Orange County loves it’s communal dining spaces. Whether you’re going to the Anaheim Packing House, Trade food hall, or 4th street market, there’s always up and coming food spots for you to try. I really like this concept, because there is a chance to try several different types of food in one place. It’s an interesting evolution of the mall food court into something special. Steelcraft Garden Grove just recently opened up and with the current Covid-19 restaurant orders it’s an ideal spot because of its great outdoor dining area.
As of writing this, there is only one place that serves sandwiches at Steelcraft Garden Grove, and that’s The Penalty Box; A burger restaurant owned by NHL Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne. I don’t know anything about hockey, but I’ve been told that he is a big deal. The first time I heard of him was in reference to his Steak Tavern in Laguna Beach (which is great).
The Penalty Box Tri-Tip Special
I really wanted to the the Tri-tip sandwich special but I’m not sure how long it’ll be around for. So with you in mind, I decided to also try one of the burgers off of their regular menu (purely out of concern for you, of course).
I’ve found that almost all of the more upscale burger places I’ve been to in OC use a brioche bun. It’s more flavorful and fancier than a regular hamburger bun, but I’m not always a fan. The Penalty Box Brioche bun is one of the better ones that I have had, and it works very well with the tri-tip sandwich. When used with a burger, the brioche is more forgettable.
The Tri-tip sandwich’s meat is stellar. I would expect nothing less from the casual cousin of a great OC steakhouse. It’s an interesting mix of creamy fat from the jalapeno cream cheese combined with the sweetness of tomato jam. You can’t really taste the jalapeno in the cheese, but the meatiness of the tri-tip is very apparent and nicely balanced by the peppery arugula.
The Broken Rib Burger is much more rich. The Penalty Box burger blend has a good amount of fat in it, so the burger patty itself is great on it’s own. On top of the burger is braise bourbon barbecue shortrib, a sweet and rich addition to an already rich burger. To optimize the indulgence, the burgersmiths at the Penalty Box also add a smoked gouda fondue and crispy onion ring. The onion ring is integral, it adds come much needed crunch; and finally some arugula to cut the fat just a bit.
The Tomato Jam on the Tri-tip sandwich is pretty sweet. It mixes well with everything, but it does slightly overpower the flavors in the sandwich. I’d actually be interested to taste the sandwich without the jam and see how it holds up. Cream cheese is a good pairing for sweet jams so it mixes well, but If you don’t like sweet sandwiches you may want to try something else.
The Broken Rib is very rich in delicious fats, with the cheese and shortrib adding so much substance to the burger. The “Sin-Bin” sauce is like the Penalty Box’s burger sauce, it’s subtle compared to the stronger flavors of the cheese and meats. Honestly, I prefer it this way for this burger, because the short rib is very good and the burger patty stands on its own very well.
The sandwiches/burgers here will run you between $10-$15 al la carte. So it’s a little pricier than some casual burger spots, but the quality of food is quite good for what you’re getting. When you add a side of potatoes and a drink you’re going to run just under $20 for your meal. The portions are decent but really you are paying for the flavors and quality of food. The outdoor setting of Steelcraft is very nice for those of you who are dying to break out of the house for a bit (but bring your F@*!ing mask).
The Penalty Box at Steelcraft
12900 S Euclid St
Garden Grove, CA 92840