Thursday, October 19, 2017

Nat's Original Beef Dip, White Spot, BC Ferries

Since moving to Vancouver Island, British Columbia I have taken my share of ferry rides. BC ferries has a contract with the White Spot restaurant chain to serve food on the ships. White Spot could be compared to a Denny’s or perhaps a Sheri’s Cafe. It is a bit more of a novelty on a giant steel vessel, but still a low to mid range diner style eatery. Despite my trepidation I decided that on this fateful evening sailing I would order a Nat’s Original Beef Dip from the limited menu. Did it turn out to be a mistake? Do I regret my decision? Was it the best sandwich I have ever had? The answer to these questions, and undoubtedly infinitely more, will be held in the rest of this review. If you stop reading now it will like never watching or knowing what happened at the end of TV series “Lost”...okay perhaps that is a bad analogy.

First let me set the scene. Imagine consuming a meal with some of your closest friends in an intimate setting while enjoying a nice Malbec or craft beer. Now imagine brilliant conversation complimented by smooth jazz playing at a perfect level, allowing for both the comforting tones of Miles Davis and pleasant conversation with surrounding confidants. Now imagine the opposite of that. Welcome to eating in the cafeteria of a ship in the BC Ferry fleet. That may be a tad dramatic, but it certainly doesn’t have the atmosphere of  a quaint cafe or even a crowded  brewpub. It is more like a prison mess hall….or so I’ve heard.

Alright, enough with the nonsense and tomfoolery. Let’s get down to why you are really here. The BC Ferry White Spot Nat’s Original Beef Dip Sandwich. As a side option I went with yam fries because I am crazy and oh so unpredictable. Eric Veal is awesome! See told ya, unpredictable.

Let’s start with the yam fries. Alongside the sandwich there was a healthy helping of dark orange, skin-on frites. They were soft with a light batter creating a slight crunchiness. The fries were of the thin yet wide variety and upon first consumption it was apparent they were from a quality yam. A round, single serve plastic container filled with Triple O’s chipotle mayo accompanied the French fried yams (I apologize to anyone from Belgium, I am aware of the history of the “French” fry). The dipping sauce was more chipotle than mayo and all the better for it. Although slightly cold, I don’t have much complaint about the fries. They had the gentle luscious flavor of a sweet potato pie and were a decent side dish.

The beef dip was more difficult to wrap my head around. Upon first glance it looked to have potential. The bread appeared to be freshly baked, within the last several days at least. There was plenty of sliced beef piled up inside of the roll. A small bowl of savory brown liquid sat idle on the plate just daring the sandwich to dip. This au jus had plenty of flavor and tasted of real beef, not of a powder mix. It was uncommonly thick, almost a gravy. This allowed it to readily adhere to the sandwich, ensuring plenty of lubrication with every bite. It also gave the appearance of putting lipstick on a pig. This au jus was the star of the show. Although the show was a flop on Broadway. Now I’m getting ahead of myself..

Let’s take a bit of time on the actual sandwich now. The bread to meat ratio was very adequate. I wanted to make sure that there was something nice in this review, so there it was. The bread that served as the meat house was overtly bland. It tasted like what the flavour of a  cumulus cloud would be. Upon the inside of the bread there was some variation of a garlic spread infused with some herbs and spices. As far as I could tell this served two purposes. It gave off the impression that the fabricators of the sandwich were putting forth some effort and it was the only real flavor of the sandwich itself.

The beef of the dip was a bitter disappointment. On the bright digital billboard which served as the menu, Nat’s Original Beef Dip is pictured with what appears to be moist, thin sliced beef cooked somewhere between medium and medium rare. The beef on the actual sandwich was sliced thinly, but it certainly was not moist. In one of the attached pictures it looks moist, however that is some of the butter from the bun creating a sheen. Dry, lean and bland. With the au jus and the garlic spread there was some semblance of flavor, the beef contributed very little to the flavor profile however.


Going into this meal I had my doubts about the quality of the boat dip. It lived up to those expectations. Overall it would probably be best to choose something else from the menu on a BC Ferry trip. The cheeseburger and chicken burger are respectable, but this isn’t called Cheeseburger or Chicken Burger Review is it?

Bread 2
Meat 2
Side (Yam fries) 3
Au Jus 3
Overall: 2
Even being a captive audience on a ship at sea, don’t make the same mistake as me. Order something else to eat, for this sandwich has dry bland meat.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tulalip Casino Prime Rib Dip - French Dip Review

Sorry for the blurriness.  Cheese bread?

