I have nothing but respect for the instinct that led to the above sandwich. I’ve eaten my fair share of questionable sandwiches, and each time I’ve spent time considering how things might be improved. More often than not, there’s a simple route. The McRib is a strong example here, where it’s only natural to look at that lackadaisical wonder of pork pricing and processing and think “Some quality ingredients, a little care, and this should be easy!” This is a very understandable impulse, and as it turns out, it is also very wrong.
The Oinkster put together a big hunk of pork ribs on a bigger bun, with pickles and onions at once more plentiful than the actual McRib but still not plentiful enough. The pork was dry and a bit tough, and there was quite a bit more bun than there needed to be. It would be easy to say that they simply tried and got it wrong, but I think the issue here really is the format. After all, what’s the ideal here? Tender, pull-apart pork, to the edges or even spilling out of a soft bun, with a present but second-fiddle textural and flavor counter. In other words, a good pulled pork sandwich. No, I think this is a case where the baby ought go soon after the bathwater. The McRib is the McRib for a reason, and there’s little reward in trying to gussy it up.
My initial experience with Eagle Rock standout The Oinkster was something of a disappointment, but also something of a fluke. My esteemed associate Bill has since returned more than once, highlighting some of the things on offer at what is, by nearly all accounts, an outstanding sandwich shop. I found myself there recently and was able to sample some of those things, and I came away as delighted as anyone. I’m not breaking any new ground in praising the Oinkster, but I do believe the sandwich shop is a special thing and it deserves to be recognized as such. I’ve discussed this before, how many places sell sandwiches but the Sandwich Shop is a different thing entirely, and a good one is to be treasured.
The above sandwich was their special of the moment, a pork patty grilled and put between bread with provolone, peppers and onions, and marinara. There’s not much to complain about there, the pork was moist and tasty, the flavor combination tried-and-true.
The Oinkster sells a burger called The Royale, and it’s piled high with chili, bacon and pastrami. So I’m not sure if I can call the above Oinkster Pastrami the intended ne plus ultra of the menu, it shares the shop’s name and is built to highlight the pastrami upon which they pride themselves, but it isn’t listed first on the menu and it doesn’t carry the same mien that featured sandwiches from other establishments do. None of that has any bearing on its quality, I suppose, and it’s quite good. It’s pastrami, cabbage, grilled onions and Gruyere cheese. That’s tasty, and it’s presented in reasonable proportion, but I think the cheese gets a bit lost. Regardless, it’s tasty as heck and a reasonable contender in a town where “best pastrami” is no small contest.