Saturday, July 18, 2015

5 of 5 DeliciScore™ (From Heaven) Awarded to Tat's Delicatessen for their French Dip Sandwich in Seattle, WA on this 18th day of July, 2015 - Worth the hype.

It was my last day working on a contract with McGraw Hill Education (running standardized testing data flow for the States of Georgia and Indiana, primarily) in downtown Seattle and I talked a couple of coworkers into going out to lunch with me at Tat's Delicatessen.  Tat's is very popular Pioneer Square-based location with a pretty big, cultish following.  I'd been there once before but hadn't had their French dip, the Hot Beef sandwich.

We left the office at noon proper and I warned my fellow diners that the line would be long.  Because it was my last day on the job, I had power to coerce, and leveraged that fully.  On the walk there, I told them about my French dip blog and that I'd had French dips the two days prior.  I'm sure they thought I was weird but I almost brag about this hobby of mine at this point.  Today is Saturday and I do not plan to have my fourth French dip in a row.  We walked to Tat's through Occidental Square and a band was playing on a stage, featuring a tuba player.  Many people were out watching, dancing and taking photos as we walked on by, on our mission to dine.

Upon arrival at Tat's, the line was indeed quite long (out the door), as I had expected.  After waiting there a few minutes, a woman came out from behind the countered and hushed us: their new cash register system was running slowly and the wait would be longer than normal.  Oh well, we waited, chatted, and finally got to the front of the line, probably 20 minutes later.  During our wait, we got to watch their operations, study the menu, and watch the many people with their big sandwiches.  The vibe was good and it was very loud in there.  Paul and Kumudha ordered first: Paul got the cheesesteak and Kumudha got the vegetable sandwich.  They were both happy with their meals.

When it was my turn to order, I knew I was there to order the Hot Beef sandwich but I was starting to get very spooked (spooked is one of Uncle Arn's favorite terms) that it wouldn't have jus, as is required for a French dip.  So to verify and allay my concerns, I asked the lady, "Do you have a French dip?" And she said, "Yes, we do.  That's the Hot Beef."  I said, "Okay, I would like the Hot Beef, please."  She said, "Would you like that injected with fries?"  I said, "Sure, please."  And she yelled out loudly, "Hot beef, injected."  I laughed.  It sounded very dirty, but beef injection...those sick fucks at Tat' least they're having fun...

We got lucky and got a four-top table and waited for our order numbers to be called.  Paul and Kumudha's orders came out right away but mine took quite a little while.  At the pickup counter, finally, my sandwich (I got the 8" and not 12" variety) came out in a single brown bag and another separate brown bag for a small styrofoam cup of jus, covered and sealed with very tacky (in both senses of the word) Scotch tape.

Back at the table, I was stoked to unbox my jus and get to it.  The tape was sealed so well, though, I couldn't get the lid off and it developed a leak.  I gave up and walked back up to the counter, requesting a "jus for here", which they rapidlly provided...and in an even larger quantity, so I was even more jazzed.

I was finally able to successfully unwrap my sandwich and jus and was pretty happy with the way they both looked; it would be a good meal.  The cheese was nicely melted on top of the sandwich and stuck to the wrapping paper a little, making for a good visual.  The jus was pretty clear in color and it, too, had me spooked, but it turned out to be good jus.  The sandwich was a lot of fun as well, especially with its fun features of the hot peppers and fries.  For me, the 8" size was just right that day, especially since it was injected with fries.  The peppers added a lot and made it interesting with a bit of a pickled flavor.  The sandwich by itself, sans jus, was good, and when joined with the jus was even better. And that's what we're seeking after all, French dip fans.  There was also nice and real horseradish in it that was strong enough to give that nasal pop like wasabi does, so that was fun, too.  This application of horseradish was way better executed than the mayo-heavy horseradish that had been provided to me by Delicatus the day prior.