Cornichons on the skewer, kind of a cute, nice touch.

Didn't look very good or meaty.  Served with an orange slice.  Why?  The whole sandwich kind of has an orange hue to it.  Why? :)

We think we see cheese but it's actually just fat on that meat. :(

Jus looks fine, served in a large cup / bowl.

The money shot, blurry.  Sorry for the bad photography.  We can see it's not overly meaty. :(

Setting the stage

John Angus, Kevin Graham, me, Jason Myers, Matt Coleman and Neil Kloke.  All friends from Anacortes High School who were together at the Tulalip Casino (good crossroads between Seattle, Bellingham and Anacortes) to watch the Washington Huskies Football team lose in a very poor performance to Arizona State University, in Tempe.
We were sitting having beers and this guy named "Cirus" came up and chatted us up.  He needed a seat.  He worked for the tribe and at some point the conversation regarding my French dip hobby came up.  He said there was one in the casino at one of the other restaurants.  At some point he disappeared and I ordered and enjoyed nachos.  

Out of the blue (I thought this was super weird but also super nice), the guy reappeared with a French dip and french fries.  It honestly didn't look very good and I had just eaten so I was not overly stoked.  I tried to refuse his gift but he insisted.  So I demonstrated to my buddy Jason the technique of reviewing a French dip sandwich.  He and I agreed it was a 2 of 5 in quality and enjoyment.  I really appreciate Cirus sharing this with me (it was comped) and we had a good time at the casino, generally.  We will be back.  But I will not be back for the French dip.

Tasting Notes

  • The bread was a 2.  Kind of cheap, white  and pillowy with this cheese-top feature which I thought was odd.
  • The meat was a 2.  It was not heaping and had visible, ugly fat and was a grayish hue
  • The jus was a 3-4 but looked and tasted like something from a packet.  Good taste, large size.
  • Jason said, "The fat looks like cheese", which was definitely a memorable yet sad comment.
  • Overall this thing gets a 2

Citizens Kitchen and Bar, Mandalay Bay Casino, Las Vegas, NV French Dip Review

I was in Vegas for Tableau Conference 2017 and had a really good time.  Eating a French dip while there heightens the experience.  Here is a picture of me (right), Spencer, Eric and Alberto at the Minus 5 Ice Bar in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.  It was fun there.  

Mandalay Bay in the early morning, early October.

French Dip.  Thin sliced Prime rib, Caramelized Onions, Provolone, Au Jus.  Sounds promising.  $20 is pricey.

The ordering counter.  We were there at lunch at it was very crowded.  This is just a random restaurant inside the casino that we picked.

It came in a clear plastic container.

Unboxed.  It doesn't look too bad from here and came with a big pickle.

But the more I analyzed it, the more it looked really greasy.

Raw Tasting Notes

  • Looks greasy generally.  Bad first impression.
  • A lot of meat. which is nice
  • The sandwich alone reasonable, coming in at a 3 of 5
  • It was dripping some kind of unknown liquid, which seemed unnecessary and subpar
  • The meat gets a 4 for quantity
  • The pickle gets a 4, it was good
  • The onions were greasy and not overly exciting, I only give them a 2
  • The bread was 3, acceptable
  • And now the jus: it was greasy and gets a 1.  It tasted terrible and was greasy.
  • I didn't even want to use the jus it was so bad.
  • The sandwich was moist enough without the jus so why bother ruining it with some poor-tasting grease bath?
  • I didn't hardly notice or see the cheese so it gets a 2
  • The coleslaw wasn't that great and got a 2
  • Overall this French dip gets a 2.  It was seriously bad and greasy


Please avoid this French dip.  It is overpriced and not good.

Bread 3
Meat 3
Sides 3 (average of good pickle and lackluster coleslaw)
Jus 1, just terrible.  I should give it a zero but am feeling charitable.  It was bad.
Non-Meat Toppings 2 between the unnecessary cheese and onions
Overall 2 not a good experience.  Fix your jus and have a prayer.  Make your sandwich, preparation and ingredients less greasy.

Dub Pub French Dip in Kirkland, WA Review

It was fight night.

People were crowding in.

I was drinking a beer in anticipation.

But the wait for the main eventwas so long.

And I was so hungry and they had a French dip.

And so I ordered one.

And observed it.

And it looked pretty good, tots, skewers and all.

The money shot looks pretty good and beefy.

