER.
re: Normal Garciaparra
Ate there last night, and had a Fat Tire to go with my Belgian Fries/garlic aioli and pastrami sandwich/homemade hot mustard. Belgian Ales will soon be available, and a few beers are there of the moment as they just received their abc license.
Soon Belgian fries and ales with sandwich of choice - life is very good!