Comfort wagon

Wholesome ‘simply good food’ rollin’ up your street

Picture perfect: melty, crispy, tangy patty melt.

Picture perfect: melty, crispy, tangy patty melt.

PHOTO by jason cassidy

The Black Kettle
Mobile food truck

By the time I got back to my office and opened up my to-go box from The Black Kettle food truck, I was ravenous. The aroma of the patty melt inside had taunted me during my short drive back to work.

I looked down at the colossal sandwich in my hands. The meat alone—local beef, from the Chico State farm—was nearly half a pound. Piled on top was a generous portion of caramelized onions and swiss and pepper-jack cheeses. I’m not usually a mustard fan, but I wanted the full experience, so I agreed to the addition of the mustard aioli to the grilled sourdough bread and I’m glad I did.

My first bite was a little bit of heaven. The meat was flavorful and juicy, and the fixins added the perfect amount of melty texture and acidic zing to push the burger over the edge into crave-worthiness. My only regret was not requesting my burger cooked medium; as a default, I suppose, they cook them well-done (although it was still plenty moist). A side of potato chips came with the sandwich, though if the option would’ve been available, I would love to have had a hot side dish on the cool day.

This was my third visit to the trendy-looking green, black and white food truck that parks near my work, on the same block as Northern Star Mills, on Thursdays. There’s something intriguing about a restaurant that comes around once a week. (Those eager diners who don’t yet know the truck’s usual patterns can check The Black Kettle Facebook page for location updates.) A discussion with the delightful ladies inside the truck revealed intentions to find a more permanent place to park.

Creating gourmet meals in a kitchen the size of a large van is no easy task, and The Black Kettle’s menu—created fresh daily—is limited, sometimes to just two items or even one item each day, with rotating regular items plus daily specials written on the chalkboard menu. I find the unpredictability—both in location and menu—to be fun and a bit mysterious. It’s almost like a treasure hunt!

On my first visit, The Black Kettle offered grilled flatbread, topped with kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula and feta. Sausage was an optional add-on, but since I’m not much of a sausage fan, I left it off. I chatted with the gals preparing my meal while I waited. They seemed to take genuine pride in providing local, seasonal ingredients in their “simply good food,” and their interaction with customers created a fun ambiance around the small truck.

The flatbread was super yummy, especially after I pushed aside some of the arugula piled atop, giving some of the other toppings a chance to come through. The flatbread was fresh (while waiting, I watched as they took the time to roll out the dough for each portion) and it was cooked perfectly crisp. My favorite part was the artichoke hearts, and I was pleased to find a generous portion of them. I very much enjoyed my hearty, healthy lunch.

I returned once more to try the potato-kale soup, and though this was my least favorite of the three dishes, it was well made. My personal preference would be for the kale to have been chopped or even pureed. As served, the large pieces of leafy greens were a bit difficult to eat. I also needed to add a dash of salt to bring the flavor to life.

In all, I’m impressed by the offerings at The Black Kettle. To create truly delicious, locally sourced, gourmet lunches for less than $10 out of a truck is quite a feat. I look forward to seeing what other items show up on the little chalkboard menu and tasting more of what The Black Kettle has to offer—maybe next Thursday?