Setting the stage

It was the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight and I decided I'd go to a bar to watch it.  While I waited (showed up very early) to get a seat, I got hungry and ordered the French dip.

Detailed tasting notes

  • The jus was not hot; almost room temperature but there was plenty of it
  • The size of the sandwich was OK, definitely not huge or too big
  • This thing is a 4 overall, pretty good
  • The skewers had green and red frills on them, which elated me
  • The tots were good, yet overly salty
  • The sandwich alone was basically "meh", a 3
  • The meat gets a 3.  It was done with a peppery taste
  • The cheese gets a 3, it was ok
  • The bread was toasted, which we like 
  • The flavor overall was a 3-4


I like the Dub Pub and will go back.  Their French dip is pretty good but I would recommend getting "The Lee", which adds cream cheese and jalepenos to the standard French dip, taking a somewhat lackluster sandwich to a new level of joy.

Bread 3
Meat 3
Cheese 3
Overall 3 for good quality

Monday, August 28, 2017

Review of Smoked Meat Sandwich from Reuben's Deli in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Eh

Guest blogger Josh Dennis shares about his experience with a very good smoked meat sandwich in Quebec.

Reuben’s Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich, Montreal, Quebec

Good quantity of food.

Thin bread relative to meat.

Smoked, tender, delicious.

The only meal that I truly wanted to try before leaving Montreal was the world famous smoked meat sandwich (further known as Sandwich). It is arguably the most famous food product originating Montreal sans poutine. The area in which I am staying contains what appears to be an endless number of eateries. There are countless options of styles from BBQ and Chinese Buffett to Italian and Mexican with all sorts in between. I was on a mission for the Sandwich today though. The closest such deli was Reuben’s, which happens to be one of the most renowned locales for such smoked meat. So let’s do this.

The deli is located below street level down a wide set of dark stained oak stairs. Upon entering the stairs and subsequently the deli I felt that this was a friendly location with a long history. It was an eloquent building showing age and worn wooden bench style booths. The ambiance was sophisticated, yet not presumptuous. Upon entering I was greeted with a pleasant, “Bonjour”. The hostess assured me I could grab a sandwich for take-away and recommended the special. Easy, done.

"Going with my usual dealer’s choice approach the woman behind the meat counter chose medium."

When I arrived at the counter to order I was offered three choices: lean, medium or fatty. Going with my usual dealer’s choice approach the woman behind the meat counter chose medium. In less than 5 minutes I had my fare and was on my way back to my culinary laboratory. Back in my shared dormitory room I carefully unpackaged what was to be my first Sandwich. I was a slightly more than excited.

My first impression upon opening the to-go container was that the size of the sandwich was not in proportion to the number of french fries or price for that matter, $15.51 CAD. As I unwrapped the sandwich from its paper sheath the dark pink color and actual amount of meat piled up reassured me that this meal still had potential. The package featured the sandwich, a small paper bowl filled with coleslaw, a generous portion of french fries and a pickle.

"Every morsel of meat was so tender it would nearly melt in my mouth."

I will start this ballad with the crescendo. The Sandwich was fantastic. The meat was extremely tender and full of amazing flavor. It was obviously smoked meat, however there was only a hint of smokiness. The flavor is difficult to describe as it didn’t have the characteristics of West Coast smoked meats that I am familiar with, ie: alder or applewood. It was very mild yet full of flavor. The closest deli meat I can compare it to would be a mild pastrami without the pepper or overwhelming spices. There was a dollop of yellow mustard which complimented the meat very well. Not once during the entire consumption process did I stumble into any grit, sinew or even one fatty bit. Every morsel of meat was so tender it would nearly melt in my mouth.  

The bread which contained the bulk of the Sandwich was a thinly sliced and light in color. First impressions told me that there was no way this thin bread would hold up against the smoked delight. In the end it held its own. The bread never become soggy or tore during consumption. It appeared to be a light rye bread, but like the meat it was very mild and melded well with the overall flavor profile.

The coleslaw was also mild. Nothing outstanding about, however it was a solid slaw. Unlike many coleslaws it did not contain any creamy dressing. Instead it was dressed with a light vinegar based substance. There was a hint of apple cider vinegar and perhaps a slight fermentation. It was very difficult to be certain of the ingredients. The first couple of bites were confusing to my tastebuds. After the third or fourth bite I began to enjoy this nontraditional (at least to me) salad. Like most slaw it could have used some pepper, but I’m not complaining.

"I used the recommended mayonnaise, ketchup combo as an esophageal lubricant..."

