Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More Tasty Lunches From Market Gourmet

Being so close to Market Gourmet @ Montrose has been a very good thing recently during my daily lunch excursions. Since opening his doors in late August, Chef Jeff Winer has been attempting to not only establish his small shop selling gourmet food and wine, but also running a lunch and (early) dinner counter serving up tasty soups, salads, sandwiches, and sides. As his customer base has grown, he has added high-quality items that only continue to enhance the experience for his guests.

One of the principles that Jeff is committed to is seasonality of food. As the summer and fall have come and gone, certain produce items that were once tasty and easy to come by (such as tomatoes) are now impractical, either because they are too expensive to use or just don't taste good this time of year. Because of that, a new menu has rolled out that "tweaks" their current menu. Many of the favorites will remain, such as the house roasted turkey and beef, but the tarragon chicken salad will have to be put to bed for the season.

While my last visit consisted of me talking about the roasted turkey sandwich on the ciabatta roll, today's first of two lunch visits represented a continued exploration of other popular menu items. For lunch today, I decided go with a California Chicken sandwich on sourdough bread, a bag of the Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt Dirty potato chips, and a can of diet soda:

My Lunch on 10-28-2010
The day that I stopped in, Market Gourmet was running a special: For only $1.50, you could pair any bag of chips and can of soda with a salad or sandwich. Which meant that for only a few dollars more than a "value" meal at one of the myriad of fast food restaurants in Montrose, not only could I have a much better TASTING lunch, but also a healthier one, too. After paying for my meal, I retired to one of the newly installed tables to enjoy my spoils. Originally thinking that people would prefer to take their food to go, he has wisely added four tables to the small space, two two-tops and two four-tops.

Here was a shot of my grilled California Chicken sandwich:

California Chicken Sandwich on Sourdough
And a shot of the interior layers of the sandwich:

Side Shot of California Chicken Sandwich
In addition to the grilled chicken, the other layers included applewood smoked bacon, avocado, micro arugula, Jarlsberg cheese and pesto aioli. As with all of the sandwiches I have tried at Market Gourmet, what struck me about today's choice was the emphasis of balance in flavors and textures. The grilled sourdough and crisp bacon added some wonderful crunch while the tender chicken and mashed avocado had a wonderful creaminess. The arugula worked well to add a bit of peppery flavor and the bacon added just enough smoke and salt to balance out the other flavors. Was this my favorite sandwich so far? No, but it was a darn good one.

Accompanying my lunch today was another favorite of mine, Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt potato chips from Dirty:

Salt and Pepper Dirty Chips
Entirely basic in their seasoning, the chips are super crisp, fried in a heart-healthy oil, and honestly, just taste great. I noticed that Market Gourmet was frying up their own chips during this visit, but having already paid for this bag, I resigned myself to trying them out the next time I go back. All I know was that the Dirty chips were an excellent pairing to an already excellent sandwich. Chef Winer admitted that he didn't realize how well the chips would sell, but when offered a quality product like these, it came as no surprise to me that they literally flew off the rack.

On my second visit, I noticed that not only was the new menu available in paper take-out form (as it was last time), but the new wall menu had also been posted. Seeing as I didn't even consider taking a new photograph of the wall menu until this very moment as I'm writing these words, I obviously don't have a shot to include in this review. That being said, Jeff did indicate that the website has the current menu on it, so I'd advise you to take a look there if you'd like a preview. Fortunately, only a few menu items changed, and the more popular items definitely stuck around.

Between my last review and this one, I've covered both the roasted turkey and the California chicken sandwiches. Today, I decided to go for a sandwich with which I have truly fallen in love: House Roasted Beef and Brie on a toasted pretzel roll. I had this sandwich on my second visit to Market Gourmet and other than the last time when I had the California chicken, have had this particular sandwich enough times since then that the staff feigns surprise when I order something different.

In lieu of the chips (which I talked about from the last visit), today I decided to pair my sandwich with a bit of the soup du jour, Jambalaya, and another of the diet Sierra Mists that were located in the reach-in cooler next to the tower of chips. After assembling and paying for my meal, I retired to one of the open tables and took a photo of my lunch:

My Lunch on 11-2-2010
Here was a close-up shot of the Jambalaya:

Naturally thickened with the starches that came out of the rice during cooking, this soup was at that perfect spot between a runny liquid and a thick viscous stew. That being said, the rice hadn't fallen completely apart and still had some nice texture to them. Between the natural spice in the andouille sausage and some additional cayenne, the soup had a moderate amount of spice to it which gently hit me at the back of my throat. The seasoning was quite well done and had I not had a sandwich to think about, another bowl of this would've definitely filled me up for lunch today.

That being said, it was time to turn my attention to the reason for my visit today:

Roasted Beef and Brie Sandwich on Pretzel Bun
Here was a side shot of the sandwich:

Side Shot of Beef and Brie Sandwich
As I mentioned in my first review, Chef Winer roasts all his own turkey breast and beef for use at the Market Gourmet. This meant that neither meat had any of that chemical or overly salted taste to them that I find so common in deli cuts you get elsewhere. While I am a big fan of hot roast beef sandwiches, I have never been a huge fan of the cold deli cut version. Until now. The roast beef is tender, seasoned so that it enhances the flavor of the meat instead of taking over, and tastes like no other cold roast beef I've ever eaten before.

A generous heaping of roast beef had been placed on a split and toasted pretzel bun along with fresh lettuce and several slices of a mild Brie. The piece de resistance was the binder that brought it all together, a sweet mustard that was generously applied to both sides of the split bun. The Brie had slightly melted from the heat of the warmed bun. In one bite, you had sandwich perfection: tender, creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, and tangy. The only sensation missing was spiciness, but fortunately, the lingering heat from the Jambalaya took care of that for me. If you don't think you are a cold roast beef fan, I implore you, gentle reader, to give this sandwich a try. As much as I like to explore a menu, I find myself coming back to this sandwich time and again because it is just so DARN good!

Between my sandwich and my soup today, I definitely left Market Gourmet with a full stomach and a happy mouth. Having only being open for such a short period of time, Chef Winer has seriously impressed me with his food. It has consistently been fresh and tasty and I've already dragged at least one co-worker with me for lunch and a number of others have actually stopped by my desk when I did take-out and asked what I was having and where I got it. Market Gourmet is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10:30 AM until 6:30 PM, Friday from 10:30 AM until 6:00 PM, and on Saturday from 10:30 AM until 4:00 PM. With seating for twelve people inside the shop, you should now be able to snag a seat for lunch if you want to eat in, or simply call ahead and place your order and they'll have it waiting for you when you arrive to pick it up.

The Montrose area is, for sure, a mecca of national fast food and casual chain sit-down restaurants. As such, these see a plethora of patrons who have no idea that for only a couple more dollars, a little store next to Laser Quest has some of the best soups, sandwiches, and salads the area has to offer. Just as with the conclusion in my last review, I would highly encourage you to stop by and check them out for yourself. You won't be sorry that you did.

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