Fundamental L.A.’s Sandwiches Are Small But Delicious
This might come as a shock to some, but I don’t love sandwiches. Wait. Scratch that. Who doesn’t love sandwiches? I love sandwiches. Of course I love sandwiches. But I will admit to being slightly prejudiced against sandwiches. I hold my lunchtime sandwiches to a higher standard. In other words, I expect more from my sandwiches than I do from… say… shitty Chinese food. You either have to be the very best at what you do (i.e. the chicken parm from Bay Cities), or you’ve got to be doing something really unique (I’m looking at you Mendocino Farms). Something that makes me look at the menu and think… ok, this is going to be different and awesome.
Fundamental L.A., the new sandwich shop on Westwood Blvd that replaced Alcazar Express, did just that to me last Monday. I don’t know if it was their sous vide egg topped BLT, or their house made porchetta that did the trick, but either way I found myself there last Thursday eating my way through half their menu. And it was so good, I went back on Friday.
Gourmet sandwich shops are nothing new in Los Angeles. There will always be some new place trying to convince us that it’s worth paying close to $10 (and often more) for some stuff between two pieces of bread. Many of these places will tout farmer’s market ingredients, others try to align themselves with famous chefs, and some lure you in with the promise of pie. But taste and value are always going to be the deciding factors for me, something that Fundamental L.A. manages to hit despite serving some of the smallest sandwiches I have ever paid $9 for.
The porchetta, which will likely be their signature sandwich, is everything that was promised by Tasting Table and more. The sandwich features a huge single hunk of tasty, porky, house made porchetta, surrounded by a layer of crispy skin and topped with sauerkraut and a whole grain mustard that all fight for top billing. The brioche that it’s served on soaks up the fatty juices in a way that makes you almost happy that it’s as small as it is. And it is small.
Tiny even. The fact that I didn’t mind the size is a testament to how unbelievably delicious (and rich) this sandwich is. Once you toss in the free pickles, and a $2 order of potato chips you should be able to convince yourself that it filled you up enough to make it worth the $11.
But Fundamental L.A. is not a one hit wonder. Their short rib sandwich, which is served on sliced sourdough and topped with a curried eggplant mixture, is also a fantastic specimen. Not as rich as the porchetta, it still is plenty fatty (they also do a good job of greasing up the bread before putting it on the flattop) and a must try for anybody who is looking for a little Indian flavor in their sandwich.
The chicken torta was also delicious, but we couldn’t help but feel we had only gotten half the sandwich- and with good reason. It is only half a sandwich. It couldn’t overcome the “I can get a larger torta for half the price at a million other places in L.A.” (something you’d never say about the porchetta sandwich) but it was admittedly very tasty.
Sadly they had run out of their bacon for their egg topped BLT and probably won’t have it back for another week (the perils of curing your own bacon I guess!?) so we tried the pork cheek po’boy instead- despite the $11 price tag. Part of me hoped that “po’boy” meant large, but it ended up being the same size sandwich as the porchetta, and nothing about it really screams po’boy. That being said, semantics and expectations aside it’s still a pretty tasty sandwich. (You might say the secret ingredient is deep fried pork cheeks.)
If quantity is your mantra, the best thing to order by far is the grilled cheese and soup. For $9 I completed expected it to be a half sandwich, and was pretty excited to discover you get a full. Once again… it’s all about expectations. Not sure about the sandwich, but it appears as if the soup will change every week. Last week it was a bright, sweet and creamy corn soup; this week it’s a tomato soup with balsamic onions. One thing is for sure, based on the rest of the food I don’t think it’s likely this place is going to put out a bad soup anytime soon.
If size is the worst part of Fundamental L.A., the best part is the variety. The menu is small but they plan on mixing things up every week (this week’s menu features a brand new biscuit, sausage and fried egg breakfast sando for $8) which is all fine and great… provided they don’t touch my porchetta.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love fancy and interesting sandwiches made with fatty meats, and don’t mind paying an extra couple of bucks for them
- Their house made porchetta is pretty spectacular
- They love eggs… I love eggs!
- They do a good job of lubing up the bread before putting it on the flatop
- If this was a fancy restaurant, nobody would complain about the prices or the size
- The grilled cheese and soup for $9 is a pretty great deal considering the quality
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Sorry, but there is no way I’m going to be full after eating one of those $9 sandwiches
- For lunch I prefer cold (aka lighter) sandwiches
- Too greasy!
- Can’t I just get a regular turkey sandwich with avocado on it?
- Using the word Po’Boy to describe that pork cheek sandwich is blasphemy
- Did I mention the sandwiches are tiny?
Fundamental L.A., 1303 Westwood Blvd, 310-444-7581