Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Impression: ink.sack

Cole Dickinson
The biggest opening of the year is a sandwich shop? That is what it has felt like for the past two weeks since Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio opened his sandwich shop ink.sack. The shop, open Wednesday through Sunday, has been slammed with lines out the door beginning at the 11 am opening time. Needless to say the inventory of sandwiches has not lasted until the 4 pm closing time. The sandwich shop was announced to the press and the public only the day before opening. How did Voltaggio keep it under the radar? He told me that the whole concept including the space came together in just 15 days, which has to be a land-speed record for a restaurant opening in Los Angeles.

Cold Chicken Sandwich
The menu is short, with seven sandwiches, four snack sides and two cookie options.  No sandwich costs more than $6, which is amazing for food from a celebrity chef.  The sandwiches are not huge, though Voltaggio enlarged them after feedback from Zach Brooks of MidtownLunch.  All the meats for the sandwiches are made by Voltaggio's team, led by Cole Dickinson, with the exception of the imported Spanish meats in the Jose Andres aka "The Spanish Godfather", a sandwich named for Voltaggio's mentor, whom he worked for at the Bazaar at the SLS.

The Cold Fried Chicken sandwich made with fried chicken, lettuce, pickles, house-made ranch dressing and Gindo's Spice of Life pepper sauce.  The sandwich is served cold, as the name implies, and the chicken had a nice crunch to it.  The Gindo's provides a nice little kick and overall this is a tasty sandwich.  At $4 it is the least expensive sandwich on the menu and a very good value.  Not quite at Bakesale Betty territory but very satisfying.

The C.L.T. (above) is made with chicken liver mousse, curried chicken skin, lettuce and tomato.  The chicken liver mousse is creamy and unctuous.  I wish the chicken skin had contributed more texture.  This is a rich sandwich and felt luxurious for a sandwich shop.  ($5)

Fruit with Bags
The Water Melon (top right) is fresh watermelon which has been marinated in sriracha sauce and lime juice and sealed in a sous vide bag.  This was one of my favorite items on the menu as it has real spice; each bite is refreshing and packs a wallop at the same time.  Jazz should add these to the Jitlada menu.  ($3)

Street Fruit ($3) is cut up pineapple, jicama, mango, melon, chile and lime juice, again sealed in a sous vide bag.  The street fruit is also a pleasing complement to the sandwiches, but packs a lighter punch than the Water Melon in terms of spiciness.

The sandwiches and sides are served in black bags with the customers names written on them, a fun and casual touch.  Below is the full menu, which is written on school notebook paper style lined sheets.


Voltaggio told me he eats several of the sandwiches daily and his current favorite is the Maple-Pepper Turkey Melt, which I hope to try on a future visit.

Good food at a reasonable price in a neighborhood without many good value lunch options equals a winner.  Is this fine dining?  No.  It is not supposed to be.  It is a sandwich shop opened in only two weeks.  If you are looking for Voltaggio's sit-down restaurant experience, ink , located down the block from ink.sack, opens in one month, so stay tuned.


ink.sack: 8630 Melrose Avenue, E. of La Cienega. Open Wednesday - Sunday, 11 am - 4 pm or until they sell out.

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