@Mr. Pickles Sandwich

Honey-moon stage is over, but behind the fancy smiles and glamour is still a damn good sandwich. 

5 star on food. 3 Star on staff-customer relations and everything else. I used to give this place an overall 5 star because their sandwiches were BETTER than Deli-licious AND the staff was hella friendly. Come here for the food and you won’t be disappointed.

I had been going to the Lake Forest location for my Mr. Pickles’ fix so naturally I was excited about the prospects of making regular commutes in my hometown. I’ve been going to the HB one since they opened up and hadn’t been disappointed those first few months: everything that was great about the Lake Forest location carried over, including a good staff , friendly smiles and conversation, not to mention the top-notch sandwich variety and quality. And a FREE COOKIE.

Well, that “honey-moon stage” lasted a few months, as I’ve noticed a decline. No, their sandwiches are still amazing, down to the customization and delicious DUTCH-CRUNCH bread. I still order my Mr. Pickles with bacon, chicken, avocado, garlic sauce, and other assortments. That Mr. Pickle is my favorite sandwich in Orange County, hands-down. The calorie count on the board is hella misleading (you gotta add every item’s calorie count individually to get your sandwich’s actual total calories) but I can overlook it with a damn tasty sandwich. And that complimentary cookie is (still) delectable.

But seemingly like all relationships, the honey-moon phase gradually ended. Their staff is no longer as happy or friendly as reviews (and personal experience) suggested. I see more recent reviews mentioning this and I felt compelled to write a review and offer some more legitimacy to this point, as a frequent-er or regular. I used to talk to all the staff members, busy or not, and everyone used to flash a smile and engage in small talk. Even if they were super busy, I still felt like I was a valued customer; most of my friends who I recommended try it out agreed with me: they really made an effort to make sure it was an enjoyable sandwich and experience, down to recommendations and even offering the going-to-be-thrown-out-anyway bread dough with garlic sauce to munch on while you wait for the sandwich to be made. Now it seems like they look at you with disgust when you request this.. it’s bread you were throwing out anyway, it’s like a total 3-5 seconds to add on sauce and hand it to me. 

It’s courtesy and hospitality that made you guys stand-out to your typical fast-food shops, and why “FRIENDLY.STAFF” made the page’s “Review Highlights” and I hate to say but it’s a good thing it’s been dropped from this. And they used to tell you about the buy-9-get-the-10th sandwich free stamp-card, but now they just stamp your receipt (instead of the card) and don’t tell you why. 99% of people throw away their receipts with no knowledge of this. I get that they’ve gotten busier but I’m disappointed this is an excuse for the staff’s friendliness. I usually don’t tip a fast-food place, but  I tipped early on because they came off as more-than-a-fast-food. That’s not the case any more.

This comes off as a negative review, but understand that it’s a constructive critical review from a regular; I’m still a regular because these sandwiches are my legal-crack. The plethora of sandwich choices, even their choice in toppings, are hands-down my favorite in Orange County and all of southern California.

4 out of 5 stars

Smoked Pork Loin on Dutch Crunch, Homemade (Oakland, CA)

The other day it started raining in big heavy drops while I was out giving the ol’ smoke to a three pound pork loin. 

Smoke from the wood chips is joined by steam from the drops evaporating all over the super hot BBQ surface.

Missing pics here but basically the loin is seared on either side quickly, then set on the cool side of the smoker, glazed with chili sauce & rotated every 30-40 minutes as fresh wood chips are added.

Carves up nice & moist. The outer edges & fatty layer focus on the flavors of smoke, black pepper, chili, & sugar. The juicy interior stays very porky.

The smoke was only on it for an hour and fifteen minutes so you might notice there isn’t much of a smoke ring, but that’s okay with a relatively fast-cooking, tender roast like loin. This was finished in the oven on low.

“cuz the Dutch STAY crunchin”

Corn salad of bacon, jalapeño, shallot, chives, pozole seasoning, cilantro, & lots of lime juice.

All slapped onto one delicious sammy with just a taste of Thai chili sauce under the loin. I like a nice tart limeade with mine thank you.