Saturday, September 24, 2005

Lunch @ Philippe's

I had a craving for an oven roasted turkey french dipped sandwich with swiss cheese, and the following side dishes - pickles, beets, coleslaw; and a homemade lemonade drink. Does the menu sound familiar? If you live in LA you know I’m describing some typical menu items at Philippe’s, a landmark restaurant located in Downtown Los Angeles. Philippe's claims to be the home of the “original” french dipped sandwich and the legend of how the “French Dip” was created goes like this:

“Established in 1908 by French immigrant named Philippe Mathieu. Philippe the Original began as a delicatessen and sandwich shop. In 1918, Philippe was preparing a sandwich for a policeman and accidentally dropped the sliced french roll into the drippings of a roasting pan. The policeman liked the sandwich and came back the next day with some friends to order the sandwich "dipped" in the meat pan. From that day forward, a new sandwich was born--the "French Dip," so called because of Philippe's French heritage, the french roll on which the sandwich was made, or because the policeman's name was Officer French."

In 1927 the restaurant was sold (for around $5,000) and today is owned by the descendants of the same family.
Philippe's Then

Philippe's Now

Many Los Angelenos grew up eating at Philippe’s and their food and atmosphere have stayed pretty much the same. The food is homemade from scratch, and is yummy. It's a family style restaurant with sawdust on the floor, paper plates, and long wooden communal tables with stools. The employees still wear the same old fashioned Philippe uniforms and they still have the counter where you order your food and then take your tray and seat yourself. Here is Astrid in front of the counter smiling at all the people. Usually there are long lines at the counter but it goes pretty fast.

The way the service works is unique. There is a long display counter with 10 servers, (called "Carvers"), many of which have been working at Philippe's for well over 20 years. Each Carver has everything they need to prepare your meal. You get into one of the 10 lines, and when you reach your Carver, they take care of your whole meal; make your sandwich or fix your hot dish, serve salads or soup, give you coffee or a glass of wine, add it all up and take your money. The service is fast and friendly.

Although their prices have gone up, they're still very reasonable. The French dipped sandwiches are the house specialty and are only $4.70 each. You can choose from turkey, beef, pork, ham, (and even lamb which is $5.20). My favorite as I’ve already mentioned is the oven roasted turkey. So yummy! Lemonade and iced tea are 60 cents and a cup of coffee is only 10 cents. (So take that McDonald’s!) Coffee was 5 cents until 1977 when they raised the price to 10 cents. The reason they can keep their prices so low is that they own the building and don’t have to pay today’s rent costs.

Also available are pickled eggs and pig's feet, homemade beef stew, chili and beans, and fresh soups. In addition, a variety of desserts are offered, including fruit, cream and meringue pies, New York style cheesecake, carrot cake, specialty cakes, puddings, custards and Philippe's own baked apples.

Even their hot mustard is homemade. (They prepare about 40 gallons of their hot mustard twice weekly.)

Perfect place to go for lunch on a weekend. Good food, good atmosphere, and great prices.

1 comment:

Karissa (mommy) said...

You're making me hungry! It sounds like a yummy place. They should get one up here in ND. :)