Top Round Roast Beef hopes to put a new spin on a retro quick-service favorite — the roast beef sandwich — when it opens next week in Los Angeles.
The concept, which will offer a menu of roast beef sandwiches, curly fries and frozen custard, will debut on June 17. Top round is a collaboration between four fine-dining chefs and operators, most of whom met while working for Mina Group’s various restaurants, including Los Angeles’ now-defunct XIV.
Those involved include Anthony Carron, /owner of Los Angeles’ 800 Degrees pizza concept; Noah Ellis, co-owner of Red Medicine in Beverly Hills, Calif.; Steven Fretz, most recently executive chef for celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s group; and Jamie Tiampo, an investor in New York restaurants dell’anima, L’Artusi and L’Apicio, operated by Epicurean Management. Los Angeles-based Top Round Parent LLC will operate the concept.
The idea for Top Round came from late-night conversations about great sandwiches and regional variations on roast beef across the country, Carron told Nation’s Restaurant News. Other than Arby’s, no national chains specialize in roast beef sandwiches, he noted, and most quick-service concepts rely on processed roast beef.
“No one’s tried to update it and modernize it,” Carron said. “We had the better burger trend, but we said how come nobody’s thought to make a better roast beef sandwich?”
Top Round will use meat sliced from slow-roasted, whole top round cuts of choice beef.
“The goal is to offer something that’s wholesome, made-to-order and fresh, but still quick serve,” Carron said. “We want to be the In-N-Out Burger of roast beef.”
The menu will include six composed sandwiches, all served with au jus and special seasoning on a butter-toasted bun, and ranging in price from $4.75 to $6.45. Options will include Horse in the Hole, with horseradish cream, Provel cheese — a Midwestern favorite — and sautéed mushrooms; and Beef on Weck, featuring a German-style kummelweck roll topped with kosher salt and caraway.
Not for vegetarians
The concept will not offer non-meat options, Carron noted, saying, “Vegetarians will be in trouble.” Even the curly fries, made in-house from Idaho potatoes, will be fried in beef tallow, another step back in time.
“We’re doing it the way it used to be done, before about 1985, when people started going crazy about cholesterol,” Carron said.
In the mid-1980s, most quick-service chains began frying with hydrogenated vegetable oils, as they were considered more healthful than animal fats. Today, the trans fats found in those oils are considered unhealthful, so there is an argument to return to the old frying methods, he said.
Top Round will offer gravy, Provel cheese, caramelized onions and Round Sauce, its version of barbecue sauce, to top the fries.
“Extra-rich” frozen vanilla custard is on the dessert menu as the base for milkshakes, malts, sundaes or concretes, mixed with various toppings, fruits and syrups.
To add a modern touch, the restaurant also will have a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, Carron said.
Though beef prices hit record highs recently and commodity experts are predicting costs to increase through 2017, Carron said the concept will be able to keep prices reasonable because the menu is based on whole top round cuts, which are relatively inexpensive, at $2.25 to $2.50 per pound.
Top Round’s unit will have about 40 seats inside and out and be located in a former doughnut shop. The restaurant is designed with scalability in mind, Carron noted, though the group intends to get the first unit up and running smoothly before adding more.
“We created it with a simple operating model, so it’s franchiseable — if people like it,” Carron said.
Carron said he and Fretz will develop the menu, Ellis will manage the front of the house and Tiampo, a food stylist and video production expert, will handle marketing and branding.
Though Carron and Ellis are partnered with Adam Fleischman of Umami Restaurant Group on 800 Degrees and Red Medicine, respectively, Top Round is being developed separately, Carron said.
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