Tat's provides good sandwiches and a vibrant atmosphere, serious about slangin' sandwiches.  They're especially known for their Tatstrami, which as I understand is a pastrami-laden Philly.  The Hot Beef sandwich that I had was really good, special and fun and I score it a 5 of 5 for originality and overall flavor.   Overall, Tat's is a fun place and worth the wait for the experience.

  • Outer
    • Bread: 3 of 5.  Good bread.
    • Bread-coverings: 4 of 5.  Horseradish with a punch.
  • Inner
    • Meat: 3 of 5.  Good beef.
    • Cheese: 4 of 5.  Looked good, stringy.
    • Non-meat fillings: 5 of 5.  French fries and peppers.  Yes!!!
  • Jus: 4 of 5.  Good, lightly colored jus that was hot and good.
  • Overall: 5 of 5.  Tat's is a great place and this sandwich filled with fries, cheese, peppers, and horseradish is a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

4 of 5 DeliciScore™ (Great) Awarded to Delicatus for their French Dip Sandwich in Seattle, WA on this 16th day of July, 2015 - Don't overdo it.

After a fairly disappointing French dip yesterday, I wanted to give it another go in my Pioneer Square region of Seattle near work.  I'd studied online and looked at my list of French dips in the backlog and selected Delicatus.  I'd never been there before and thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

Delicatus is in the heart of Pioneer Square on 1st Ave.  I was impressed when I walked in: it was busy, looked cool and had a good, bustling vibe.  I was standing in line to order when the sandwich maker asked me what I wanted.  I answered, "The Chief Stealth Bomber", and it was on.  He told me to have a seat and the sandwich would be right out.  I found an empty table and was rapidly greeted by a server, who gave me water and then brought me a diet soda that I ordered.  I later came to find out that the soda was Dry Soda, another local Seattle staple, also located in Pioneer Square.

As I sat and waited for my French dip, I studied the art on the walls and people around me.  It was a very vibrant place and they have very large canvases of the cuts of beef, pork, and lamb.  I thought it was a nice touch.  My sandwich was delivered after not too long and I was pleasantly surprised by its appearance.

It was plated nearly open-faced, with hinge, and visible, wide-sliced dark caramelized onions on top of nice looking pink meat that was indeed roast beef.  The bread was a classic French roll nicely toasted.  The roast beef wound up being very nice and was peppery albeit not juicy like a good prime rib could be.  There was a lot of roast beef.  I couldn't see the cheese or horseradish mayo at first but discovered it later.  What is roast beef, btw?  Is roast beef necessarily brined or is that just roast beef cold cuts?

At first I just ate the sandwich to see how it was.  It was good.  It was not a buttery sandwich and instead had quite a bit of mayonnaise-heavy horseradish on it.  The sharp provolone was not prevalent.  During the course of my meal I only noticed the cheese's slightly gummy texture once.

The sandwich tasted very good, with a prominent and good onion taste.  The roast beef had a really nice pepper flavor.  The horseradish mayo was indeed good but it wasn't something that I really like; I'd rather control my own horseradish and I'd rather have it delivered in pure form rather than as a cream.  That said, dipping the pretty horseradish and onion-forward sandwich into the jus helped and made the whole experience a good one.  There was too much mayo for my taste and that made the sandwich seem heavier than necessary.

I liked the presentation of the sandwich: although served open-faced, when in hand, it folded perfectly onto itself and was an ideal size.

The jus (initially in particular) was salty, good and hot.  It made the sandwich better overall and neutralized the horseradish.  But over time, there was not enough jus and it became a somewhat gray palor caused by the mayo.  So I bottomed out and wasn't getting any jus goodness in the end, which made me sad.  Please serve people enough jus!

The caramelized onions, in my opinion, were the star of this sandwich.

It was a nice portion and served with potato chips that were just fine.

  • Bread
    • Bread: 4 of 5.  It was the right French bread.  Toasted well.
    • Horseradish Mayo: 2 of 5.  I didn't enjoy this, although it was central to the composition of the sandwich.  Less would have been good.  
    • Cheese: 3 of 5.  Didn't really play much of a role.  Nice that it was melted sharp provolone...not a common cheese.

