Sunday, March 6, 2011

Checkers in Calistoga

I'll be honest -- this isn't something new I did today, but it was a new experience for me this weekend. To continue the honesty: there was no way I was doing a single damned thing today, because my body hates me for what I did to it yesterday (seemed like a good idea at the time. I don't have any regrets, except for not sticking to 10 tastings despite the technical ability to procure more...)

While I was waiting for the pourings to begin, I was actually pretty hungry and figured I'd be better off if I had some food in my system (little did I know about those big $1 hot dogs down at CalMart), so I decided to pop into Checkers, a restaurant on Lincoln Ave (the main street through Calistoga) which I had often walked past but never been to. Something about the whimsical, casual, "diner-like" appearance of it always made me skeptical. But I'm glad I gave it a shot!

The place was nicer inside than I expected, and the menu also more interesting than I had anticipated. The butternut squash ravioli with roasted chicken sounded interesting, but I was in the mood for a sandwich so I went with the leg of lamb sandwich and it was really a good choice! First of all, they brought out some bread and it turned out to be focaccia -- which is often hit-or-miss; focaccia seems to often suffer from being stale, or overcooked, too dense or too chewy or too dry. Not here! This focaccia was super light, fluffy, spongey, and delicious... it might just be the best focaccia bread I have ever had.

Luckily, that's also what they serve their sandwiches on! (Sorry, no photo -- in retrospect I wish I had taken one, if just to show the delicious juiciness of the meat and fresh, pillowy softness of the focaccia. But I was starving and it was just too enticing to bother with photography.) This was a great way to eat leg of lamb -- the meat pre-sliced and ready to go, all juicy and dripping like it should be, but neatly piled on the bread, along with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted garlic (so good), monterey jack cheese, mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce. The sandwiches come with soup or salad, and I went with a basic salad which wasn't that great -- I have a feeling their soups are better -- but the sandwich itself was fantastic. I'll be back!

EDIT: I did go back for another lunch, and the leg of lamb sandwich was just so perfect that I didn't bother trying anything new -- except this time I got a cup of soup with it instead of salad. It was a white bean soup, and I was right: better than their salads. And I took a photo of the sandwich this time! Look at all that fluffy bread and roasted garlic...

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