A late-morning mixer at B Street
There are those who claim that breakfast is the most important meal, providing the fundamental nutrients and energy that allow us to face the physical rigors of the day ahead, and I tend to agree with that assessment. But on a social, perhaps even a spiritual level, I also subscribe to the theory that brunch—especially brunch enjoyed with friends and acquaintances in a convivial atmosphere with plenty of tasty edible and drinkable options—provides us with the conversational and intellectual stimulation that make facing the sometimes grueling interactions of the coming work week bearable.
So it was a pleasant and welcome surprise on a recent Sunday morning that a friend and I received an e-note reading: “Doing brunch today at B Street at 11:30.” It seemed fitting on such a fine morning that our schedules synchronized to align our leisure time with that of several of our friends.
Entering B Street Public House and walking past the bustling semi-open kitchen takes you to the well-lit main room with its high ceiling; long, dark wood bar; glistening array of bottles and taps; and extensive blackboard listings of craft beers and food specials. Sturdy wooden tables and bench seats line the perimeter, and above the bar an array of big- and huge-screen TVs are tuned to assorted athletic events. A pleasant aromatic mélange of scents wafting from the kitchen as well as the perfume of assorted liquors and beers let us know we were in for a treat, both socially and gastronomically.
While waiting at the bar for the rest of our party to arrive, we ordered a Sierra Nevada Torpedo ($3.75) for myself, and a Bloody Mary ($6) for my companion from the friendly, rather preppyish, bartender. Both beverages were excellent and fortifying, the Bloody Mary carrying a pleasant hint of horseradish and Worcestershire sauce along with its celery stalk.
Eventually our ethnically diverse, multigendered and high-spirited assemblage—a subsection of Chico’s current crop of artists and musicians, including members of Bunnymilk, The She Things, Bran Crown, the Shimmies and Biggs Roller, along with significant others—coalesced at the bar. We then migrated to wooden picnic tables in the spacious, open-air back patio under the vintage Towne Lounge sign that serves as a reminder of the continuum of Chico’s socially dynamic drinking culture.
Food orders from the 15-item, type-written “Brunch Specialties” menu were discussed and placed, with a majority of the group agreeing that the Chicken Little ($12), with its combination of fried chicken, biscuit, cheese and eggs, enhanced with some sausage gravy, was a delicious and worthy top choice (and judging from the empty plates seen later, so it was). My companion and I chose to split the Cubano sandwich ($11), a generous amalgamation of ham, roasted pork, pickles and Swiss cheese cooked to perfection on thin, exquisitely toasted, crunchy white bread that was plenty for both of us.
Other popular selections were the poutine ($10), a generous—and rich—platter of duck fat french fries and cheese curds, dowsed with rich onion gravy, and the kimchi pastrami reuben ($13), featuring house-made kimchi accenting smoked pastrami and dressed with sesame-infused Thousand Island dressing. With all of these items settled on our adjoining tables, a veritable maelstrom of sharing and sampling, accompanied by a soundtrack of clattering silverware, clinking glasses, unrestrained laughter and rustling napkins arose.
All in all, it was a perfect way to wind up the week. We enjoyed excellent food and drink with an extraordinary bunch of friends, and the B Street patio provided just the right setting for an exuberant group brunch.