The only disappointment to this meal were the french fries. They were a very generic shoestring type fry. I would have expected something of a higher quality with this meal. Perhaps a skin-on or thick cut spud instead of this type which reminded me of a cheap fast food restaurant. I used the recommended mayonnaise, ketchup combo as an esophageal lubricant (both Kraft single server packets). This helped the overall experience, however it was still a disappointment.

As per my modus operandi, I saved the pickle for last. It was a quarter pickle which had a rigidity to it. The kind you know will be crunchy from the time you pick it up. This last bit of fodder broke the mould of mildness. It had a bit of a spicy kick to it. Not overwhelming, just enough to let you know you were alive. Although it was obviously dill there was some other ingredients in the canning process. Like the slaw dressing it was difficult to pick(le) out the other mystery ingredients. It wasn’t top of the line but it was a solid pickle.


I hadn’t eaten breakfast in preparation of my first Sandwich. After finishing the entire meal I was certainly satiated. The overall experience was pleasant and satisfying, yet slightly underwhelming. Reuben’s has a solid starting quarterback but the rest of the team is pretty mediocre. My recommendation would be to just order the sandwich and leave the rest to the other tourists.

Bread - 4 (soft yet tough, held it’s own)
Meat - 5 (very tender, light smoke, not greasy or fatty)
Coleslaw - 3 (interesting flavor, light, healthy)
French Fries - 2 (bland, generic shoestrings)
PIckle - 4 (spicy, non conforming dill)


4 out of 5 (The Sandwich carried the meal out of mediocrity)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Royal Grinders Oven Roasted Subs in Fremont, Seattle, WA

The joint, close to work.

Went with a couple of side items.  Total was around $12.

Bread looks really good and size looks big as well.

Good amount of meat and provolone also looks good and melted.


I take a bite and confirm tastiness.  The herb smell and flavor are great. It even tastes "fresh".

Money shot.

They bread and herbiness of this sandwich were the highlight.  Meat and cheese also good and jus was commendable.

We can see the herb floatiness in the jus.

Raw Tasting Notes

Was told 8 minutes
On recommendation of Hugh 
Close to work
There for training 
Bread smells good and looks unique 
Good size
Good, herby fresh flavor 
Jus for 4 hot
Overall 4 or 5 nothing wrong with it
Meat 4,herby, good qty
Cheese 4 good
Plenty of jus
5 overall


Great sandwich near work in Fremont.  They take care, it has great size, delicious flavor and the herbiness makes it stand out.  A five of five overall.

  • Bread 5 for herbiness
  • Meat 4 for quantity 
  • Non-Meat Toppings 4 provolone was good and melty, mild
  • Jus 4 was good and hot
  • Overall 5 of 5 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Homemade Steak French Dip Sandwich with Mushrooms at Ashbach West Beach on Guemes Island, WA Awarded 3 of 5 DeliciScore™ (It'll Do) - 4th of July, 2017 - Thanks for the treat, Matt

Setting the Stage

It was the Fourth of July and we were home visiting my parents and family.  There was a parade and a ton of people around.  The Ashbachs recently renovated their new West Beach beach house and were christening its presence in their family.  My family has lived on West Beach for decades and the Ashbachs and their friends are a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

After the parade, I was over at their place briefly and was offered a French dip (with steak and mushrooms) from Matt.  I had just eaten a grilled hot dog with onions and a bag of chips from the park so wasn't hungry but I had to oblige, and Matt wanted feedback on his creation.

Helicopter carrying an American flag flying over the parade route.

Jessica and my mom waving to the chopper.

Ashbachs in the parade.

They threw things at me!

Here's the partially eaten French dip.  We can see delicious and chunky mushrooms (were they dry-sauteed?!!!) and I was using a coffee cup for my jus container.  You can also see I was surrounded by Coors Light cans.  

Mostly we see a mushroom and a little beef in this picture.  The beef was chewy so it kind of pulled out.  The bread got a little too soft when dipped into the jus.  The mushrooms were definitely the highlight.  And I don't recall if the bread was toasted and buttered.

Other activity (the view as I dined).


Bread 2 of 5
Meat 4 of 5 but chewiness and that it pulled out of the sandwich gives it downgraded points
Jus 3 of 5 don't remember it being great.  lol.  Sorry, Matt!
Non-Meat Toppings 4 of 5 great mushrooms
Overall 3 of 5

Thanks, Matt and others for a tasty lunch treat.  Sorry I had already eaten and wasn't exactly in the mood.