Does it really matter who is the first or in this case, who came up with the original? Remembered when I did the review for Cole's? There is two sides to the story on which franchise came up with the first ever French Dip. The debate never ceased with the grand reopening of Cole's as they asserted the claim of "The Inventor of French Dip".
Well, for 100th anniversary last year for Philippe, they decided to add "The Original" claim for the French Dip Proclamation. Nice touch isn't it?
To examine both side of the back story, please check out my review for Cole's and decide for yourself.
When I decided to visit this place on a weekend afternoon, I was astound in the most utmost amazement that the place was jam packed at 3:30pm. The lines forming to the counter was bottlenecked that the 5 freeway from OC to downtown LA would paled in comparison. At first I was just intimidated by the lines and the amount of people waiting to order their food. The high counter seats in those aisles are serve as line dividers as people are unwilling to seat where the crowds are at. This was an absolute waste of tables and stool chairs where it can be utilized.
Once you get to the front counter, you'll realized how stupidly some people jammed the front where the people in the middle cannot get out with their tray of food. First off, it's bad if you didn't know you can lined up in the middle aisles as the line stretch out the door because some people formed a long anaconda line for the outside lines. Then when you realized you can lined in the middle, you can't get out with your tray of food after it was ready. People are just blocking every amount of space. Very poor organization in handling the crowd and under-utilizing the dining area in the main room.
After the ordeal, if you make it out alive, you can go to any part of two floors with various dining room and sit down to enjoy your meal. There are some big difference I noticed immediately between the two franchise, one which was the price. It's only $5.55 for either beef, ham, pork, and turkey (with the lamb being the most expensive at $6.75). In some ways, this place is rooted where the common folks can get a sandwich for somewhat of an affordable price and the drinks were reasonably cheap at 75 cents for lemonade and 65 cents for iced tea.
They do also serve both white and red wines in their menu for people in the refined taste. Bottled beer of various choices are also available.
Here's comes the major difference between Philippe and Cole's. While at Cole's, they put Au Jus Sauce on the side. The Au Jus sauce are usually juices leftover from meat after it was cooked. The juices are often used to enhanced the flavor of the meat. In this case, the sandwiches are being dipped into sauce bowl or cup to soften the bread at the same time.
They both used French roll bread with not much of a big difference in variations on the meat or the flavor of the au jus sauce. In Philippe's undertaking of having this French Dip sandwich, they pre-dipped the inner flat side of the bread. They often stated the customers don't like to tip the top layer bread and wanted to treat this as a sub sandwich rather than a tosquitos, while Cole's can be looked upon as such.
With a Swiss cheese in that ham sandwich, I thought the bread was going to be hard, but luckily it was soft and not crunchy at all. Here's a fair warning I must give. Philippe has a house made hot mustard that they passed out in their establishment. For me, it tasted like horse radish and was a counter balance taste to any dry or salty taste. That thing was smoking hot and I'd almost couldn't handled that.
To the rebuttal for a claim of the inventor of French Dip Sandwich in LA, there is not really much of a proof for either side on who is the first. I think both in actuality should worked on being on the best.
For Cole's, I like the bar/saloon type atmosphere and their excellent choices of cocktail. The Au Jus sauce that is put on the side was an excellent gesture because it let you decide on how much you sauce you want your sandwich to be dipped in. I also liked the selection of goat cheese in their selection.
For Philippe, the long lines of crowd suggested that they have something special. Reasonable price given for their sandwiches with down to earth service. Cash only in this place bums me out, but it was cheap enough for me not to care. Great selections of wines and bottled beer on hand for common folks to pair it with the sandwich.
In the end, which French Dip Sandwich reign supreme? Neither.
Stay tuned for the review of the place that has my favorite French Dip Sandwich in LA.Philippe The Original
1001 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles CA, 90012