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Apr 15, 2010 01:54 PM

Bite Bar & Bakery - "Hey,Yummy Reu-ben! Where You-ben all my life?"

I raced over to Bite at lunch today, based on all the love showering the joint from LA Ciao-hounders, and had the best darn Reuben I ever had.

DISCLAIMER: I don't much like Reuben's -- I generally find them to be a greasy mess with lousy corned beef and cheap 'kraut: plus, I don't care for Thousand Island dressing at all. So, a real Reuben lover may not like Bite's version.

This sandwich is much drier -- I had my half without 1,000 Isle glop -- than the usual oil slick. I guess it is toasted, or dry grilled perhaps, rather than doused in grease then grilled. They use REALLY, REALLY EXCELLENT CORNED BEEF, it must be made there, and it is just delish.
And the most interesting part - this fabulous homemade sauerkraut, that was like those yummy pickled onions served on cochinita pibil than regular 'kraut.

Sadly the Reuben was a daily special, not on the regular menu. However, the folks there said they were getting such amazing feed-back on it that it might be around to stay.

PS The crab sandy Dommy! raved about was also wonderful!

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  1. Hi Ciao Bob,

    We gave the reuben a whirl yesterday and it was superb. Maybe Bite should rename this Ciao Bob's Anti-Reuben. Excellent sauerkraut made for red cabbage, just enough Thousand Island to dress the sandwich, and WOW - that corned beef was fantastic. Lean but moist, flavorful, and it didn't taste like a salt lick. Like so many of their sandwiches, Bite panini-grills this sammy as well. The one thing that Bite did like a classic deli was that they loaded this sandwich with enough corned beef to feed a family of four, or one Ciao Bob. :) Great call on the sandwich, and this was on the regular portion of the lunch menu.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      So glad you got to try it bulavinaka. I think it is a really special sandwich with excellent flavors.
      And you are right about the flavor and quantity of the corned beef.
      FYI - I shared it.

      1. re: Ciao Bob

        I think your enthusiasm along with others for this sandwich pushed it over from the "Daily Specials" end of the board to a regular menu item. If Bite decides to give pastrami a shot, the Westside may have a worthy Langer's substitute.

    2. AWESOME!! I LOVE rubens and this sounds right up my alley! :D I am really loving Bite's restrained simplicity. I think this really sets them apart from the similar places, who tend to go overboard with the overload of fancy ingredients (which lead to $$$ lunches). The crab sandwich is a perfect example of that, enough good quality crab, bread and aoli to get the maximum taste and still feel like you are getting a pretty good deal....


      1 Reply
      1. re: Dommy

        If you are on the same team as Ciao Bob (I am), then this might be the one for you. You might ask for some 1000 Island on the side though - I think this might be the one ingredient that reuben lovers in general might want more of. The only thing Bite shows no restraint in is how much corned beef they can wedge between two slices of bread.

      2. Unfortunately, the Reuben was sold out when I arrived for lunch so I had to "suffer" having the Death By Pig instead--really good and served with a nice lemon aioli, salad and a tasty, split, fried cornichon [MOM, as I recall, you like fried pickles so you might want to see whether Bite's variation appeals]. The pain au chocolat warmed up was terrific and further served to soften the blow of being deprived of the Reuben.

        9 Replies
        1. re: New Trial

          Patting your back in commiseration... Now now, you will have your chance one day - you got a smudge of chocolate on the corner of your frowny mouth. :) Dropped by there today - they were pretty busy - I guess it's a popular item.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            Thank you. To make up for the loss, I will just have to get a pastrami sandwich from Fresser's instead.


            1. re: New Trial

              D'oh! Unfortunately, I'd be patting your back again - not that I wouldn't like to - I'm sure you have a nice back to pat - I mean you're a fellow Chowhound who is in need of consoling. A bummer that Fresser's is no more until further notice - a loss for the mobile Chowhound eats.

