Making a good grilled cheese sandwich is easy. Making a work-of-art grilled cheese sandwich is hard.
It’s not a stretch to say that Kendra Kolling (aka The Farmer’s Wife) makes one of the best sandwiches in the Bay Area. In fact, a San Francisco food writer called it exactly that. Years ago, Kolling won best sandwich at the Battle of the Brews’ ’Wich Hunt in Santa Rosa after blowing the competition out of the water — or at least off the plates with her melty, crusty, munchie, oozy delicious melts.
After 10 years of slinging her spectacular sammies at farmer’s markets and festivals throughout the region, Kolling has a brick-and-mortar space in Sebastopol. She’s pretty excited this outpost doesn’t have to be folded up at the end of the day. In fact she’s got a roof, a door and some swanky wallpaper, as well, in her matchbox-sized storefront at the Barlow.
Moving around like a top, Kendra is in perpetual motion around the grill. Her menu is slim, but everything on it is something she loves, and wants you to love, too. As she makes the sandwiches, Kendra is more than happy to tell you all the farmers and bakers she uses. Having spent a decade in farmer’s markets, she’s made a few friends.
On today’s menu, the lamb merguez sausage ($16), she says, is what I want. Made with fresh homemade chimichurri and a farm egg, I should definitely try it. There’s the signature three cheese “Fromage a Trois” ($8) or one with honey lavender bacon ($15). But I can’t resist the autumn fruit with local cheddars, Pt. Reyes Blue cheese and honey ($12). Served with a seasonal petite salad, they’re monstrously-large sandwiches that somehow disappear too quickly, leaving behind little more than a spray of crumbs and the scent of well-buttered bread.
You’ll want to add the seasonal soup ($4 to $8) for dipping. Tomato season was sighing its very last breath when I visited, so chances are you’ll get something different. But it will be good.
There are usually a few sweets under the glass cloches. They will also be good as well.
The only downside to the experience is that most of the seating is outdoors. In inclement weather, that can harsh your comfy, cozy grilled cheese vibe. Get it to go. Or stand at the counter. Or go when the sun is out. But go. Because it will be very, very good.
6780 Depot St., #110, Sebastopol (in the Barlow), 707-824-5600, thefarmerswifesonoma.com. Open from 11a.m. daily. Hours can vary, so calling ahead isn’t a terrible idea. Whatever you do, don’t check out her Instagram page, @thefarmerswifebarlow if you’re hungry.
Best thing I ate all year: Hundreds of meals, thousands of photos, a handful of the year’s most delicious dishes. Go to sonomamag.com/biteclub to see my favorite eats of 2018 in all their food porn glory.