French Dipping at Cole’s

By Tsz on November 20, 2009


Sometimes, it’s good to judge a book by its cover. That was how my friend and I found this historic sandwich shop–as we walked along Main street early one night, Cole’s neon sign caught our attention. We walked closer and upon inspection of the lacquered signs and gold leaf window messaging, I was drawn just like a moth to a candlelight–must be the graphic design blood in me.

After the shortest deliberation ever with my friend (literally an exchange of nods), we walked in and grabbed a open booth. While we waited for our waitress, we soaked in the interiors. Felted red wallpaper lined the sides of the dining room, with countless picture frames of black & white photos stuck in a haphazard grid. There was also antique lamps with Cole’s painted on the big glass bulbs. It was a feast for the eyes.

The food was up to par as well, as they should be since according to their menu, Cole’s was the originator of the French dip. I had the pastrami dip while my friend had their original beef dip. Since we placed our orders before 7p, we were able to get the half-sandwich and fries combo for just $5 via their happy hour special.

The combo came in a gold and black wicker basket–a generous serving of shaved pastrami on a toasted french roll, orange tinted spicy-garlic fries and a separate plate that housed a steaming cup of au jus and a single pickle spear.

The sandwich was solid, with tender beef and a crispy roll that was lightly scented by garlic oil. A short dip in the au jus gave the sandwich an extra layer of flavor as the bread soaked up the broth. Although, I must say, Cole’s has nothing on Johnnie’s in Culver City. Side note: According to Cole’s menu, they started serving dip sandwiches to accommodate patrons with bad gums. Not a very appealing story, but interesting nevertheless.

The spicy garlic fries were piping hot from the fryer as they were inadequately drained, but tasted good with the added garlic flavored oil. Now that I think about it, it tasted almost the same as the Japanese shrimp chips.

The big downside of Cole’s was their service. My friend and I suspect our waitress suffers from short-term memory lost because she tried to take our order twice, then proceeded to forget my friend’s beer order. To which he reminded her twice, and then to a different server. He gave up halfway through our meal and asked our waitress to cancel the order, but then she charged us anyways for the missing beer. It was a pity as it marred an otherwise great dinner experience.

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