Slow Roasted Pork — Four Cafe, Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles

In sandwiches, as concerns most others things in life, it is not often necessary to try to gimmick up a sure-fire winner. If you must have your dalliances and whimsy, either work out your quirks in the comfort of your own home, or make your entire enterprise reflect that you are not to be taken seriously with regard to the art of the sandwich.

Four Cafe is a fine establishment, serving fresh fare with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options and with an eye toward healthful menu items. They have a seasonal menu and some of their winter offerings were quite spectacular indeed. Unfortunately, it is now spring, and they are featuring a pulled pork sandwich that does grave disservice to the genre.

Pulled pork, of course, is often married with citrus (specifically orange juice), utilized in a wide range of marinades and mojo sauces, etc. What Four Cafe has done here is to take pulled pork that has reportedly been through a whole grain mustard marinade, and create a sandwich consisting of red onions, gruyere, arugula, garlic aioli — and orange slices. The result, of course, is a nightmare on rye bread. To begin with, pulled pork should not be associated with any sort of cheese — that is strike one. The gruyere, as to be expected, was completely lost in the needlessly crowded (yet still startlingly slender) sandwich. Secondly, the pulled pork was layered so thin that there was nearly a 1:1 ratio of pork to oranges. The flavors of the sandwich (such as they were) were completely overwhelmed by entire orange slices (and if we are being honest, these were almost certainly sections of clementine, but I defer to the menu’s boast of oranges). Even if the pork were not completely overshadowed by the citrus (and I do not mean that as a compliment to the citrus), Four Cafe appears to be blissfully unaware that sections of orange (or whatever) are not what you would call “conducive” to inclusion in a sandwich. In fact, the rubbery, tough, and fibrous texture of the orange is at best an antithesis to the yielding nature of pulled pork. What you are left with is a sandwich that is difficult to eat, an insult to pulled pork, and really devoid of any distinguishable flavor or trait other than “oranges.”

You called it a “Slow Roasted Pork” sandwich, Four Cafe. Don’t hand me nothing but citrus and call it a day.

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