Don't look now, but is the French dip a hit again?
Is a French dip the next mac and cheese? The familiar “wet” roast beef sandwich is roaring back in vogue, showing up as a can’t-miss comfort option on some restaurant menus, and the starting point for an armchair culinary excursion on others (Chicago’s Cochon Volant features five versions daily, including one made with duck confit and cherries).
The range of places embracing the Los Angeles signature extends from chains like McAlister’s Deli, where a new menu showcases a conventional prep, to the hotly anticipated Maison Pickle in New York City, where the menu will be devoted to the item.
Here are some ways the old-timer is being recast as a new menu star.
Cochon Volant, Chicago
The brasserie offers a slight riff on a classic French dip for dinner, using provolone cheese and horseradish (for $21.95), but the real window for adventurists is lunch. Patrons can choose variations made with five meats: prime rib, rotisserie chicken, smoked pastrami, ham (with cheese) and duck cooked confit-style. All are served with hand-cut fries and aioli for $15.95.
Maison Pickle, New York City
The trend-conscious queue up on weekends for the biscuits, pickles and beers sold by Jacob’s Pickles, the brainchild of Jacob Hadjigeorgis, whose past ventures have included Boston’s Mmmac n’ Cheese. His new place will be Maison Pickle, where the focus will be on the French dip, with a selection of cocktails to complement the food menu. Particulars have yet to be revealed, but the New York Times has already anointed Maison Pickle as one of the newcomers to watch this fall.
Sit Low Pho; Santa Ana, Calif.
The 4th St. Market food hall station features a version that’s a cross between pho and a banh mi sandwich. Brisket is used in lieu of prime rib, and the garnishes are familiar to any pho fan. The dipping juice is a pho broth.
The Kroft; Anaheim, Calif.
Located in another food hall, the Anaheim Packing House, The Kroft features what the Los Angeles Times called “your classic French dip sandwich on flavor steroids.” The enhancers include horseradish mayo and caramelized onions.
McAlister’s Deli, multiple locations
The twist here is more meat, according to the fast-casual chain. The black Angus roast beef is topped with Swiss cheese and served atop a toasted baguette.
Steak ‘n Shake, multiple locations
One of the family chain’s short-term traffic draws this winter was a French dip burger—essentially a French dip served on what looked like a ciabatta-style bun. It was provided with a container of beef bouillon for dipping.