Used to be, the kind of sandwich you picked up in wine country was simple fare. It was the kind of thing you grabbed without too much thought during a routine pit stop between winery visits, to stave your hunger until you tucked into your real meal later that night. Back then, ham and cheese on white was as good as it got, and that was just fine by you.
But when you weren't looking wine country sandwiches went from simple fare to serious grub, matching up the best artisanal breads with dynamite locally sourced produce, luxe ingredients, and lots of personality. Read on for the 411 on the best of the new breed of high end 'wiches in wine country. And you never know: You may just find that one of these midday delights bests your five-star dinner – some of them are that good.
Brand spanking new at venerable picnic supply stop-over Oakville Grocery is the Caprese Sandwich, made with the traditional mozzarella-tomato-basil ingredients and served with balsamic vinaigrette on sourdough from Berkeley-based Acme Bread Company. At $7.95 a ‘wich it’s not exactly a steal, but this fun take on a classic salad is worth every penny. Those looking for a complete meal can order the Caprese as part of a boxed lunch, which for $17.95 includes the ‘wich, fruit, pasta salad, and an extra large cookie. And don’t forget to grab a bottle from the spot’s small but well-edited wine section on your way out. Bon apetito.
Oakville Grocery, 7859 Hwy. 29, Oakville, CA (707) 944-8802
Skirt the Issue
Ask most folks and they’ll tell you the hot Open-Faced Egg Sandwich is THE way to go at western Sonoma County’s country chic Willow Wood Market-Café. But I think the warm Grilled Skirt Steak Sandwich gives its eggy counterpart a run for its money, especially when you consider the divine combination made by its white cheddar, arugula, and home-made avocado salsa ingredients. Simple, unfettered and totally delicious, the ‘wich arrives on locally-made Artisan Bakers bread with an extra crunchy pickle on the side, for $13.95. Try it with a pint of ice cold Black Butte Porter drawn freshly from the tap for a truly out-of-this-world ‘wich experience.
Willow Wood Market-Café, 9020 Graton Road, Graton, CA (707) 823-0233 willowwoodgraton.com
It's hard not to be in a good mood when you walk into St. Helena’s popular new seafood spot, the aptly named Go Fish. The bright blue and yellow motif and abundance of natural light remind me of a cozy seaside Mediterranean villa, which is just fine by this long-time Cannes fan. Even better, the recently updated lunch menu includes the decadent Dungeness Crab Cake Sandwich, which arrives warm with arugula, red onions, and tartar sauce on a buttery brioche bun, for $16 (includes choice of fries or vegetables). Add a glass of the organic Ceago Clear Lake Sauvignon Blanc to take this ‘wich to still greater gastronomic heights. Who says you can’t have your fish and eat it in a sandwich too?
Go Fish, 641 Main St., St. Helena, CA (707) 963-0700 gofishrestaurant.com
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