Greek mythology tells the tale of Damon and Pythias. It is a tale of friendship that has withstood the ages and while I won’t get into the details, calling a restaurant Damon and Pythias is kind of like saying, “you’re gonna be best friends with this place.” It is quite a claim and one that I was ready to test. Located in the heart of Westwood, Damon and Pythias serves mostly sandwiches and salads, but with some more normal entrees and even some hot dogs. The food is priced a little bit high for college students in the area, but for a working man like myself, the prices looked amazing.
The first thing you notice when walking in is the succulent smell of garlic. This is due to their garlic fries, which I just had to try. But then I noticed the menu also had other fry options, one of which being Blue Cheese fries. Struggling to choose between the two, I decided I had to have both and would just split them with the table. But fries would not be enough to get me through the meal, I also needed something meaty.
Enter the LA Cheesesteak, one of the specialties of the place. This cheesesteak was a world away from it’s cousin in Philly other than the fact that there was both cheese and steak in the sandwich. The steak was sliced up thick flank steak that had been marinated in balsamic and spices and the cheese was blue cheese dressing. On top of that, it was made with crispy onions, field greens and tomatoes. And rather than being contained by a hoagie, this cheesesteak was put inside grilled focaccia bread. I ordered mine without the onions, field greens and tomatoes to make it a true cheesesteak, then added a beer to the tab and took my seat.
While waiting for the food to come, I took a look at my receipt and noticed I had been given a 10% student discount on everything except the beer. And they hadn’t even asked me for a student ID. Still got it!
The blue cheese fries came first and looked heavenly, even Greek godly. These weren’t simply fries with blue cheese on them, but perfectly crispy curly fries that refused to get soggy even under the pressure of the blue cheese dressing. Not only that, but they were also topped with garlic to add additional, yet not overwhelming flavor.
Then came the cheesesteak with my additional garlic fries. The sandwich looked mighty tasty and I dug in immediately only to come back with the taste of disappointment. It seemed they had neglected to prepare my sandwich without the crispy onions. While these onions are much less offensive than their raw or caramelized buddies, they were wholly unwelcome in my cheesesteak. I opened the bread and quite easily removed them from the situation, then got back to my eating. I found the blend of blue cheese and steak to be an interesting take on the cheesesteak, but it did not compare to the Philly sort with Cheez Whiz. The steak itself was cooked quite well to a nice medium, but the blue cheese dressing seemed much better suited for the fries.
In truth, I think the LA Cheesesteak had doomed itself based on its name. Had it just been called a steak sandwich, I wouldn’t have held such high hopes for the thing. Instead, though, I found myself comparing it to the original, against which it couldn’t hold up. Taken just as itself, it tasted great (after the onions), so I will review it thus, but do not try this sandwich thinking it will be the next Philly Cheesesteak or you will be let down.
Oh and before I forget, the garlic fries were damn good, but not quite as good as the blue cheese fries. I fear the first fries spoiled me, but if you’re not a fan of blue cheese, the regular garlic fries will not let you down.
Despite my complaints, Damon and Pythias is definitely a place I would return to. For their fries alone it is worth it, and although they didn’t make the world’s greatest cheesesteak, they still came up with a unique sandwich that is often hard to find. Next time, though, there better not be any onions.