Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sensational Sandwiches at Sessions

Sessions Sandwiches
2823 Newport Blvd. 
Newport Beach, CA 92663

I hate when people say that there are no good sandwich spots in Southern California. Sure we are not as well known for our sandwiches as other parts of the country, but we do have some great sandwich spots. You just have to look a little harder to find them. Unlike New York City, where there's a great deli on almost every corner, our good ones are a little more spread out, but they are becoming more numerous. I'm going to go out on a limb, and say that Sessions will become a favorite new sandwich destination for a lot of you.

We were recently invited to try out Sessions Sandwiches, and after looking at their menu, I was very excited to come here. I have a real love affair with sandwiches. I love them all. I love paninis, subs, hoagies, grinders, cheesesteaks, and just about anything that is put between two slices of bread. I guess even burgers can be described as sandwiches, but that's a whole different matter.

Sessions is located on the peninsula in Newport, right next to Laventina's Pizza, in between 28th and 29th street on the northbound side of Newport Boulevard. If memory serves me correctly, this used to be a bike shop awhile back. I spent quite a few crazy nights down in this area for about a decade, but those stories need to stay in the vault.

Back to present day though. Sessions comes to us from the mind of Matt Meddock, who along with his friends, Max Schlutz and Beckham Thomas, have come up with this west coast deli concept for Sessions. Their goal is to bring the typical sandwich up several notches, using freshly baked bread, locally grown produce, and top notch meats, while incorporating skate and surf culture.

Sessions has been open for just about a month now. There initial menu offers eight sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, and some side items. There are limited tables here, but there's a long bar, which encourages people to eat, then get out there and enjoy the surf and sun. Adding to the surf vibe, the large projection screen in the middle of the space was showing surf highlights. The restaurant is dominated by wood, with one wall covered in fake shrubbery, which brought to mind the wall behind the hostess stand at True Food Kitchen. Ordering is done at the counter, and then the food is brought out to you. Let's see if all of my excitement for these sandwiches is warranted.

Before we get to the sandwiches here, Matt brought us out this German Potato Salad ($2.50). I love potato salad, and this was a very good one. Matt informed us that he's not a big mayonnaise guy, so this potato salad uses mustard as a base. When I heard this I thought the mustard would be too overpowering, but it was more subtle than I would have thought. Really good flavor, the potatoes had a good texture to them, and I liked the inclusion of the red onion. Not a heavy potato salad, but still full of flavor. Trying this really got me amped up for the sandwiches.

The first sandwich we tried on this afternoon was the Sloppy Barney ($9). This can best be described as a sloppy joe crossbred with a pulled pork sandwich. It starts with a very well made ciabatta roll, (from Dean Kim's, OC Baking Company nonetheless), and is made up of pulled pork, sweet and sour barbecue sauce, pickle, red onion, jalapeno jack cheese, and so cal slaw. This sandwich was pretty darn good. It starts with a moist pork, the pickles do not overpower, and the veggies add a nice crunch here. The cheese was melted nicely, but this could have used a touch more barbecue sauce. A pretty balanced sandwich, and one I would have a hard time staying away from on future visits to Sessions.

Normally when I see sprouts and squaw bread, I head for the hills thinking they are trying to push a healthy sandwich my way. That was my initial thought when I saw this Meddock Melee ($9). Matt's namesake sandwich starts with roasted turkey, jalapeno jack cheese, guacamole, razor onion, tomato, cherry pepper, sprouts, and a very well made adobo-buttermilk dressing, all on squaw.  Big time flavor with this one. The turkey was pretty solid, the produce was of course fresh, and the guacamole kind of brought everything together here. I'm still not in love with sprouts, but even with them, this sandwich is a winner.

Matt was pretty adamant that we try the sandwich named after his wife Summer, and who were we to argue? Again, the Summer Zephyr ($8) is not a sandwich that I would normally order, but after trying it, it made me reconsider my stance on the subject. This sandwich was kind of like a caprese salad in sandwich form. Fresh mozzarella, marinated tomato, basil aioli, arugula, pickled onion, and a balsamic reduction was placed on a toasted french roll. Readers of this blog know that I am not too fond of big hunks of tomato, but with everything else going on here, the creamy mozzarella, the awesome basil aioli, and the tang from the balsamic, I enjoyed this sandwich. I know that when I bring Katie here, this will no doubt be her favorite sandwich.

My favorite sandwich on this afternoon, and one that I have thought about fondly in the recent days is this Baller ($8.50). Sessions take on a meatball sandwich is right up there with some of the best sandwiches I have had recently. Not overly sauced, the meatballs had a good beefiness to them, the red pepper marinara had a kick that was appreciated by my taste buds, and the basil aioli I initially felt would have been out of place, went perfect with this sandwich. Maybe I would ask for less arugula next time, but this was pretty close to a perfect meatball sandwich. If you are a meatball lover, try this sandwich and you will leave here very happy.

By this time, my buddy Chris and I were getting pretty full, but I had to try one of their gourmet hot dogs listed on the back of their menu. They all looked so good, but I settled on the Boomer ($8). This one came with bacon, grated cheddar, grain mustard, and red onion. All the fixings that make a good chili dog, minus the chili. I thought I was going to miss the chili, but the absence of it helped showcase how great this twelve inch, all beef hot dog was. Very dense, with a nice meaty flavor. Again, the mustard did not overpower, and bacon is always a good thing no matter what. I look forward to trying their pastrami dog, known as the Beast on my next trip.

Both Chris and I left Sessions completely full, but not with that heavy feeling. I think it's a testament to the quality ingredients they are using here. I mean we basically ate two full sandwiches between us, plus a half a hot dog, and did not collapse into a food coma. We even picked up Chris's daughter from school on the way home. We were very impressed with the sandwiches at Sessions, and look forward to them rolling out even more deliciousness with their full sandwich menu in the near future. The word is definitely getting out about Sessions. During our after lunch rush visit, they still had a steady stream of customers, including one of our beloved Anaheim Ducks partaking in a sandwich. Unfortunately, I was too distracted by the sandwiches at Sessions to strike up a conversation with him, but that just shows how great these sandwiches really are.

We would really like to thank Matt for taking the time to talk with us, and show off his great vision. We look forward to watching this place take off. Also, we need to thank the great PR pro, Janet Pacheco, for coordinating our visit to Sessions. We had a great time Janet.

For more information about Sessions Sandwiches, go to their website here: http://sessionssandwiches.com/index.php/#

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