I've been following Michael Voltaggio since I first had the privilege of tasting his food at his pre-fame gig, The Dining Room at the Langham Huntington, about three weeks before he was named Top Chef in Season 6. And I literally mean following, I see the guy everywhere. Anyway, if I was maybe rooting for Kevin before that meal, I was all about Michael the moment I tasted his chestnut soup with pressed chicken. It was divine. I'll refrain from going into more detail, since you can't get it anymore anyway. Since then I've had run-ins with MV at his service at Test Kitchen, at the Rising Star Chefs Gala last summer, and finally at his newest project, Ink.Sack on Melrose in W Hollywood. Just a couple doors down from Ink., his fine dining spot slated to open (at long last) in September, Ink.Sack is a casual sandwich shop serving up inventive slider-sized sammies for $4-$6. Michael has always impressed me with his flawless execution of playful concepts--see: his Test Kitchen offerings (a molecular "tiramisu" where the white creme was the coffee and the coffee-colored pearls were mascarpone; veal sweetbread "mcnuggets" with rhubarb ketsup, etc.) His talent level is equaled by his creativity and ambition, and I love his creations. I also love that Ink.Sack is fully committed to its hip street food concept--the cashiers wear neat tees designed in a special collaboration between Michael and The Hundreds, the beverage options are thoughtful/fun (Mexican coke, apple beer), and the sides are lowbrow-chic, like BBQ pork rinds or street fruit with chile, both $3. It's affordable, it's laidback, and it's simple. Well, as simple as MV gets. Can you call a mini sandwich with crispy curried chicken skin, chicken liver mousse and tomato simple? I suppose you can. Do not miss the cold fried chicken sandwich, it's a delight. Ink. Sack is just the right amount of whimsy, and the right amount of "only in LA"-ness. With the proliferation of food trucks and pop-ups in our city, a casual sandwich shop by a celeb José Andrés protegé is just so right now.
Speaking of the Spanish Godfather, I did enjoy the sandwich named for him, stuffed with three kinds of pork and manchego cheese. I don't think you can go wrong at Ink.Sack--more likely, you'll be back in line for another round...like me. The sandwiches are so petite, it's all too easy to justify getting another.