I tangled with The Beast and lived to tell the tale at Christa’s Sandwichboard.
With a self-appointed title of “Home of the Four Napkin Sandwich,” and the recommendation of a friend, I went with what I thought was an appropriate appetite.
I was wrong.
Go hungry or prepare to be overstuffed (or, if you’re a reasonable person, need a take-home container) at Christa’s Sandwichboard in downtown Snohomish.
Leigh O’Brien, a childhood friend of mine, recommended a jaunt there for smashing sammies and Ladies Day. Ladies Day on Tuesdays comes with an offer of a mimosa for a penny, and the prospect of indulging in a little holiday spirit early was too tempting to pass up (for the ladies, of course).
“The food is always good, and filling,” Leigh said. “No skimping on ingredients/flavor. It’s all homemade, which is always great. Definitely a lunch place, rather than dinner. Yummy, good-priced mimosas.”
Aside from the mimosas, we ordered the artichoke dip ($10.95). It was plated beautifully, always a nice visual indicator to the quality of what’s inside, stark in its white dish atop a dark wood slab with adorable spreader knives. Savory artichoke, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese goodness smeared onto Tuscan toast was a pleasant starter. Leigh called it tasty, but as is her wont, said she would have preferred it with some kind of seasoning on top. Being of a more mild palate, I was happy to indulge in the creamy appetizer sans seasoning.
Leigh chose the El Supremo Olé ($13.50). The hot sandwich came with sliced roast beef, melted jack cheese, green chilies, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion and salsa. It looked incredible.
I’m a simple man, so sandwiches done up are always a hit. Bread, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sliced meat. These things are merriment embodied in layered form. We went well after the lunch crowd, which Leigh and her co-worker/friend Megan Kuehl said usually packed the place. It was nice to settle in during the mid-afternoon and have the place to ourselves for a spell.
Mostly, it gave Leigh’s partner Mike MacKenzie and I a few minutes to peruse the offerings. Were we jonesing for something hot or cold, saucy or dry, classic or adventurous?
For those keeping score, I’ll reiterate my culinary position: I’m no dining maven. So, despite all of the wondrous possibilities, I went for what read like a suped-up club or Monte Cristo, with turkey, ham, bacon, and avocado, named The Beast ($14.50). There was even a disclaimer: “Not for the timid.” That felt like a challenge, a notoriously difficult proposition for me to dismiss.
Perhaps The Behemoth — or Bellybuster or Bellymaker or Bellyacher — would be a more apt name and warning. It was indeed a monster. The sheer volume of meat layered on The Beast was daunting. Bacon crisped beautifully. Ham salted evenly. Turkey cooked tenderly.
Slap it all between my choice of wheat bread with chopped lettuce, slices of pickle and tomato, mayonnaise and mustard, and the thing was piled high enough that I took a moment to size it up, choose an approach for how to make my first bite (cut in half, diagonally, starting at one triangle tip and working my way toward the other corner). I thought I made a mistake, a classic case of having eyes bigger than my stomach.
Absolutely wrong. First bite, I was sold. Second bite, I was thinking how I’m going to be awfully bummed after this publishes and the next time I visit there’s a line and a wait for a table. Third bite, I was trying to justify how I could finish the whole sandwich using Faustian arithmetic (well, I ate a simple salad for lunch yesterday and only had a light turkey noodle soup for lunch today…).
Megan opted for her go-to choice there, the Christacado ($13.25). The cold sandwich has sliced turkey, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, tomato, onion, lettuce, mayo and mustard, served on sweet bread.
“Warm and homey atmosphere, wide and varied selection that’s sure to provide something for everyone,” Kuehl said. “Very generous portion sizes, a great place to snag a quick for or for a leisurely meal with loved ones.”
On a warmer day, I could envision that being my go-to, too.
Mike wasn’t able to get his first choice, the Mexican pizza on flatbread, because they were out of flatbread. He moved to the Super-Dooper ($13.00), with sliced pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, mayo and mustard. The marbled meat was a gorgeous pink-red, and smelled intoxicating.
“Food was very tasty, built for big flavor and a generous portion, too,” he said. “Service was prompt but not too pampering, kind of diner-like service without the fried sausage smell that hangs in your clothes.”
Each sandwich comes with a side, a comparatively small cup of coleslaw or macaroni, pasta or potato salad. Opting for the macaroni variety, I enjoyed the tang of the creamy sauce, the as-expected nicely cooked texture of the elbow pasta, and some of the zip in the seasonings.
It’s the kind of place that I’ll recommend to my friends as a perfect meetup, the kind of place I want to visit with my family for a nice, if beastly lunch. I imagine they’ll live to tell the tale, too.
Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037 | @benwatanabe
What: Sandwiches, charcuterie (cured, sliced meats and cheeses), cheese plates
When: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday