Say cheese!

Feb. 4, 2010, 9:12 p.m.

Say cheese!

The subject of this week’s food review is fairly well known among undergraduates, but we love it so much that we felt remiss going another week without mentioning it. Without it, our lives would be bleaker, our figures slimmer, and our interactions with Palo Alto High School students would be substantially fewer. That’s right, gentle readers, we’re talking about The Village Cheese House.

For the uninitiated, the Village Cheese House has been a Palo Alto institution since our parents were in diapers. Tucked away in a back corner of the nearby Town and Country, the Cheese House’s proximity to both Stanford and Palo Alto High School make for a large customer base of students who go with alarming frequency; although it’s small, the place definitely has a committed cult following. And while Katie became obsessed with the recently renovated Cheese House (whose employees now know her), Evie’s been going since her days at Castilleja School, when it was a windowless maze of disorganized aisles, strange foodstuffs and signs exclusively in Dutch that looked straight out of the ’70s.

While the Cheese House is a local tradition, you don’t become obsessed with restaurants for their rich heritage. What keep us coming back again and again (and again) are the sandwiches. Oh, the sandwiches. One of the best features of Cheese House sandwiches is the sheer abundance of choice. There’s no one-size-fits-all Cheese House sandwich, which makes writing a review for them somewhat difficult. Prices range from about $7 to $8 a sandwich, depending on the accoutrements you choose. The bottom line is, no matter your sandwich preferences, you’ll probably leave the Cheese House satisfied.

The roast beef is definitely one of the Cheese House’s best items. While roast beef is frequently dry and leathery, theirs is always freshly sliced and never overcooked – the kind of moist, flavorful roast beef that people crave before settling for the gross supermarket kind. But we also love the roast turkey. And Dutch crunch bread is without a doubt the way to go – it’s fluffy and light, with the perfect amount of crunch to the exterior. For those who find roll-type breads on sandwiches unwieldy, the whole wheat sliced bread is also excellent.

But by far the most incredible part of the Cheese House sandwich is the mysterious “spread.” While neither of us knows quite what they put in it, it’s some mixture of pickles, mayonnaise, mustard and maybe even cheese. The specific ingredients aren’t important, though. The resulting hodgepodge of a spread makes the sandwiches sinfully delicious; one of us has even been known to eat the Dutch crunch bread with only spread on it, but we’ll never tell you which one. Don’t think about its mysterious composition or the fact that it’s all going straight to your hips. Just embrace the spread, trust us.

In short, the Village Cheese House makes the best sandwiches around, hands down. Since the renovation, the atmosphere is a little bland. And mistakenly going during Paly High School lunch hour can bring back unfortunate memories of the acne, braces and marching band years – but we promise it’s worth it.

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