The Oinkster: where all the hipsters in Eagle Rock congregate. This was proven true during my visit with Greg a few weeks ago. We came around 6pm on a Friday, and it was surprisingly not too busy. However, after we ordered and sat, the line was out and around the restaurant. Guess hipsters come out to play around 6:30 – noted. Anyways, The Oinkster is a well-received restaurant that specializes in burgers and sandwiches (featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, as well as in more blogs than you can count, and most importantly to Angelenos – J. Gold’s 99 Essential Restaurants). They also offer a variety of beers, both on draft and in bottle, as well as artisan soda and coffee, and my favorite: shakes!
I ordered the famous house cured pastrami, as is, since I wanted to taste the pastrami meat in detail. Greg ordered the Royale, which is essentially a pastrami burger. According to their website, the pastrami is “cured for two weeks, rubbed with special Oinkster secret spices and smoked with applewood.” Sounds amazing, no? Expecting Langer’s-esque quality, I was not. But one cannot help but have high expectations, especially from reading that Chef Guerrero improved the pastrami after studying briefly with the Langers. What I ended up with, however, were thin slices served on a French roll. This is very similar to the pastrami you’d find at The Hat and Johnnie’s, not exactly what I was desiring and expecting.
The pastrami itself was full of flavor. Maybe a little too well-seasoned though. Yes it’s cured and I can certainly appreciate and handle well-seasoned food, but I felt that the pastrami here was a bit too salty, at least salty enough to overshadow the peppery and smokey flavors that were promised. The thin slices were a bit difficult to appreciate from the texture perspective, as well. And adding to the disappointment, the roll was unspectacular. Maybe I’m too much of a pastrami sandwich traditionalist, but I haven’t exactly been pleased with these types of sandwiches mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The fries, done Belgian-style, were also a bit of a disappointment. I felt that, while they tasted pretty good, the fries were too soft and limp. But they did go well with that garlic aioli, which certainly lived up to its name (very garlicky). All the disappointment over this meal, however, briefly went away once I received my ube shake. Made with Fosselman’s ice cream, the ube (purple yam) shake was delicious! If I had to describe it, it was like a marriage between coconut and taro flavors. Truly the highlight of the dinner. Despite my disappointment, I can see why The Oinkster is so popular: decent quality and prices in a fun and casual atmosphere. Definitely a place I would’ve loved had it been in Westwood during my college years.
Chris Hei grade: B-
2005 Colorado Blvd
Eagle Rock, CA 90041