Eight months ago I blogged about celebrity chef José Andrés’s plans to join the Street Food revolution by adding his truck to the vibrant Washington DC food scene. Today, I am happy to report I finally experienced his new offering.
After lining up for 15 minutes and slowly savoring my coveted Pepito de Ternera sandwich, I can finally announce that Street Food has graduated out of its nascent first years where young entrepreneurs were trying to make their mark and benefit from the revived craze about local and hip places to eat. Street Food has officially entered a more mature stage where the “big guys” are starting to realize the attractiveness of that business model.
José Andrés’s food truck is a great idea indeed. Through its mobility, office workers across different neighborhoods of the Greater DC area can experience high-quality and signature dishes in-between conference calls or spreadsheet-crunching marathons. The prices are a bit high for a typical workday lunch ($8 for a gazpacho soup and $14 for the beef tenderloin sandwich), but they are more than worth it for a quick touch of Spanish flavor and food goodness to spice up the mundane Monday at work.
The menu contains a pretty eclectic mix of Mediterranean-inspired dishes. There is a gazpacho soup, a burger, a grilled cheese sandwich, a beef delicacy… even a chicken sandwich dedicated to FC Barcelona!
One thing I would have preferred differently is to have a Spanish brand for chips rather than the rather pedestrian Route 11. Or he could offer a whole other way to complement the main meal — leveraging a Spanish appetizer or something similar.
The other thing that I missed on the menu is the ubiquitous Spanish jamón ibérico sandwich. But I guess José Andrés does not really want to fall into the typical stereotypes, so he is trying to keep the bar a bit higher than the tourist fare on the streets of Madrid.
The sandwich comes in a typical European deli style white wrapping paper, and even sports a flashy silver Pepe label to prove its authenticity and make it stand out from the rest of the food truck crowd. The “icing on the cake” is the fact that the sandwich is personally inspected and wrapped by Executive Chef Sean Wheaton from José Andrés’s Think Food Group (TFG).
I could not wait to go back to the office and indulge in this little culinary gem. I was not disappointed when I unwrapped the sandwich and took the first bite. It felt as if I had miraculously escaped from the office and was sitting at one of José Andrés’s fancy restaurants in downtown DC or — even better — at his new and very hyped The Bazaar venue at the SLS hotel in Miami’s South Beach.
What are your thoughts on celebrity chefs’ foray into the truck food scene? Is that the right direction for the whole street food movement? Would you pay $10+ for a sandwich made on a truck, even if it comes with the brand and “blessings” of a successful restauranteur and celebrity chef? Let me know in the Comments section.