We spent Memorial Day weekend with Rob's family in L.A., and on our last day there, did something we've been talking about for years: We finally ate lunch at Philippe The Original, the supposed inventor of the French Dip sandwich.
The sandwich was pretty darn good, and I loved the sawdust-on-the-floor, community seating atmosphere. But unlike most French Dips, they don't give you a bowl of au jus to dip your own. They dip it for you, but unless you specify "double dipped," which we didn't know, they only dip it once, and it's not as juicy as the best French Dips are. Rob was convinced his lamb French Dip didn't get dipped at all, but my beef sandwich was dipped only once, I think.
Still, a yummy treat, and the French rolls were to die for. The pamphlet they give out about the history of the place claims that a sandwich was once accidentally dropped in the pan juices. The customer, a policeman, took it anyway, and came back with friends wanting more dipped sandwiches.
Says the restaurant's Web site: "And so was born the "French Dipped Sandwich," so called either because of [owner Philippe] Mathieu's French heritage, the French roll the sandwich is made on, or because the officer's name was French. The answer is lost to history." Thankfully, the recipe is not.