Last Saturday I was in the neighborhood and poked my head into the new Top Round Roast Beef. Turned out it was opening day.
I love that it preserved Discolandia's distinctive façade.
The specialty here are roast beef sandwiches made from house-roasted top round and available in several iterations. I ordered the "Horse and Hole", $7.99, that adds horseradish cream, roasted mushrooms and provel cheese to the standard issue.
It actually took longer for me to wait in line and to order than for my food to arrive. The manager told me that the goal is to fill orders in less than 2 minutes. A staffer explained that everything is assembled to order. Toasting the bun takes 30 seconds and within that time, the meat is sliced to order and other ingredients assembled to put onto the bread.
The thinly sliced beef was juicy and tender as promised. But not very beefy in flavor, pretty bland but for the seasonings. Mushrooms were good. The horseradish was not atomic, but was applied quite heavily so the flavor did come through. The cold slice of unmelted provel cheese was a waste. The soft bread compresses and gets stuck in one's teeth. I did try one of the sauces from the self-serve counter. However, the jus did not add much other than salt and caramel flavor.
I went through the line a second time to get a Cali Chicken sandwich to take to a friend. And got a frozen custard cone for me.
Though the poster promotes the frozen custard as creamier than ice cream, this was not at all. The texture was quite icy with some large crystals. That was a considerable feat considering how unfrozen this seemed to be. I almost wondered if it had the required eggs in it. The staffer had a difficult time forming a scoop because it was so soft. And as can be seen in this photo taken right at the counter as soon as it was handed to me, it's melting and dripping a lot. Vanilla is the only flavor for now, and it hardly tastes like vanilla.
My friend enjoyed the Chicken Cali sandwich, saying the fried chicken was fine if you did not mind the Sysco quality bread, tomato and lettuce. Sounds similar to my conclusion that the roast beef tastes fresh and preservative-free, but just isn't very high quality material. What you're getting here is fast food commodity ingredients prepped fresh to your order. Maybe that's what the chain means by "chef-driven".
The cashier and other staff were lovely and eager to please. I had asked the manager if there was a St. Louis connection given the provel cheese and frozen custard on the menu. He assured me that this was a California-based restaurant group, originating from Los Angeles. But then he corrected himself and said that one of the partners was from St. Louis.
The place was very busy at noon time on Saturday. There seems to be a lot of interest in Top Round. Maybe I'll be back to try the fries since they're fried in beef fat and to see if the frozen custard-making improves. And I'm kind of curious about the kale slaw. But I'm done with the roast beef and chicken sandwiches.
Top Round Roast Beef
2962 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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