Holding the pickle
Henri is tickled with Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop
Chico, CA 95928
Henri had a somewhat unexpected encounter the other morning, occasioning a bittersweet stroll down rue memoir. I’d been shopping for spatulas at Collier Kitchen Supply and was looking around for my little Renault when I noticed a large pickle standing on the corner across the street.
I immediately recalled the last costume party that L. and I attended together, back in the Village, for couples only and with one rule: Costumes had to somehow complement each other. Of course, there were a handful of interesting “teams,” but the majority were uninspired and obvious variations on sub-dom themes—teachers and students, masters and slaves, trainers and “bad dogs.” Lots of leashes and collars and rubber and vinyl and PVC. Yawn.
On the other hand, L. and I had spent weeks on our costume and were quite proud of the results. Henri was a pickle, L. the jar. Naturally, we were hideously uncomfortable, L. no doubt more than moi, but we were a major hit. In fact, we just assumed that when it came time for the end-of-the-evening awards ceremony that we had first place in le sac.
So I naturally felt a certain bond with the human pickle I saw on the sidewalk the other day, and when I noticed his sign advertising the sandwich shop, I asked, rather self-consciously, for directions. Well, Mr. Pickle couldn’t have been nicer. He helpfully pointed down the street to the little eatery half a block away. Perfect!
Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop is one of a chain of 32 franchise stores that started on the peninsula in the Bay Area in 1995. More than half of them are in the Sacramento area, with one in Reno and one in Carson City. The menu features seven basic sandwiches (ham, roast beef, turkey, etc.) for $5.49, as well as 22 “Specialty Sandwiches” from $5.99 to $6.99, including the Golden Gate (chicken breast, teriyaki and jack cheese), the Little Pig (ham, bacon and American cheese), and the BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado), as well as vegetarian and meatball sandwiches. In addition, Mr. Pickle’s offers several different salads, including macaroni-and-potato, chef’s and tuna ($1.99 to $5.99).
Calling Mr. Pickle’s décor Spartan would be kind. A dozen or so Formica tables, matching stools and chairs, a self-serve refrigerator for drinks, a large-screen television in the back and completely bare walls except for a couple of small smiling-Mr. Pickle posters.
That’s OK, though. The sandwiches are excellent and the help friendly and enthusiastic. I ordered the Mr. Pickle (chicken breast, avocado, bacon and jack cheese) on sliced wheat bread. It was superb, all the ingredients delicious and fresh—the server took a whole avocado out of a bowl and halved and scooped it for my sandwich. That’s fresh. In fact, it was so good that I’ve been back twice since, the next day for the Manhattan (hot pastrami and Swiss) and then several days later for the Big Easy (chicken salad, Swiss and avocado), both of which I had on sourdough rolls, and both of which were delicious.
My only complaint: the breads are good and fresh but not all that interesting. With so much excellent bread available—including lots made locally—it seems that Mr. Pickle could offer a dark rye, a seeded or whole grain, perhaps something with herbs. Probably the limitations of a franchise.
L. and I didn’t win the first-place prize at the costume party, but we did get Honorable Mention in the “Best Edible” category. “Best Overall” went to Apollo 11 and the moon, though I’ve always suspected it was out of sympathy—the moon, who never stood up straight the entire evening, began to suffer severe back spasms shortly after midnight and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The next morning, over cappuccinos and the Times, L. suggested that if there were ever a next time, that Henri be the jar.