Sunday, November 11, 2012

Philippe The Original

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest and best known restaurants in Southern California. Philippe's was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who claimed the distinction of having created the "French Dipped Sandwich." One day in 1918, while making a sandwich, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced french roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take the sandwich anyway and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches. And so was born the "French Dipped Sandwich," so called either because of Mathieu's French heritage, the French roll the sandwich is made on, or because the officer's name was French. The answer is lost to history.

The specialty of the house consists of either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham served on a lightly textured, freshly baked French roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts. Swiss, American, Monterey Jack or Blue cheese may be added. To accompany your sandwich add a side of tart, tangy cole slaw, homemade potato or macaroni salads, hard boiled eggs pickled in beet juice and spices, large Kosher style, sour dill or sweet pickles, black olives or hot yellow chili peppers. There is a unique style of service at Philippe’s, that dates back to its opening, in which, lines form in front of the long deli-display counter at each of the “Carvers”. Each Carver has everything needed to prepare your meal; sandwiches, salads, soups, chili, sides, dessert, beer, wine or coffee. Philippe’s is cash only, which helps keep the lines moving. After you have your tray, you can find a spot to sit, either at a community table, a booth, or in one of the upstairs dining rooms for something a little quieter. The mustard on the tables is “HOT” - loaded with horseradish, and is a perfect compliment to your sandwich. When you are done with your meal, just leave everything on the table and a busser will be by shortly. The ambience is old school, fun, communal, and laid back.  No frills here and don't worry about making a mess - the sawdust on the floor will disguise everything!

Keith ordered the lamb sandwich with cheese and "double dipped" in the jus.  The French bread was perfectly crispy to begin with and then softened by the jus.  He also got a side of the cole slaw and proclaimed the simple preparation was his favorite kind.  I ordered a simple tuna salad sandwich on a French roll and it, too, was super tasty and classic.  The pickles in the mix were on the sweeter side than I normally like, but I ate my whole sandwich with a glass of lemonade to wash it all down.  For dessert , we shared a slice of the chocolate cream pie and it was phenomenal. Super creamy and fluffy with a thick crust.  Many other customers ordered a donut, which made Keith a bit envious, but I thought the pie was a little more special with its chocolate sprinkles.  Despite the packed crowds, the lines move fairly fast and service here is like a well-oiled engine.  They know how to get people in and out.  Check out Philippe's next time you are in Chinatown and head down a couple blocks over to Olvera Street for some touristy trinkets.  Parking is free in the adjacent lots, but you are discouraged from leaving your car there to walk around afterwards.

Total Rating: 4.05
Food: 4, Price: 5, Service: 3, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4

What I ate:
Tuna Salad Sandwich

Chocolate Cream Pie

Plus Keith ate:
Lamb Sandwich

Cole Slaw

Philippe, The Original on Urbanspoon

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