Generosandwich, I think I sorta maybe love you, well maybe ‘love’ isn’t the right word… — so today I thought I would wander over to the maximegamall to see if what I was looking for was in stock at a Best Buy (it wasn’t), and on the way I figured I would pick up lunch. There was this one generic-enough looking eatery I kept passing in recent months that had finally been finished, and I decided I would have what looked to be an overpriced sandwich there just to see whether or not it was in fact overpriced. And so I went to a Lawry’s for the first and last time.

As you can somewhat scarily see from that link, Lawry’s, originally kicking off back in 1938 in Beverly Hills and arguably more famous in general for its seasoned salt than anything else, has this thing trying to recreate Brit cuisine as such over here — which basically translates into questions about how to eat roast beef. Turns out there’s some allegedly famous restaurant down in Newport Beach that they run called Five Crowns: “A beautiful replica of one of England’s oldest country inns, Five Crowns is a place of candlelight and cozy fireplaces… where good cheer and warm hospitality invite you to leave your cares at the door.” Well, how special. Then there’s the Tam O’Shanter Inn and do I need to say anything more?

Thankfully this place, which apparently doesn’t rank its own website, was designed as a functional place where one gets a sammich and homemade potato chips rather than some trumpeter playing “The Roast Beef of Old England”* or the like. Instead it holds to the principle I heard of twenty years back that you know whether you’re getting fast food or not depending on whether you look up or down at the menu. I was looking up but the food actually took a little bit of time between ordering and being brought to the table, so hey.

But was it any good? I guess…but it was generic, as mentioned. It would have been a French dip sandwich if it weren’t for the peppercorn sauce I had ordered instead. The bread was there, the beef okay but I’ve had juicier, the chips were chips. Hrm. Well the iced tea was okay too, but that was also generic IE Lipton’s. And overall, far too expensive for what I was expecting, as the sandwich was smallish. You get a lot more at the local Boudin, and while that’s a designed-for-mall-shoppers experience too, the bread alone makes it worthwhile.

And so hail and farewell Lawry’s! I have no doubt that you will exist.

* They really should have done, though, with a choir or something. Imagining shoppers at South Coast Plaza being greeted with a massed chorale of this is a beautiful and wrong scenario:

When mighty Roast Beef
Was the Englishman’s food,
It ennobled our brains
And enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave
And our courtiers were good
Oh the Roast Beef of old England
And old English Roast Beef

But since we have learnt
From all-vapouring France
To eat their ragouts
As well as to dance,
We’re fed up with nothing
But vain complaisance
Oh the Roast Beef of Old England
And old English Roast Beef

Damned frogs! Pass the freedom fries.