For those of us itching for Michael Voltaggio's new Los Angeles restaurant to open, there are not one but two glimmers of hope. The first being that according to rumor Ink will finally open some time in September. Hooray! The second is that to tide you over, you can check out Voltaggio's newly opened sandwich joint, ink.sack.
With great anticipation we went there on Wednesday around half past twelve and there was definitely a little swarm gathered in front of the smallish storefront. Most waiting to order or to pickup. There really isn't much room to eat there, just a bit of counter space, so it's mainly in and out.
I have to say that the menu board certainly adds to the excitement. Which one/s (limit four per person) will I choose? There's something for everyone. Unless you're a vegetarian. Which thankfully I am not. These diminutive sandwiches are meat-centric all the way.
I opted for the banh-mi and the cold fried chicken, and while rather small the fillings are rich and delectable and I could only polish off one and a half sandwiches. I did steal tastes of the luscious CLT, which features one of my all-time favorite things, chicken-liver mousse. The creamy mousse along with the curried chicken skin and perfect slices of juicy summer tomatoes must make this one of the best choices on the menu. I plan to return straightaway to sample everything else on the menu, so I can confirm this for you -- who am I kidding? -- for myself.
The banh-mi was outstanding, showcasing tender pork cheek and pickled vegetables. But the knock-out on this sandwich was the inclusion of the crispy chicharones. Very clever idea, indeed. Even with the greasy chicharones, this sandwich still feels fresh thanks to the vinegary pickled vegetables and fresh cilantro.
The cold fried chicken sandwich was quite tasty, although not as revelatory as the other two. The chicken itself is moist, with a beautiful golden crust. The house made ranch cheese didn't make a strong impression on me, and the lasting feeling was that this sandwich was a tiny bit dry.
And that brings me to the bread. I'm pretty sure that the bread was responsible for any dryness. The bread they are using is completely unspectacular and really just a package for delivering Voltaggio's scrumptious fillings to your mouth. Rita mentioned Subway. Mo. felt the bread didn't detract from the experience, but certainly didn't add to it. I believe that almost any other bread -- be it baguette or squishy store-bought french rolls -- would be an improvement. I can't believe they are baking it themselves, so they ought to simply change purveyors.
You'll also find a tempting selection of house-made snacks, including paper-thin house-made potato chips that crack in your mouth gloriously. Salty and intensely vinegary, these potato chips won me over at the first bite and between you and me, I generally have zero interest in potato chips. There's also bbq pork rinds, watermelon with sriracha and lime (why didn't I pick up some of this), and cookies!
Is it too much to go back across town two days later? Will Fe. want this for lunch today? I've got a mean hankering for the spicy tuna with sriracha mayo and I'm dying to try the José Andres, filled with lots of meats -- serrano ham, chorizo, lomo -- and cheese.
Ink.sack is a smart idea for a little storefront restaurant. Though the place was crowded, the folks running the joint -- Voltaggio included -- are impressively efficient. We didn't wait long to order or to receive are little black sack lunches. The prices are very fair. Some complain the sandwiches are too small, but at four to six bucks a pop, I believe you're getting a great deal.
Plus, it's fun to see Michael Voltaggio hard at work, tattoos very much on display. I've been impatiently awaiting his next big thing ever since A. and I had an exceptional dinner at The Dining Room at the Langham back when Voltaggio was at the helm. Ink.sack is lots of fun and plenty delicious, but sign me up for Ink. Please.
8630 Melrose Avenue #107
Los Angeles, CA