Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Dipco - Sandwiches Only

If there were a “Cheers” in Lancaster, where “everybody knows your name,” I imagine it would be The Lancaster Dispensing Company. The historic Victorian building has an old school feel that’s charming and well-used. Even if it’s your first time there, you walk in and almost feel like you know everyone like a long-lost pal. It’s auspiciously curious.

I like the “Dipco,” but I’ve decided that I will continue to explore parts of the menu with delight, while other parts will be written off entirely.

Their sandwiches are awesome. The Dagwood ($6.95), off their Overstuffed Sandwiches section, was crammed with ham, turkey, salami, swiss, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and mayo between three layers of rye bread. It’s a massively delicious sandwich, such that even if you’re full after eating the first half of the sandwich, it’s so good that you won’t want the experience to end.

Off that same section, the Tenderloin Tip Sandwich ($8.50) was ordered medium rare with the works (add sautéed mushrooms, onions, and green peppers for no additional charge – it’s worth it!). It was served over melted Provolone cheese on a nice crusty roll. Warning – this is a messy, messy sandwich. The culprit is a wonderful Bordelaise sauce that covered everything with its richness. Commence finger licking. Bordelaise is a classic French sauce that is rooted in the Bordeaux region. So it’s no surprise that its base is red wine, with the added flavor and richness that historically comes from beef marrow.

The thing I hate about a messy sandwich is that I impulsively eat it as quickly as possible to limit what must look like a horror show. But this sandwich deserves to be savored, so I allowed myself the enjoyment – who cares if I had sauce on my face from ear to ear?

Now, let’s talk salads. This is a section I don’t care to revisit. We ordered the Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese ($9). I liked that it unusually came on a bed of spinach and that the chicken wasn’t breaded or fried. But it was tossed in a bland buffalo sauce, which was barely spicy. More importantly, though, it came in a side salad portion. A horrible value. So while I’m sure there are good-tasting salads on that menu, my fiscal radar won’t allow me to go there again.

This value equation reared its ugly head with the Baked Crap Dip ($6.75) appetizer. The dish itself has great flavor, with fresh crabmeat mixed with cream cheese and white wine. But it comes in this tiny ramekin that a slightly larger-than-average man could eat in one bite if he wanted to.

Fortunately, not all appetizers have this issue. The chicken quesadillas ($7.75) we ordered with guacamole and jalapenos, at added cost, were a good portion. The flour tortillas were crisp and non-greasy, stuffed with peppers, tomatoes, onions and melted cheese. A good, solid appetizer that didn’t leave me feeling ripped off.

Interestingly, I haven’t tried anything off the dinner entrée section because both times I visited, the waitresses steered me away to the sandwiches. It’s clear that they’re the Dipco specialty – even the wait staff knows it. They’re stellar, and they’re a great value. Another great value? The beer. A pint of Sam Adam’s Summer Ale only cost $3.75.

So I’m sticking with anything that comes in between bread. That seems to be a safe bet because, while the food is mostly good at the Lancaster Dispensing Company, I’m just not sure what I won’t get if I order from anywhere else on the menu…

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