Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ink Sack @ 8360 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles

So, ever since that first season of 'Top Chef', there's been just an overflow of the 'larger than life', 'Chef as Rock Star/Foodie as Groupie' mentality which, as a willing participant, has the ability to transform even the most passionate gastronome into a jaded and effected Valley tween (btw...if we're so technologically advanced, why can't we TASTE what's on the TV...huh?) Apple, I presume you're on top of this....and please, spare me the entire olfactory spectrum, I do not need to know how fecund the garbage smells...just the yummies...

I digress...back to this post.  Michael Voltaggio is the winner of Top Chef Las Vegas (Yay!!!) which was by far one the most interesting, contestant driven season that the show has produced; the brotherly competition, the quality of dishes shown, I was mesmerized, especially what came from M. Voltaggio.
With all the physical appearance of a rogue skateboarder showered in tattoos and bravado, his creations were the diametric opposite; delicate, fragile and refined....there was a level of respect that resonated through the screen, all the international influences were done right and that is hard to convey to an audience without 'Smell-o-Vision'.  And he made for good TV, a personality that immediately evoked a strong affinity/distaste for, especially his confidence exuding his high skill levels and arrogance.  Good entertainment for sure.

So unlike other openings, when he opened his restaurant Ink, it was an immediate blip on my radar.  I enjoyed reading the reviews and guest experience, but ultimately, I'm not the guy who's terribly fond of sitting around for hours with high expectations of culinary entertainment and imagination gone amok in the kitchen, (although that's not what I think of him),  I'm finding myself more and more leaning towards F&B of the casual variety, still intelligent, but less ego.

Cue in Ink Sack, Voltaggio's version of a sandwich shop, reminiscent of a beach city shack with vague overtones of 'X Games' design references, it has a unique menu that stands out with a rebel yell in a location that normally offers bloviated pomp with their persian lime infused tap and $17 hummus...

Who the f*%k is Allen and why is he always taking my food?
Changing my name to Alyn so more people can screw it up......

The service is fast casual, with a cute delivery schtick; everything is handed to you in a black paper bag with your name on it. And it's worth taking a good look at their menu, Ink Sack offers all the savory sandwiches du jour with twists and turns that make you wanna try every one (and you actually could at $4~$7 a pop) and their tempting House Made Snacks (Maryland Crab Chips, Pork Rinds) shows me that we have evolved our 'Subway' convenience culture into the New Millennium.

I ordered two sandwiches, the first being the 'Jose Andres':  Serrano Ham + Chorizo + Lomo Sausage + Manchego Cheese.  I think the Bread was supreme, great texture, crunch and all around a carb lover's dream.  The sandwich itself was compact, but it had tons of flavor; the meats had enough of the oily goodness permeating every crevice and the abundance of lettuce condiments gave the illusion of healthy living... Overall, a decent sandwich, nothing extremely outstanding but satisfying and good for the price.

The second sandwich is the Cold Fried Chicken: Fried Chicken Breast  that's sliced + Cucumbers + House Made Ranch Cheese + 'Gindo's Spice of Life' Pepper Sauce.  And it's not what you think it would taste like,  first of all, the sandwich is cold-like having fried chicken the next day our of the fridge.  So the breading is not that crisp, just out of the fryer consistency, but not that cold, oily grease layer either. It had the right balance of Chicken Breast with outer Fried Layer that proved to be a good foundation; the Cucumbers were a nice touch and the ranch subtle enough to give that creamy consistency without weighing you down.  That Pepper Sauce is one hot the end I was happily blistering and felt that warm pervading through my body. It's a sandwich I'd get again.

For the location, convenience, price and quality, I will definitely be marking this a 'go to' venue for something casual and light, when I don't feel like 'fussy', but still want 'special'.

ink.sack on UrbanspoonRatings (Out of Five Stars)
Food:            3.5
Ambience:    2.5
Service:         2.5