Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Jalopy

The Jalopy
15th and San Antonio
(512) 817 – 8554

I recently had dinner at the Jalopy food "trailer" in downtown Austin. I say "trailer" in parenthesis, because it's not the typical airstream or food cart we Austin-ites have come to associate with trailer eating. It's an honest to God semi. Smoke stack and everything. Really.

I was invited to dine there by owner/head chef Nick Patrizi when Jalopy had just opened a few months ago (sorry Nick for taking so long to get to this). If you haven't dined at Jalopy, you should, just to meet Mr. Patrizi. He's a really larger than life personality. If I could just bottle his energy and sell it to all the groggy middle-aged office workers of the world, I'd make a mint!

The Jalopy is primarily a sandwich shop specializing in rotisserie chicken and pressed panini sandwiches.

All the sandwich fillings are made from scratch, including these delectable mushrooms. That's Nick, btw.

What makes the Jalopy special, aside from the fact that it's a giant semi, are the attention to artistic detail. The trailer is covered in incredible art hand painted by local artists.

Unfortunately, at the time we visited the Jalopy (and granted, this was several months ago, and when it first opened), the only way to order sandwiches was to climb a rickety looking staircase made of shipping palates. Not knowing to expect this, I wore some killer platform high heels (black with a sexy ankle strap, thank you). And I had to remove my heels before I could attempt to climb the stair to order a sandwich. I'm hoping that in the few months since I visited, the stair problem has been solved with a little sturdier solution.

To balance out the rickety staircase, however, was this awesome sammich shoot. When your sammiches are done, they send them down this crazy shoot.

But you're saavy restaurant patrons. You can't be swayed by a nifty sammich shoot and cool art. You want to know about the food. I'm a little sad to say, the food falls a little short of the awesome trailer.

Most of the sandwiches are made with chicken meat from rotisserie chickens. They are hand roasted in the trailer and are delicious and flavorful. Nick could make a nice business selling his tasty chickens on the side. Who doesn't love a rotisserie chicken on a lazy weeknight. I know I do.

To whet your appetite, Nick serves some delicious veggie chips. They can be dusted with bbq, salt and vinegar, chili lime, parmesan garlic, sea salt, creamy dill, or margherita pizza flavoring. We opted for parmesan garlic and happily munched away while he prepared our sandwiches.

I went to Jalopy with my friend Connie, who is on a perpetual healthy eating kick. This time she was trying to eat low carb. And even though Jalopy is a sandwich place, Nick, graciously, made her a low carb version of his Son Hong sandwich. Rotisserie chicken in a spicy chili sauce with pickled onions, cucumbers, and a cilantro salad. I took a bite and it was every bit as hot as it looked. Connie loved it, and gobbled it down. Just looking at it made my heart burn though, so I stuck with a more traditional sandwich.

I had a Jalopy Original - rotisserie chicken in a demi-glace with a red onion marmalade. The red onions are cooked down with a balsamic reduction, sugar, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. And the demi-glace is made with the chicken bones from the rotisserie chicken served on most of the sandwiches. The sandwich had a nice subtle flavor, but was hoping for an explosion of awesome in my mouth and what I got instead of was a pop. The texture of the sandwich left a little to be desired too. The demi glace sauce soaked through the break creating a sloppy mess before I was even half way though.

Now, while we were eating, Nick talked to us about some sandwich experiments he was running and mentioned he was trying sandwiches with a juice soaked inner piece of bread so the juices wouldn't drip to the outter pieces. Here's hoping he's perfected that technique.

Connie and I also went with Teddy of Fun with your Food, a 90% vegetarian. At the time we went, all the Jalopy sandwiches had chicken, so Nick made her a special off-menu veggie sandwich. She really liked it. Since then, I see, he's added 3 veggie sandwiches that all sound amazing.

And while it wasn't available at the time I went, I see there is a Chicken and Waffle sandwich now which totally intrigues me and I definitely will be going back to try.

~Mariah: 7