Tuesday, July 03, 2007

47 restaurants in 47 days: #2, Village Cheese House

Village Cheese House
157 Town & Country Village, El Camino Real @ Embarcadero, Palo Alto

The aroma of deep-fried onion rings at Kirk's Steakburgers almost lured me away from the Village Cheese House. But I pressed on, past the orange traffic cones and the dust and noise of the shopping center's much-needed renovation.

I'd heard good things about the sandwiches at the Cheese House, and I wasn't surprised to find German spaetzle mix, Swiss chocolates, and imported jams on the shelves. But Indian curry sauces? Sambal ulek? A dozen flavors of gumballs?

Scary Swiss mice guard the condiments.

The Cheese House will rent you a raclette grill, with "Swiss fire gel" to fuel it. You can buy a fondue pot, Danish Cheez Whiz, Hawaiian lilikoi juice, caviar in a tube, Glogg, sweet Maui onion potato chips, or Faygo Redpop. A corner of the store is given over to a jumble of wicker and nylon picnic baskets. There is a small assortment of wines, many displayed with handwritten recommendations.

A pyramid of hot sauces

The $6.45 sandwich "with the works" gets you a two-fisted meal stuffed with lettuce, tomato, peppers, onions, pickles, Swiss cheese (you can ask for other cheeses) and your choice of meat. The selection included about a dozen kinds of bread.

My smoked turkey was a double-decker, built with three slices of dark rye bread and some tasty "spread" resembling a mustardy mayonnaise. The lettuce was crisp, and all the ingredients were very fresh.

I was pretty hungry when I sat down at one of the patio tables (there is no seating inside), but I had to take half of my sandwich home for later. I left with mustard on my shirt and a smile on my face.

Village Cheese House in Palo Alto

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