Tuesday, October 28, 2008
An LA Institution: Philippe's
Most Angeleno natives have heard of Philippe at one time or another. Since this is only my fifth year in town, I just recently stopped by. What can I say about an institution that has been in Chinatown since before it was Chinatown? What you see is what you get.
More after the jump...
Beef French Dip with Potato Salad, Coleslaw and $.79 Lemonade
This is what I ordered at Philippe. It is nearly identical to the orders of the legions of people in the restaurant on a Sunday afternoon. You'll have to navigate through the throngs to find a line at the counter. Whenever you can, snag the attention of one of the people behind the counter to take your order. I have a feeling this system works much better on slow days.
I figured that the beef sandwich would be a safe bet, although I had to fight long and hard to give up on the lamb one. Knowing that these sandwiches have maintained their popularity for so long with hardly a change gave me confidence. However, the sandwich was a soggy mess. I had no idea that the sandwiches are pre-dipped for you, a rather disgusting concept if you think about it. I resorted to picking it apart with a knife and fork. Anytime a sandwich pushes me to those extremes is going to be the last time I eat it. The beef was dry and the jus soaked bread dissolved without imparting any flavor.
The saving grace was the restaurant's amazing hot mustard. If anything, I would just buy a jar and keep it for every sandwich that needs a kick. For the record, I have a jar of Plochman's Stone Ground mustard, which is just as good but without the heat. Also, Sierra Nevada makes a great mustard. I also enjoyed Philippe's potato salad. The dill pickles added sweetness and brine, plus the paprika gave it more spice. The coleslaw was also plain but up to par. If you're looking for cheap drinks, $.79 lemonade and iced tea are refreshing but filled with so much ice that you end up buying two anyway.
What you get at Philippe's is nothing special. The sandwiches, at around $7 are even on the expensive side. But if consistency is what you crave, I'm not surprised that this restaurant is an LA institution.
Also, can anyone tell me if it's pronounced "Felipe" like in Spanish, or "Fill-eep" like in French?
Philippe's the Original Restaurant
1001 N Alameda St
$7 a sandwich, $2-3 side, $.79 lemonade/iced tea