How incredible are the sandwiches at Troubadour in downtown Healdsburg? After I scarfed down an entire one in no time flat, I actually contemplated getting another. Yes, that’s how amazing they are.
The sando shop, which opened earlier this year, can’t be missed, not with its adorable sign that’s like a toad in the hole, except this is a slice of bread with a “T” stamped in its center.
A great sandwich has to start with fabulous, fresh-baked bread, and Troubadour has no shortage of that, thanks to the fact that it’s owned by the same folks behind Quail & Condor bakery on the edge of Healdsburg.
Both establishments are the brainchild of couple, Melissa Kane and Sean McGaughey, who both worked at Michelin three-starred SingleThread in Healdsburg. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about the quality you’re in for, too.
The small shop’s menu is printed on rolls of butcher paper hung on the walls. There are about five classic sandwiches, as well as daily special ones, along with a few sides and desserts.
There are seats inside, as well as outside. Plus, there are bench seats with tables on various corners around town, including one right outside SingleThread, which is where we parked ourselves on a sunny afternoon to enjoy our to-go fare.
From the regular selections, my husband, aka Meat Boy, zeroed in on the “Italian” ($17), with layers of mortadella, Journeyman Meat Co.’s salami, peppery arugula, spicy-piquant bomba sauce, and a drizzle of oil and vinegar, all bookended by substantial slices of hearty Quail & Condor Siciliano loaf. It satisfies like an East Coast hoagie, but gets the full California treatment with local ingredients, and bread good enough to stand on its own.
I went with one of the specials, a Dungeness crab sandwich ($23) on more of that same wonderful bread. I know what you’re thinking — $23 for a sandwich?!? But let me tell you: What a sandwich this was! First of all, let’s not forget how pricey Dungeness crab is to begin with. And this sandwich had a good amount of that fluffy, sweet, picked crab meat enfolded with bright-tasting Meyer lemon aioli. Arrayed on top was a stack of pencil-thin spears of asparagus. Few things epitomize spring like crab paired with asparagus. And this simply was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.
At first, we weren’t going to get any dessert, since we planned on going to the actual Quail & Condor bakery on our way out of town. But after learning that the outrageous looking whoopie pie ($6) was only available at Troubadour, we had to grab one.
Good thing we did, because it is truly something to behold — and to hold, because it’s the size of a small burger. Two cakey-soft, thick cookies with a bold coffee taste get smeared with a generous fluff of peanut butter buttercream, then stacked together like a sandwich with the edges rolled in crunchy corn flakes. If you’ve always loved the classic combo of chocolate and peanut butter, wait until you taste that of coffee and peanut butter. It might even be better, what with the coffee’s bitter edge more pronounced than that of chocolate, and thus bringing out the nutty taste of the peanut butter even more.
Pro Tip: If you want to bring some of that very fine bread home — along with an assortment of fantastic pastries, do stop in at Quail & Condor, too. The epi baguette ($8) has a full-grain taste and is festooned with sesame seeds.
The plump croissant ($4) is made with sourdough culture for added flavor and laminated with French butter, amping up a richness you can definitely taste. The kouign-amann ($4) is made from that same croissant dough, and done up in a serpentine shape with salted sugar. It’s got loads of crispy edges, and a soft caramelized sugar center. The distinctive chocolate-tahini croissant ($5) is filled with dark chocolate and a smear of tahini ganache. You definitely taste the chocolate, with the sesame paste adding a surprise nuttiness.
The chocolate chip cookie ($4) is as big as my entire hand. It has that perfect texture of crisp on the edges and chewy in the center, along with an almost toffee-like undertone, likely from brown sugar.
The buttermilk drop biscuits ($4) boast crunchy edges all over plus a tender, fluffy interior. Studded with caramelized torpedo onions and blended with Parmesan, they would be a perfect companion to your favorite bowl of tomato soup.
From the moment Dishdash opened its doors in downtown Sunnyvale in 2001, it was an immediate hit with its lusty Middle Eastern fare, including dishes not often seen elsewhere in the Bay Area.
It’s now grown to seven locations, including the more casual Dish N Dash spinoffs, which let you customize bowls and wraps, and offer up a slew of smoothies.
The original restaurant still offers the most variety. Order online, and pick it up yourself, but just know that parking can be challenging there, especially since Murphy Avenue remains closed for outdoor dining.
Start with the maza sampler ($19 to serve two), which would make a very fine meal for one all unto itself. What you get is an assortment of creamy hummus, smoky babaghanouge, parsley-and-tomato inflected tabouli, khyar b’laban (a yogurt dip with cucumber, garlic and dill), m’nazaleh (expertly smoked and meltingly soft eggplant chunks with roasted bell peppers, and toasted walnuts in a sweet-tangy pomegranate molasses, two fluffy and herby falafel balls, and plenty of toasted pita.
Tear off a slab of pita, and dip away to your stomach’s content. Little containers of olive oil-oregano vinaigrette and creamy garlic sauce, plus two kinds of hot sauce (red and green) are included. There are also olives, pickled beet slices, and roasted garlic cloves scattered about the plate — a thoughtful touch that adds even more texture and tastes to play with.
For entrees, the tabsi ($35) is a big lamb shank braised with eggplant, onions, tomatoes, peppers and garlic in a mild curry sauce with the zing of dried lime. The meat is so tender, all you need is a fork to get at it. It comes with your choice of basmati rice or freekeh. The rice is fluffy with toasted almond slices. The freekeh is delightfully chewy and nutty tasting.
The combo kebab ($35) includes very tender pieces of grilled chicken; juicy meatball-like kufta made with a blend of chopped lamb and beef (my favorite), and pieces of flavorful lamb. It also comes with Brussels sprouts, and your choice of rice or freekeh.
As you can tell, the entrees are quite generously sized. So much so that we easily had enough for two lunches the next day.
Pro Tip: Dishdash doesn’t offer any desserts on its to-go menu. However, the mango yogurt laban ($4.75) makes for a nice little sweet treat to finish. The thick, creamy drink is a little tangy, a little sweet, and will surely reset the palate if you’ve overdone it on the chili sauces.