Dreaming of Brian Luscher's Italian Beef

Categories: Food News

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Win, indeed

Last week while I was watching Antoine Cantarel and Clint Cooper blister flatbreads in the parking lot outside Village Baking Co., Brian Luscher pulled into the lot and jumped out of his car. He was there for the same reason I was, to see if these two characters could conjure something delicious from the dark cavern of a wood burning oven, but Luscher had an extra agenda item. The owner of The Grape recently announced his yet-to-open restaurant on Gaston Avenue. Now he was inquiring about some rolls. I was eavesdropping.

"How about a demi-baguette?" offered Julie Brown. She works for Village Baking Co., too. Luscher said it wasn't right. He said he needed something with a bit more structure and chew. "He needs something that can stand up to being dipped in a giant vat of gravy," I interrupted. I'd heard enough. I knew what he was up to.

Luscher has already turned the pedestrian hot dog on its head. Composed almost entirely of hand-made ingredients (he sources the bun), his take on the Chicago classic stays true to tradition while achieving new heights of hot dog ambrosia. What he serves up at the White Rock Local Farmers Market most weekends looks like a Chicago-style hot dog, but you walk away feeling like you've had a significant culinary experience.

Luscher owed it to Dallas to do the same for Italian beef, and I told him as much. He got this quirky little grin on his face, but wouldn't confirm that he was planning to take on the sandwich. Instead he winked at me. Twice. He even said "wink, wink," while he did it. My heart raced a little.

I thought about freshly made, crunchy giardiniera with a lot of heat. I thought about beef, slowly roasted over a steaming pool of stock and sliced into thin, velvety folds. I thought about the resulting gravy, light but full of beefy flavor, running in rivulets down my arms to my elbows as a single tear cascaded down my cheek.

I thought about asking for a perfect gyro too, but I didn't want to be greedy. One thing at a time, I guess.



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15 comments
foodprick
foodprick

Dear God, Reitz, you continue to mesmerize me with your skill to bring us what's most important - news we can use!!!  Very, very excited about getting a beef down here in Dallas - luckily I'm in Chicago every other month on business and that's when I get my Al's fix.  (Sorry to disagree with you, but Mr. Beef is NOT better).  Only one request for the new Dallas sandwich:  make your own Giardiniera:  that crap out of the bottle at Jimmy's just doesn't cut it.  CAN'T WAIT.

J_A_
J_A_

Omg yum. Please let this be good, please.

grebliv
grebliv

I got all excited when I saw the photo of Big E's but the article didn't reference it. It was slated to be replaced by a chicken fast food type place, but I think those signs have been removed since they were adhered after the convenience store closed.

juanmayeaux
juanmayeaux

I live in Louisiana and have eaten some of the best Roast Beef PoBoys in our area. Italian Beef Sandwiches that are done well, are an excellent example of a great PoBoy that has a regional spin.

Willie
Willie

Yep, the bread is the key.  The Italian beef sandwiches at Jimmy's suffer from soft bread, so the whole thing falls apart.  I buy beef, gravy, and giardineria from Jimmy's and bread from Empire Baking, then make them at home.  Growing up in Chicago, I never had much money, so I'd get a dip, fries, and Coke for about a half a buck.  Nowadays when I'm in Chicago, I go with the sausage and beef combo.

@Kergo, I'm a purist, but I gotta say the eggplant parm twist sounds great!

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

Italian Beef is the Yank equivalent of brisket down here-divine!  Don't forget to slice it thin, and throw it on a hoagie, with eggplant parm (also thin and pan fried) and a salad.............heaven. 

Willie
Willie

@foodprick Jimmy's brings in the giardiniera from Vienna in Chicago.  What do you put in yours?

McKeeverDesign
McKeeverDesign

@grebliv it does vaguely refer to Big E's, it just assumes you know it's off Gaston..

"The owner of The Grape recently announced his yet-to-open restaurant on Gaston Avenue. (Big E's)"

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@grebliv The actual storefront itself is quite interesting and very "classic" looking. I like it!

Mervis
Mervis

Jimmy's gets their stuff from Vienna out of Chicago. You may as well buy it yourself off the web.

The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley
The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley

@Twinwillow I was in Chicago over the weekend and probably ate an extra waist size of Italian Beef.  Was disappointed with Al's.  Not as good as usual.  Something was off, but I really don't know what.  I did try a place near O'hare called Frankie's or Frannie's and it was very good.  

foodprick
foodprick

@willie the restaurants like Al's and Mr. Beef in Chicago make their own blend that is a lot less chunky than the canned giardiniera out of the bottle at Jimmy's.  The peppers, celery, cauliflower are all sliced much thinner and use a great blend of spices in their sauce.

Willie
Willie

@Mervis Correctomundo, great swami.  I don't have room in my freezer for the minimum you gotta buy from Vienna, nor do I want that much in my freezer.  Plus, if you want the beef, you gotta order the French rolls, which are, like I said, too soft.  Anyway, it's more fun to shop around real people.  

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