Melt with you
Henri gets all gooey for grilled cheese
Black Crow Grill & Taproom209 Salem St.
Chico, CA 95928
Colette’s first summer in Chico and she’s wilting. Heat. Humidity. Houseflies.
We’ve tried to distract ourselves with old movies. But even the Trevi Fountain and the wet foggy night at the Casablanca airport don’t take our minds off the heat.
“I don’t know how much longer I can take this,” she said the other night as I got up to freshen the damp towel I keep draped across my forehead. “This is bad.”
I keep telling her that the end’s in sight. The “ber” months. Even September—cooling evening breezes and hints of crisp, leafy autumn days. Soon.
One night, we just had to get out. I suggested cold drinks downtown.
I’d forgotten that the college students had just returned, though, and we were both unprepared for the chaos on the streets. We took refuge in Tanqueray and tonics at the bar at the Black Crow Grill & Taproom. Ah, just what the docteur ordered, although we felt a bit out of place among the young, rather rambunctious crowd. We were just getting ready to head back out, when our waitress put a couple of paper menus in front of us. “Late Nite at the Crow—Grilled Cheese Sandwich Bar.”
Sacre bleu! A special menu featuring nothing but grilled-cheese sandwiches? Smoked gouda. Manchego. Heirloom tomatoes. Roasted garlic. Grilled onions.
Colette handed me a napkin and discreetly suggested I wipe my chin. “Late-night snack?” she asked. “We could split one.”
Not what I wanted to hear.
“Or … “
We ordered back-up drinks and read over the menu.
While the Black Crow serves lunch Monday through Friday and dinner every night, they offer their grilled-cheese sandwich bar Friday and Saturday nights only. Eight different sandwiches are available, including the Oinker (smoked Gouda, ham, smoked bacon, and roasted onions), the Italian Veggie (provolone, pesto, and ratatouille), and the Apple Pie (Swiss cheese, Granny Smith apple slices, and smoked bacon). All sandwiches are $6.95 and come with a side of house-made chips.
Henri was impressed right away with the breads—most of them. While the cheese—and other ingredients—in a grilled-cheese sandwich are critical to the overall product, even the best cheese can’t make up for the wrong bread. Six of the Crow’s eight sandwiches are served on San Francisco sourdough. Très bien. The Italian Veggie comes on focaccia (intriguing), the American on white (yawn).
While the Apple Pie was tempting, Henri ordered the Californian, which came with cheddar, avocado, heirloom tomatoes and bacon. Colette went with the MBBT (fresh mozzarella, basil, bacon and tomatoes).
Mon dieu! My sandwich was delicious. The avocado and bacon—while not generous in amount—complemented perfectly the thick, gooey orange cheddar oozing out between the slices of fresh sourdough, grilled to a golden, toasty crunch.
Colette, a huge fan of basil, was a bit disappointed, though. At first, she thought the chef might have forgotten the basil altogether, but then she peeled the top slice of bread off and saw a few tiny sprigs of basil pressed into the mozzarella. Thankfully, the waitress noticed Colette’s distress and agreed that the amount of basil was rather skimpy. Nobly, she insisted on “fixing” the sandwich, which she took back to the kitchen and returned with a couple of minutes later vastly improved by several large leaves of fresh basil. Colette was delighted with the revision.
We finished our drinks, boxed up half of Colette’s sandwich, and headed back out onto the streets. It had cooled down just a bit, a hint of a breeze was kicking up, and there were even a few dry leaves swirling on the sidewalks. Even the chaos of the rowdy college students wasn’t so annoying.
Henri is so ready for fall.