Monday, March 2, 2009

The Elusive French Dip Sandwich

Several months ago, I got this craving for a good French Dip sandwich. This happens to be my favorite sandwich, but one I do not get to eat very often. It is rare for a restaurant to have one on the menu that isn't all fancied up.

I've loved French Dip sandwiches since I was a kid. Part of having a roast, meant having this yummy sandwich as left overs. I love the crispy bread, warm roast beef, and salty dipping sauce. When we were first married I would make a roast for my husband and I and then enjoy the leftovers the next night. Unfortunately, my husband gave up red meat years ago and since then, I have very rarely made a French Dip sandwich at home. There are already too many meals I make where each of us is eating a different protein, that I gave up on this one.

It wasn't a big deal until about November when I had a serious craving for this sandwich.  One day, I called my husband at work and asked him to search for restaurants with this sandwich. Hoping to find a yummy sandwich at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. With good news he told me that The Barking Dog had a sandwich. Yum, I love the fries there, and it was a small restaurant so I took the boys out to lunch.

Once we had driven to Ballard, settled into our booth, figured out what they would eat, then turned to order my meal, devastation struck.  They were out of roast beef. I was in shock.  I quickly weighted my options, stay eat something else, or load up both kids drive home and make lunch. So I ordered the fish and chips. It was fine, but not what I wanted.

A few weeks later I was still wanting this sandwich. One day I was grocery shopping by myself, which is always a treat, and I decided to ask the deli if they made a French Dip sandwich. They did! I was so excited. I ordered it, waited forever, and finally was given a lovely box with my sandwich and au jus read to go!  I drove to a park, got out my book, and took my first bite of sandwich. YUCK! It was seriously disgusting. I'm not sure what their au jus was but it wasn't French Dip, it wasn't salty, or even good. I ate the sandwich but was not able to dip it, which is kind of the point.

Fast forward to February. We are in California, visiting family and we watch this show Man Vs. Food. Never had seen it before, but it was quite funny. We watched the Seattle episode, Portland episode, and finally the LA episode. Guess what was featured in LA?  Yep, the place where French Dip sandwiches were created. I watched them make the sandwich, dip it in the juice and I almost died.  My husband looked at going to LA to eat this sandwich but it was an extra 2 hours South. When you are trapped in a car with a 4 year old and a 2 year old, an extra 2 hours is not going to happen.  That was okay but it sparked the craving once again for my sandwich.

Last Thursday it snowed. Totally random, and the only school district that closed was mine, and on my one work day.  The stars were aligned, I called a friend who lived in Ballard, and asked her to meet me at The Barking Dog. I was going to get my sandwich!

I was so excited all the way there, I did not even really care that the boys are not big fans of this restaurant, I was giddy.  My friend also ordered the same sandwich and after the first bite said "Oh, this is really good". Yay! I take my first bite and think "What?? This isn't right!" The bread was soggy, the roast beef had cheddar on it, and the au jus was not salty!  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good either.  

Ugh! I think I have given up. The only place I have found this sandwich is Maggie Bluff's.  I like it but we only tend to go there in the summer.  Maybe for my anniversary this year my husband will take us there for dinner.  Either that or it is time to break down and make a roast for myself. Actually, come to think of it, I believe I have a roast frozen in the freezer. French Dip goodness, here I come. 

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I have a very simple way to do french dip on a busy night: it's not the same as our childhood sandwich, but it's good. Take a can of Campbells french onion soup, add a can of water and toss in slices of deli roast beef. Toast the rolls as usual. As the soup heats up, so does the meat, with an added plus of the meat gets the toasted bread a bit soggy. It's really good. I swear! The dipping juice is perfectly salty!