Our good friend Paul Burch, the masterful craftsman of American music, turned us on to Philippe’s, Home of the Original French Dip Sandwich. Bereft of appropriate thankful words to express our gratitude for introducing such brilliance to our palate, Paul- your next roast beef and Swiss on rye is on us.
Note that we ceased to hug the previous declaration with quotation marks. No need to inform the editor of a grammatical error, we just believe such punctuations imply non-scientific marketing ploys. Philippe the Original, they truly are the innovators of the sandwich dipping phenomenon. It may have been discovered by accident, but so were potato chips, penicillin and blue jeans. Who could complain?
Opened in 1908 by one Philippe Mathieu, the "French Dipped Sandwich" stumbled into history one day in 1918. While making one of his signature hearty sandwiches, Mathieu clumsily dropped a sliced French roll into a still-hot pan, soaking in its natural roast juices. The customer offered to eat the food anyway, loved it, and returned the following day, this time with friends, requesting more dipped sandwiches. Whether it was Mathieu's French heritage, the French roll itself, or the fact that the customer’s name was Officer French, the exact details matter little. On this day, the “French Dipped Sandwich” became official.
Still a landmark in the flavor-of-the-month setting of Southern California, Philippe the Original has thankfully altered very little about their operation. The manner the service operates is unique. A lengthy display counter is manned by ten “Carvers”, a multitalented server that guides the gourmand through the process. The Carver will make the sandwich, salad or soup. The beverage will be poured, be it lemonade, a 9¢ cup of coffee or a glass of vino. She will take your payment, and wish you a nice dinner, all of this with a friendly and quick step. Seating is family style, the décor is vintage, the plates are paper, and the food is simply fantastic. There is even the cool option to weigh oneself on the same scale that was used by Norman Rockwell for the Saturday Evening Post. Just do so before taking the first bite.
Another accidental discovery? The pacemaker. But in Southern California, no artificial heart is needed. The real heart of Los Angeles? Walk about a block from the Hollywood 101 Freeway and immerse yourself in the legend that is Philippe the Original.