Once in a great while, something comes along that not only raises the bar for a given area, but also makes you appreciate how well even a simple thing can be done. In Newport Beach, the new restaurant that is rapidly winning over locals and tourists alike is The Trough Sandwich Kitchen. Located directly across from the Balboa Pavilion and just steps from the beach, the new sibling of Rancho Santa Margarita’s The Trough proves that there is still a place in this world for a great sandwich.
The Trough does one thing well (maybe two things if you include their excellent breakfast burritos) and that is creating a delicious sandwich. The Cheese Steak is an excellent example of how what has become a common, almost boring sandwich has been elevated by The Trough. Thinly sliced ribeye is topped with a creative provolone mornay sauce, mushroom duxelles and a flavorful peperonata. The flavors blend well and contrast nicely with their cornmeal roll, a slightly crunchy outside and tender interior. The roll is baked for them by OC Baking.
Where a slice of provolone is common on many versions of cheese steak, the provolone mornay sauce adds several layers of flavor to the sandwich. This classic cheese sauce adds layers of depth to the taste of the sandwich. The same thing with the mushroom duxelles, cooked in a process that intensifies the flavor of the mushrooms without the greasiness of your average sauteed mushrooms. Adding the peperonata, again taking simple ingredients such as mushrooms, peppers and onions and intensifying the flavors while creating a topping that is not dripping but instead works incredibly well on the sandwich.
Other sandwiches apply the same care to their creation. Da Guido is a salami sandwich with a twist, the Tuna Salad has textures that elevate this too-common sandwich to something special and the Chashu Pork adds freshly made pickled ginger, a house-marinated egg, Japanese-style Kewpie Mayo and arugula to hearty slices of braised pork belly on the cornmeal roll for a unique twist. Another popular sandwich is the Spaghetti Sandwich, with a rich Bolognese Sauce mixed with tender spaghetti, parmesan and a garlic herb butter on the cornmeal roll.
The “must try” sandwich at The Trough goes by the unlikely name of Vice. Many places make a Cubano Sandwiches with varying types of success. The Vice, however, is by far the best version of this tasty sandwich to come along in a long time. Tender carnitas is layered on the cornmeal roll with ham, Swiss cheese, pickled peppers and mustard. Unlike many versions of the Cubano, the sandwich is not pressed, avoiding the greasiness of many of this type of sandwich. Instead, the Swiss is melted gently over the meat. The pickled peppers add a nice sweet-sour layer of flavor and the mustard a brightness to the sandwich.
It is easy to describe in words this sandwich, but the Vice needs more than a description. It is one of those sandwiches that needs to be on a bucket list, a 10 top sandwiches or just a have to try short list. The way the flavors blend in this sandwich are just awesome and the textures in it also make for an adventure in eating.
One of the advantages of the way The Trough makes their sandwiches is that they are transportable. That means simply that they are perfect for carry-out, making The Trough and ideal starting point for carrying the sandwiches to the beach and enjoying them during possibly the most beautiful summer/fall season we’ve had in years. For locals on the Balboa Peninsula, that also means that ideas such as delivery of The Trough’s food via bicycle is an idea that just may make it much easier to enjoy good food without having to deal with traffic at the many apartments and homes on the Peninsula. That is an idea in the works and it is sure to be a popular service.
The Trough also serves sides such as salads, mac and cheese and even chili cheese tater tots. Breakfasts are also served all day, a nice feature for a lazy day when you are beaching it. Besides the breakfast burrito, to which can be added proteins such as steak, carnitas, bacon or chicken, there are plates of Chicken and Waffles, Pork Belly and French Toast and even Chili and Eggs.
The Trough is located at 705 E. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach (Balboa Peninsula). The phone is (949) 673-1029. The sister location is in Rancho Santa Margarita, on the Lake. The Trough’s website is www.TheTroughOC.com.