    • Inner
      • Meat: 4 of 5.  Good roast beef, presented nicely and plenty of it. Nice pepper taste.
      • Caramelized Onions: 5 of 5.  These were really great, nicely done and very flavorful.
    • Jus: 4 of 5.  Good just in the beginning but there wasn't enough in the end.  Didn't have any special properties, per se, (like herbs) but it was good.

    • Overall: 4 of 5.  This was a good sandwich and needed less horseradish mayo.

    Delicatus is serious about sandwiches and their French dip, The Chief Stealth Bomber, is pretty good.  Fun environment and nice, responsive wait staff.  I'll go back for a good sandwich.

    3 of 5 DeliciScore™ (Good) Awarded to Rain Shadow Meats Squared for their French Dip Sandwich in Seattle, WA on this 16th day of July, 2015 - Lots of hype, flame burnt.

    Yesterday I went out to Rain Shadow Meat (RSM) in Pioneer Square of Seattle to eat and review their French dip, “The Dipper”.  RSM is pretty close to where I was working so it was a short walk away.

    The place is casual and interesting if not cool-seeming.  They display attractive cuts of meat and the kitchen is exposed to show their work off to patrons.  There's a small but interesting menu with many sandwiches listed.  They take price in their sandwiches, and I assume, their meat.  I’d been to this place once before and had The Ranger, another sandwich.  I hadn’t previously been overwhelmed by the value I got with The Ranger and was hoping that the French dip was better.  While eating The Ranger, I ran into my buddy Matt who was there eating the French dip.   Mat had all great things to say about The Dipper (“best ever” if I recall) so my expectations were set pretty high for my experience.

    I ordered from the counter and sat at the bar, right next to the cash register and watched the workers work.  I wondered which sandwich they were preparing was The Dipper.  Others were there for lunch that Wednesday and their sandwiches looked good and as if they were enjoying themselves.  After quite some time of waiting I was served my sandwich.

    The sandwich came on a rectangular white plate and came with a side of pickled vegetables, which aren't that delicious.  The sandwich was visibly blackened (burnt?) but looked fancy and I assumed it was the chef’s intention to give it to me this way.

    The jus smelled good and I studied the sandwich.  I took a bite of the sandwich alone, without dipping it, and wasn’t overly impressed.  I dipped it into the jus hoping for improvement and was still not impressed.  The bread was extremely hard...roof-of-mouth-cutting hard.  The jus had a sharp taste that I didn't really love.

    The meat was nice looking in small bits and crispy.  The cheese was there but kind of burnt.  There were quite a few chopped, caramelized onions in there and the horseradish sauce looked like visible peppercorns.

    The flavor of the sandwich with or without jus to me was actually bitter from the horseradish sauce and there was even an alcohol taste from the jus that I didn't enjoy.  I wouldn't say that I suffered through this meal but it wasn't great.

    For the price, this sandwich isn’t worth it and wasn't very enjoyable to me.  Because it was kind of fancy and it seemed liked really cared in putting it together, I give them credit, but it didn't suit my liking.

    So that leads me to the following set of conclusions:

    • Bread: 2 of 5 for it being too hard and burnt 
    • Meat: 4 of 5 for its uniqueness and crispiness but it wasn’t succulent like a good prime rib
    • Non-meat toppings: 2 of 5.  The onions were burnt, the horseradish sauce was bitter, and the cheese didn’t do anything for me.
    • Jus: 3 of 5.  It was thick, smelled good but had an alcohol taste.  It wasn’t all that delicious.
    • Overall: 3 of 5.  I didn’t care for this sandwich.  It was too expensive and didn’t do it for me taste wise.  It had bitterness, too hard of bread, and a flavor that I didn’t really love.  I can’t rate it a 5 by any stretch.  It could have been a 4 but I didn’t really love it, so it’s a 3 for being fancy and unique.

    RSM is an interesting place and they have fancy, nice sandwiches that are expensive and I'm not all that pumped.