Saturday, February 11, 2012

4 of 5 DeliciScore™ (Great) Awarded to Philippe The Original for their Wet French Dip Sandwich in Los Angeles, CA on this 11th day of February, 2012 - Home of the French Dip Sandwich

I went to Philippe the Original, which purports to be Home of the French Dip sandwich.  According to Wikipedia, "Two restaurants in Los Angeles have claimed to be the birthplace of the French dip: Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet and Philippe The Original."  Although I really wanted to go to Cole's as well so I could do a head-to-head comparison/showdown, time didn't permit, so I'll have to hit it up next time!!!

Philippe is in LA and we had a great time visiting.  What follows is a mostly photo-based review of the experience, which truly is enjoyable.  I hope you enjoy the slide show and commentary!!!

There she is...from the front driving in.  It's located just short of Chinatown in Los Angeles.  We had great weather; it was mid-seventies down there in early February.  We went the day before Super Bowl XLVI when the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots by a score of 21-17 in Indianapolis.

Here's a closer view of the front of the building.  You can see the Chinatown sign if you look closely.  It's a quaint little place...

Here's more of a beautiful view of the front.  I used my real digital camera, a Panasonic with Lumix lenses, instead of my typical (not very high quality) smartphone camera.  Remember you can click on these images for originally-sized versions!!!

The Philippe sign.  French Dipped Sandwiches.  Classic.  There's a really large parking lot and tons of people appear to descend upon this place.  We went there at lunchtime on Saturday and it was busy!!!

So we walk into the place.  Note the people standing and waiting in line.  You can also see sawdust on the ground...not sure why it's there, but it definitely adds some interesting ambiance!!!  The dining is picnic-table-style places with lots of seating up and downstairs.  You can see the stairs if you look far to the back going up from left to right.  The ordering counter can be seen in the upper right.

Here we are walking into the many long lines.  It's bright with the beer neon signs and has a great, interesting, busy, authentic feel to it.  It's a real experience!!!

Here's a close-up of the sawdust shavings on the floor.  Again, I am not sure why they are there, but they're there...

Here's the view of "standing in line".  There's tons of people and everyone seems anxiously awaiting.  There's lots to look at and it's very good people-watching!!!

The fine-looking back of Jessica's head in the foreground (green sweater), looking at the menus and such as we wait in line.

There's even people lined up going up the stairs (more seating at the top of the stairs).  We decided on our order (we were in a group of four) and Jessica and I opted to wait in line while the other two in our party (Nicole and Jeremy) went upstairs to secure us a table.  Jessica stayed to help me carry the trays for all of us!!

A view of the menus from which you in order, which you see as you stand in line.   In this picture, you can see four Spanish-looking women behind the counter.  Beer on tap, chips, and they're standing in front of a long, refrigerated case where the many side-dishes and desserts live.  Philippe is known for its inexpensive coffee, lemonade, and iced tea.  Jessica said the iced tea was quite good and refreshing.

A picture of some pies that someone ordered.  In reading their reviews on Yelp, the pies are quite popular and enjoyed.  We didn't order pie...maybe next time.

I noticed this guy in a room behind the counter taking fresh bread out of the oven.  

I spotted many jars of their famous (and spicy) mustard among other supplies behind the counter.

The purple jar here is of their pickled eggs, which we ordered and were quite good.  Another famous place in the Long Beach, CA area (south of LA) that has pickled eggs is Joe Jost's.  We didn't go there, but it's recommended as an experience and I believe they have really cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (PBR to the wise).

We've made it up to the counter at this place.  It's exciting; our time has almost come for service from our server.  Note the number of dark-skinned, middle-aged women behind the counter in their same uniform.  It is super cute and looks very professional, authentic, and delicious!! important part: ordering!!!  We chose to get 1 beef (double-dipped), 1 pork (double-dipped), 1 lamb (single-dipped), and 1 turkey (single-dipped).  I did not get cheese on any of them, although they offer America, Swiss, Bleu, and Jack for a marginal additional cost.  I asked for "jus on the side", which is NOT offered.  I found this surprising but will eat it as they intend it to be, not as you want it.  I love this policy!!!!!!!  It turns out that the double-dipped sandwiches were better and tastier, and our favorite was the beef.  The lamb was good, but I didn't think great, the turkey was pretty good but Jessica thought it was bland, and the pork was good but there's nothing of note in  it.  Our "sharing method" was that between four of us, we each got a quarter of each meat-type so we got a taste of all.  Me being so excited to be at Philippe's, I ate 1/2 of the beef one so kind of messed up the agreement...but people understood because I'm obsessed.... : )  We ordered 1 of many of the sides as well to know how they taste.  Oh, and another note, the au jus is ONLY BEEF JUS.  So if you get lamb, you get beef jus...which I think is not optimal at all.  When I open my chain, I will have juses of each type, which will allow me to really dominate the market.  : )

Here's a look into the case at the front of the lines.  The server-woman uses the case to get stuff.  In the case, you can see macaroni salad, brownies, potato salad, cold slaw and really good, really crunchy pickles!!!  You can also see fresh pies sitting on top of the case and some French Dipped Sandwiches sitting on the cutting surface behind.

Here's a shot through the case of my lunch lady cutting my fresh bread.  In the foreground of this picture are ice cream scoops that are used to dish out the mayonaise-based salads (cole slaw, potato, pasta).  The lunch lady hand-makes each sandwich in front of you and DOES NOT touch the money for cleanliness purposes.  Instead, you place your money on a little plate that she brings back to the centralized cashier lady.

Here's a shot of my lady (left side) bringing my money to the centralized cashier lady.  In the foreground is another lunch lady making someone's order.  It's bustling with activity behind the counter and fun to watch, but do not delay because this is an OPERATION and many people are behind you.  Be efficient and know what you need to order!

Okay, here's our four sandwiches (1 pork, 1 beef, 1 turkey, 1 lamb).  They were delicious.  You can see the purple pickled eggs (purple is due to beet juice, FYI), and the very crispy and delicious Claussen-style pickles.  All of the sandwiches are medium sized.  The bread is very fresh and good.  The pre-dipping is fun.  The double-dipping is better and provides more flavor.  The ability to get many types of meat between your sandwiches makes for fun and variety and the option to play with cheese makes it enjoyable as well.

This is a picture of the turkey French Dipped Sandwich on a white paper plate.  The turkey is good (cut fresh by the lunch lady right in front of you) and the bread is really good.

Here's one of the rooms upstairs where you can sit (overflow seating).  It's humble quarters but sufficient and communal: our party of four sat next to another party of four and we shared the spicy mustard.  Oh, a quick comment about the mustard: it's delicious with horseradish/wasabi-style heat.

The table on the right is where we sat.  It's bright in this simple, no flair room.  Get to eatin'!

So of course I had to buy a t-shirt souvenir and wore it proudly.  This was a really fun experience for me and the food's really good.  I give the sandwiches a 4 of 5 points, which is the best that a non-gourmet French Dipped Sandwich can do.  I'll definitely go back and really do feel lucky to have visited (one of) the Mecca of French Dipped Sandwiches.  I have arrived!!!!!!!!!

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