Curious Palate Makes a Chicken w/ Avocado Sandwich That I Actually Like!
I have a confession to make. When I first moved back to L.A. in February, my sandwich outlook was kind of grim. Sure, I was excited for Philippe’s, Langer’s, and Bay Cities is a good Westside option (provided you order online!) But mostly I was expecting one avocado topped grilled white meat chicken sandwich after another. And, granted, there have been plenty of those to be found at generic sit down business lunch spots around the city. But there are also some amazing sandwich specialists, and even though they are pushing the boundaries of what amount is acceptable to charge for a fast casual sandwich shop there is no denying that some of them put out some lunches that are worth the splurge.
The Los Angeles Magazine sandwiches guide from June has been a great help (hello chicken salad from Gram and Papa’s and capastrami from Capriotti’s!) but there’s also that pork banh mi from Mencodino Farms, the lambwich from Venice Beach Wines, and the great new sandwich menu at Wally’s Cheese Box (in Westwood). And now it’s time to add another to that list. Thanks to a recommendation from Lunch’er “Harriet” I hit up Curious Palate on the other day, on Venice in Mar Vista, and had a sandwich that could go toe to toe with any of the above.
Check it out after the jump…
Thai Chicken Satay Sandwich ($9.95). Thai marinated organic chicken thighs with house roasted peanut sauce, avocado, and Japanese pickles on 5 grain bread. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Zach… this is a chicken sandwich with avocado! And it’s 10 bucks!?! What’s wrong with you?” Here is my response to that. 1st. It’s chicken thighs, yo! Chicken thighs is a bold statement for an expensive sandwich shop in a chicken breast loving town like this. I respect the chicken thighs- which, btw people, are far more flavorful (and moist) than their white meat counterparts.
2nd. Avocado is good. I love avocado! But in this case I don’t see it as an ancillary cop-out, a way to to make a boring chicken sandwich interesting (which is what it’s used for at most sandwich spots.) Clearly this sandwich is not boring. House roasted peanut sauce? Japanese pickles? The avocado is there because the creaminess pairs perfectly with the rest of the ingredients in the sandwich. It’s not the star condiment… it’s part of a team that works together perfectly.
And 3rd, you have to give them points for giving you a pickle and quinoa on the side for your $10, but seeing as this is the very first time that quinoa has ever been shown on Midtown Lunch (and I will probably get a ton of shit for it from my old NYC readers) I admit it’s not much of a consolation. It tasted as good as quinoa can taste I suppose (yes, I did eat it) but I’d much prefer they give me a bag of those Zapp’s crunchy craw tators they have sitting up on the wall!
There are plenty of other interesting sandwiches to choose from, and there are always rotating specials based on the ingredient availability. Some are under $10, some are not. But they do have a pick two, soup/half sandwich/salad deal for $9 (although sadly your sandwich options are limited… for example, you couldn’t chose the sandwich above as part of that deal.) I tried their chicken salad on a croissant with the gazapacho. The chicken salad was good- but not as good as the chinese chicken salad sandwich at Earl’s Gourmet Grub up the street. The croissant was a good choice (when is it not?) and the gazpacho was slightly spicy, very refreshing and super interesting (I’m pretty sure they put some kind of fruit in it… maybe melon?) Also liked the hunk of bread they put in the middle.
Finally, you know I’m not willing to spend more than $10 on lunch (unless it’s an all you can eat buffet, of course!) but if I was willing to spend more than $10 (you know I’m not. But if I I was…) I would tell you to order their miso short ribs wrap on the specials menu. It’s $13.95, which is incredibly outrageous for any sandwich (even one with delicious short ribs) but if I was going to spend $14 (which I wouldn’t!) I would tell you this would be the sandwich to get. If I did spend the money, and try this sandwich (I didn’t! But if I did…) I would tell you that the short ribs are tender and delicious, but with enough give to keep the whole thing together. And they go perfectly with the shredded red cabbage slaw. So amazing… is what I”m guessing I would say if I was willing to spend $14 on a sandwich.
Anyway, thanks to Lunch’er “Harriet” for the recommendation. Who knew I could get so excited about a chicken sandwich with avocado?!
THE + (What somebody who likes this place will say)
- I don’t mind spending $10+ on a sandwich if it’s made with the best ingredients
- I like quinoa, and love that they give you some on the side with your sandwich
- It’s casual, and you order at a counter… but everything is made fresh to order like a restaurant
- They have Zapp’s potato chips! And cool artisinal sodas and other stuff
- I hate chicken breasts… but love chicken thighs
- They serve Intelligentsia Coffee!
- They have a great outdoor seating area
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- $10 for a sandwich? Once again… no. No way.
- They give you the most boring sounding sandwiches with the $9 1/2 sandwich/soup/salad deal
- Quinoa? What happened to you man…
- If they’re busy, the sandwiches can take a little while
- All the good sounding sandwiches are like $12-14
- Their breakfast menu looks great! They need to start serving that stuff during lunchtime!
Curious Palate, 12034 Venice Blvd, 310-437-0144