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barbecue dessert drinks Filipino pork reviews sandwiches Southern California

The Oinkster

The OinksterWhen I’m home in SoCal, heading out to Eagle Rock isn’t normally on the agenda, especially for food. But when some friends told me about The Oinkster’s house-cured pastrami sandwiches and ube milk shakes, Eagle Rock started sounding mighty nice.

The Oinkster is the brainchild of Andre Guerrero, a Filipino American chef who’s a veteran of the Southern California restaurant scene. His other restaurant, Max in Sherman Oaks, offers contemporary Pan-Asian fine dining that’s a stark contrast to The Oinkster’s laid-back, order-at-the-counter vibe. (We also took my parents to Max for a Mother’s/Father’s Day dinner, so basically it was an Andre Guerrero weekend.) We ended up going to Oinkster twice in four days and were able to try a good cross section of the menu.

The Oinkster Pastrami sandwich is a thing of beauty—pastrami with Gruyere and a red cabbage slaw. The pastrami is cured for two weeks (the old-fashioned way) according to a recipe Guerrero developed over a period of two years. It’s not a melt-in-your-mouth pastrami like they have at Katz’s in New York, but it’s definitely the some of best pastrami I’ve had on the West Coast.


Oinkster Pastrami

Aside from the sandwiches, the pastrami also tops the Royale burger, and it’s also featured in their excellent chili. If you’re from Southern California, you’ve likely had a chiliburger at one of the many Original Tommy’s hamburger stands that are down here. Tommy’s chili is legendary in L.A., so it may be blasphemous of me to say this, but…The Oink’s chili is so much better. In fact, I don’t know what I really saw in Tommy’s chili other than the novelty of it. I went back to Tommy’s with my wife a few months ago, and on its own, the chili reminded me of dog food. It really needs to be paired with fries or a burger. The Oink’s chili can definitely stand on it’s own, and it has a freshness that you’ll never get from Tommy’s chili.

Categories
French Northern California reviews

Chez Maman

Chez Maman sounds like really fancy place, doesn’t it? Well, in truth, it’s a small, neighborhood cafe that seats only 14 people, and it’s easy to see how this place could get packed during a rush. Most of the seats are at the bar, which gives diners an intimate look at how this place runs.

I ordered a burger, my wife got the Crepe Savoyarde and our friend ordered the Croque Madame. We also split an order of frites and a side of ratatouille. The cook was fast, efficient and truly a sight to see, working by himself to make all of our dishes with only seconds to spare before foods went from perfect to burnt. It went a little something like this:

– Slap burger down on the grill
– Drop frites in the fryer
– Assemble Croque Madame, place in panini press
– Move to crepe station and start the Crepe Savoyarde
– Flip the burger
– Flip the crepe
– Pull frites out of fryer
– Finish Crepe Savoyarde
– Start egg for Croque Madame
– Assemble and plate burger
– Remove Croque Madame from panini press, top with egg
– SERVE!



Amidst all the action, I can’t remember when the ratatouille made its appearance except when it showed up with the rest of our food. I’d never had ratatouille before, but after seeing the movie, I wanted to give it a try and was pleased to discover that it’s a very simple and hearty dish.

Frites were perfect. If you’ve had perfect frites then you know what I mean.

My burger was really good. I had it with swiss and bacon, and the combination was pretty amazing (but then again, in my book, it’s really hard to screw up a bacon cheeseburger.) I’m not normally big on round burgers on square bread, but the bread was pretty damn good. It did start falling apart at the end, but I didn’t really mind.

My wife’s Crepe Savoyarde was cooked perfectly and you can’t really go wrong with a tomato, bechamel, prosciutto and brie filling.

I’m really big on fried eggs in (or on) sandwiches, so when I saw our friend’s Croque Madame, I got really jealous. A sunny egg tops a ham-and-cheese sandwich on pain de mie that’s pressed like a panini to get those appetizing grill marks. It was beautiful. Apparently it’s so good that it’s the only thing Sooj has ordered here. I’m definitely getting this next time.

We finished off the meal with some great, perfectly cooked sweet crepes. Our friend ordered the Crepe Tatin (carmelized apples with creme chantilly) and ours was filled with Berries and Creme Fraiche.

Chez Maman may not look like much when you first walk in, but grab a seat at the bar so you can witness and taste the magic.

INFORMATION
Chez Maman
1453 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107 map
415.824.7166
Web site
Chez Maman on Urbanspoon