Having heard off and on about Johnnie's Pastrami for awhile now, I decided to check it out for lunch since I just happened to be in the neighborhood. I've definitely heard mixed reviews about Johnnie's pastrami sandwich, everything from "tasteless", "gristly", "cold" to "lean", "juicy" and "tasty." There didn't seem to be a middle ground, but than that can be said about how we all tend to view food in general. We either like something or we don't.
Even before looking at the menu, I liked the feeling of Johnnie's as I walked inside. It was a classic diner to the max. There were brown vinyl booths, green vinyl counter seats, a jukebox you could feed quarters to and I even liked how the pies were stacked in this cylindrical glass container. A pie for every taste, whether it be Mom's apple pie, blueberry pie, cherry pie or peach pie!
Once I ordered at the counter, I opted to sit at one of their outside patios, specifically where the fire pit was blazing away. Upon sitting down, I was served with a silver bowl of chunky pickle slices. Generally, I like pickles, but I didn't care for these too much. They weren't very crunchy and tasted bland.
Soon, the Johnnie's Deluxe Pastrami Plate I ordered was placed in front of me. For a minute, I stared. Don't get me wrong. I was hungry, but there's no way I would have been able to finish everything on that plate. I didn't even try. Half of the sandwich ended up going home, but the other half I enjoyed there.
When I took my first bite, I honestly felt like I was eating air. Sounds funny, huh? In comparison to the pastrami I've had in the past at Langer's, The Hat's and other noted pastrami restaurants, which tend to be meatier, denser, more chewy, more peppery, Johnnie's pastrami was definitely lighter and leaner than I'm used to. Johnnie's pastrami was also more moist as opposed to how oily pastrami meat can get sometimes. The moistness is probably due to the fact that Johnnie's pastrami is steamed. It took a couple more bites before I realized that I was actually enjoying the sandwich.
What I noticed about Johnnie's pastrami is that it's just a different eating experience from a Langer's or The Hat's pastrami sandwich. While I think Johnnie's pastrami lacked a much needed peppery/zingy flavor, I was quite taken with the lean, tender and moist quality of the meat and I liked how the half sandwich I ate didn't leave me with a heavy feeling, that sometimes happens when you eat a sandwich with greasier meat.
Now would I choose a Johnnie's pastrami over a Langer's or The Hat's pastrami? Not necessarily. It just depends on what my tastebuds are craving and when they're craving flavor, sometimes only Langer's or The Hat will do, but if I want something lighter and leaner and am willing to make the trek Westside, than Johnnie's may just have to come on top.
To see pics, go to:
4017 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230