                1. re: New Trial

                  At some point I'm going to have a beef with the corny humor... ;-D>

                  1. re: Servorg

                    who knew the rebuens were good? do they make substitutions like no cheese and no thousand island on there, so i can get just that corned beef goodness with the sauerkraut?

          2. re: New Trial

            You get fried pickles along with the death by pig sandwich?? Sounds like a fantastic dill...

            1. re: mollyomormon

              If it catches on, it could become their Bread and Butter!

          3. Elizabeth just tweeted that the Ruben is now a regular menu item! YAY!! I'm having one tomorrow! ;DD


            4 Replies
            1. re: Dommy

              I think i might have to try it tomorrow, i hate when a new place opens and tempted to try it, but usually am all the way across town. and would have been perfect if Bite Bar were open later into the evening so i can get sandwiches then.

              btw, the cinnamom buns here are amazing, i think some of those best that i have had in years to go along with the exceptional chocolate croissants.

              1. re: kevin

                From a recent email from Bite, they expect to open for dinner on starting on weekends some time in June - just waiting for the alcohol license app to clear. From the tone of the email, it sounds like there's quite a few folks who have expressed interest in their "private preview dinners." So much so that they're trying to see who truly wants to show by requiring a good faith deposit since there a limited number of seats available.

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  although i don't want it to necessarily be a fancy dinner place, but somewhere where i can drop in for the sandwiches and salads, basically what it's doing at breakfast and lunch just extended into the dinner hours. that would be great.

                  although i'm presuming the majoirty of hounds would like to visit in the evening for plated dinner in the vein of california, organic joints around town.

                  once again, if you have not tried the cinnamon buns yet, that's next on your list.

                  1. re: kevin

                    I truly don't know what's going to happen. I like the casual vibe of breakfast and lunch service - I hate having to get dressed up. But I can see where things can get more formal based on previewing Elizabeth's talents from the website. They're pretty strict about segregating their breakfast and lunch service, so I have to wonder if there will be any of those items crossing over to dinner.

                    Thanks for mentioning the cinnamon bun. We did try one back around our first visit. I'm not sure if it's the same one, as I'm still working my way through many of their various items for the first time. But it was good. I think I gave it a mention in soniabegonia's original thread. "Great with coffee" is what I recall about it. But I will have to bring another one of those to the plate soon.

            2. I think Bite is absolutely fantastic and I can't wait to work through all their offerings. But I feel the need to throw a dissenting opinion out there.

              The Bite "reuben" is a tasty little panino, but if you are expecting an upscale, but traditional take on the reuben then you are likely to leave a little disappointed. At least I was.

              Lot's of things to recommend it as a sandwich. However, mine was a bit out of balance. There was too much swiss cheese, a truly minuscule amount of sauerkraut, the thinnest swipe of 1000 Island dressing. The corned beef was excellent and if one were ordering a corned beef sandwich at a higher end goy establishment like this it might even pass for generous. If a sandwich came out of a quality Jewish deli with the amount of meat my sandwich had it would . . . I don't know actually. No quality Jewish deli has ever had the nerve to offer a sandwich with so little meat. The sandwich was *maybe* an inch high, including the bread. Sorry, not going to fly for a reuben.

              Superb place though.

              10 Replies
              1. re: cacio e pepe

                i thought the above poster mentioned a hell of a lot of corned beef on t hre. also, do they make it without cheese and the thousand ilsand dressing.????

                1. re: kevin

                  My experience, expectation, or perception was different. These sandwiches are made to order so order however you like. It's not Father's Office so it shouldn't be an issue.

                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                    If you like the concept of the Reuben have you tried the "Reubenesque" sandwich at R+D Kitchen on Montana near 14th? Now that is a substantial, and delicious Reuben.

