Western Tri-Tip Sandwich — Wood Ranch, The Grove, Los Angeles

We have spoken before about the very few different options for a steak sandwich. The Wood Ranch, known for its premium meats and barbecue, which you can order in large quantities to take home a la carte, offers only the “chopped meat” version of the steak sandwich, but thankfully does it well. There are two tri-tip sandwiches on offer, and the “Western” option is a bit more intriguing. Consisting of tri-tip, Monterey jack cheese, sauteed onions and peppers, it is served with what the menu boasts is “real au jus,” which makes one wonder what was in all of those other bowls of drippings we have been consuming for years, and more importantly, what is in this one.

When I first ordered the item, I missed the “real au jus” on the menu, so when the sandwich was delivered, I feared that I had mistakenly ordered nothing more than a gussied-up diner French dip. Thankfully, the onions and peppers were flavorful and provided actual taste to the sandwich, in stark contrast to a sandwich like the tepid cheesesteak of North Carolina. The Monterey jack also brought a fine element to the sandwich, rather than being lost. This was a surprisingly well-balanced sandwich, and tasted fine both with the au jus and without. (The au jus was just as flavorful as any other au jus I have heretofore encountered, regardless of its highly-touted authenticity.) Although this wasn’t anything ground-breaking, sometimes a pleasing sandwich experience comes down to whether you can taste the vegetables.

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