Sunday, June 7, 2015

French Dip Review: Leroy Fox's Sweet Caroline Dip, Charlotte, NC

I've never really been one to explore dip sandwiches outside of the classic French Dip definition. I had a lamb dip once in Portland, OR, but that's about as far outside the beef, bread, and au jus realm as I've gone.

One of my favorite local joints in Charlotte is called Leroy Fox - a casual but cool chicken-centric restaurant. They are known for their fried chicken and their chicken breast sandwiches. But those are just a piece of chicken between two pieces of bread with various seasonings and accoutrements. Though everything I've had there has been excellent, I had cautiously avoided the Sweet Caroline Dip - chopped grilled chicken breast on a hoagie with au jus.

I write for a French Dip blog, so how could I not get a dip sandwich if one was offered?

As a preface to my review of this sandwich, I have to say that I am a proud father of my 18-month-old boy, Grayson. Unfortunately, having an 18-month old boy makes going out to a nice dinner quite the challenge. I try to enjoy most of my French Dip encounters while I am travelling on business and I don't have to wrestle a 30-pound, 3-foot tall little man, who wants to personally meet and interact with everyone in the restaurant, back to his seat every 6 minutes. So while not on the road, the answer is: delivery. With Postmates, GrubHub, and Charlotte's own (and best) service, Foodie Call, that makes getting restaurant food delivered fast quite easy for a parent. So please accept my "self-plated" photos. I'm sure it looks better in the restaurant.

I feared the worst - a grilled chicken "French Dip" - how 
could this possibly compare to the beef version?

Tonight, I decided to take the plunge. We were ordering in from Leroy Fox. I write for a French Dip blog, so how could I not get a dip sandwich if one was offered? I feared the worst. I mean, a grilled chicken "French Dip" - how could this possibly compare to the beef version? Is the "jus" just chicken broth? I don't know what to expect!

Well, I have to admit fault, and now I am slapping myself in the face for every time I have been to this restaurant and not ordered this sandwich. It was simply incredible - one of the best sandwiches - dips or otherwise - that I have ever had.

First off, the au jus was not chicken broth - it was a tasty, herby beef jus with just the perfect amount of saltiness. What a surprise to open that take-out container and see rich, almost opaque beef broth when I expected something nearly transparent.

The Sweet Caroline Dip. Plated on my own dishware by me. It
probably looks nicer if you order it at the restaurant!

The sandwich itself was probably perfectly fine without the broth, but I forgot to take a bite without dipping because the jus was so delicious. Large chunks of perfectly juicy, grilled, and seasoned chicken on a buttery hoagie roll (not crunchy, but not too soft), with Swiss cheese and an amazing "boom boom sauce" which added a nice spicy kick. All that, mixed with a rich beef jus, just create an amazing marriage of flavors that please the taste buds. I've never had anything like it in my life.

This sandwich blew my mind with every bite.

This sandwich was flavorful, spicy, beefy, and of course chickeney (is that a word?). It blew my mind with every bite. And when I was done, I wanted more. Not because it wasn't enough to fill me, but just because it was that delicious. I kept telling my wife for probably 20 minutes after finishing my meal how amazing that sandwich was. Seriously, I've had too many beef French Dips to count from all over the place, and this sandwich lands on my top 5 for sure - even though it isn't a "proper" French Dip!

Meaty, cheesy, spicy goodness!

You have plenty of choices for sides - Cajun fries, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes (my choice), rice pilaf, veggies, grits, and more. The mashed potatoes were delicious and creamy, with a nice white pepper gravy.

I travel the world for my job, seeking out French Dips everywhere I go. Little did I know one of the best dip sandwiches I have ever had was a mere 2 miles away from my house. Hmmm...I've got another coupon for a free delivery from Foodie Call. Maybe I'll do it again tomorrow!

The Beef Chicken: 5
The Bread: 4
The Au Jus: 5
The Portion: 5
Overall: 5

Whether you want to call it a French Dip or not (since it's a chicken dip after all), I call it a perfect sandwich.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

4 of 5 DeliciScore™ (Great) Awarded to King Deli & Sundries for their French Dip Sandwich in Seattle, WA on this 6th day of June, 2015 - Convenience has its virtues.

Last week during a very busy day at work I went in and got the French dip from the deli in my office, King Deli and Espresso, and ate it at my desk.  Going into this experience I had very low expectations; the deli is half-deli, half-convenience-store and serves pretty basic things but the people there all seem really nice and I enjoy watching the workers prepare food.  It has a really nice, family-oriented vibe to it and just seems simple and unpretentious, even wholesome.  I have a sense of "prepared with love" when I go to this place and that's a nice feeling.

I started working in this building about a month ago and since then, I've enjoyed their chicken teriyaki and spicy chicken teriyaki.  I also had their "Pizzini" sandwich, a panini with pizza-like fillings, and that was pretty good as well.  The portion sizes provided are all rather generous, too.  I had assumed that the French dip would be bland and lackluster without any unique or distinguishing features but I was wrong.

After ordering and selecting a side salad as my accompaniment, I went back upstairs to my desk to eat.  I unboxed the dip and it looked way better and fancier than I had anticipated.  It had nice provalone on it, the size was good, and you could see a pretty heavy dousing of black pepper, which is not common and was indeed a nice feature to behold.  The bread was of type classic French.  There was not a ton of roast beef on it (it could have used more in fact) but overall I was pretty pleased with the presentation.  The bread was toasted as well, probably by their panini machine but it was not flat.  The bread wound up being quite absorbent and in the end, my last two bites were without jus.  The jus came in a small styrofoam cup and was hot and good.  There was a nice deli pickle spear that I immediately ate.

As I like to do for starters, I ate the sandwich alone without jus so I could know what that with which I was working.  I was happy.  Not overwhelmed but happy.  The cheese and buttered bread made it a a good taste.  I gave the sandwich a jus-plunge and took a bite: it was even better, so I was really happy with that which I would enjoy.  I made my way through the dip and finished it all, pleased.

The provolone had its expected mild but good flavor and contributed a bit of depth to the sandwich, which I enjoyed.  While ordering, I was given the option of a potato salad but opted for a side green salad.  The salad was very simple (iceberg lettuce with ranch) yet overall was pretty good, cold and made a nice complement to the hot sandwich.

Overall, I rate this French dip sandwich and meal a 4 of 5.  Yes, it's a pretty high score for a rather basic unit under $10 but the provalone and pepper made it stand out.  To boot, this sandwich is in my building and easily acceptable so I get my dip-fix if necessary.  I'm really happy that I bit the bullet,  ordered, ate and reviewed this dip.

My apologies for not having any pictures here but you'll have to take my word that this is a good, solid, satisfying French dip that is enhanced by a nice, peppery taste with some nice cheese and portion size for under $10.