                    R+D Kitchen
                    1323 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                2. re: cacio e pepe

                  I view your review as a ringing endorsement . I love small sandwiches. I detest those deli sandwiches, where all of the meat is piled high in the center. Any time I have ever looked at a Reuben sandwich, it has turned my stomach. Now, a description of a good corned beef, sauerkraut panini (hold the cheese), is my idea of a perfect sandwich. I hope that Elizabeth has figured out that there is a market for those who love deli (e.g. Reuben) but abhor huge deli sandwiches. A new trend? Would like to think so

                  1. re: maudies5

                    I certainly hope so... but I think it might be another great example of Elizabeth's minimalist style. Just enough to get the hint and taste, but the star is allowed to be the STAR. I love what she's doing.... :)


                    1. re: maudies5

                      I'm surprised that you found my description a ringing endorsement. It was intended to be a solid endorsement, but one with reservations. It wasn't that it was a small sandwich or that I wanted more corned beef. There were two issues. The first was that this sandwich veers far enough away from a traditional reuben so as to be potentially disappointing to those expecting a certain sandwich. That doesn't mean that it isn't a great sandwich if you know what you're getting yourself into. The second problem was more important, though not a deal breaker: the ingredients were out of balance. There was too much cheese for the amount of meat so that the purchased swiss cheese overpowered the house cured corned beef. Not a good call. The 1000 Island dressing was so slight that it was only barely detectable and it needed to be amplified. Last, the unctuous cheese, meat, and creamy dressing need a robust acidic counterpoint which the sauerkraut provides. Bite makes their own and I wanted it to really shine. There was just too little of it on the sandwich to properly balance the richer elements of the sandwich.

                      It was a *good* sandwich that fell short of greatness. There really isn't a "star" in a reuben. That's its greatness. Ideally, it's a perfect democracy of the grainy toasted rye, moist, rich corned beef, nutty swiss cheese, the creamy tang of 1000 Island dressing, and the sharp acidity of the sauerkraut.

                      On a side note (ha!), the excellent mixed greens that accompanied the sandwiched were undressed. Just had nothing on them. Does anyone know if that's standard or was it an oversight? I was going to ask about it but got distracted by the fantastic dessert.

                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                        Well, I certainly see your point about expectations, that is why after a couple of visits, I began to notice that Elizabeth has this style of putting one ingredient into the fore front. Such as the case of the crab sandwich that has other wonderful sounding accompaniments, but the overall taste and ingredient used is the crab.

                        Further, if you take a look at the picture of the Crab salad plate I took, you notice the salad that accompanied it, has VERY slight dressing. In fact, when I recalled it for a post, I could not remember any dressing at all. So again, I think it's just what she's going for...


                        But as you BRILLIANTLY noted in your post above (I loved it!) another thing I absolutely love about bite is how responsive everyone has been to suggestions and inquiries (almost to the point of instantly!) So I'm sure they can give you a bit more vinaigrette or correct the oversight if there was one.


                        1. re: Dommy

                          Hi Dommy!,

                          I'm onto the crab sandwich next as it was a really tight call between that and the reuben on my first visit. The picture you linked to has me pretty excited about it.

                          My salad was truly bare, but I recognized the greens from Maggie's Farm (I think . . .) and they were spectacular. A very light dressing would be the way to go. I think someone might have forgotten to dress mine. No big deal.

                          Just had the pop tart that one of the girls said "wouldn't last" for the next day. Whoa! Pretty special. I recommend stopping by for lunch around 2:30 pm and seeing what else they want to give away at the end of the day.

                    2. re: cacio e pepe

                      >>You might ask for some 1000 Island on the side though - I think this might be the one ingredient that reuben lovers in general might want more of.<<

                      I posted this above as a heads-up to those who were expecting a classic dripping reuben. I don't know if it would have helped the whole cause, but... I guess also that you perception of a lot of meat is different than mine. Sorry...

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        I had the reuben today. I was there with my son and we both ordered the reuben. He also ordered a cup of the day's soup, which was asparagus and so delicious. We loved our sandwiches. Ordered both with 1000 isle dressing on side. That dressing has a bit of a kick to it. That sandwich is truly marvelous and I am not big on deli. I was happy to see that nearly every table was occupied (it was around 12:30). The server told me that they are getting busier by the day. Good to hear. I wish Elizabeth all the success in the world. She deserves it.