A Sandwich a Day: Willie Brown Bird at Cheese Plus in San Francisco

A Sandwich a Day

A different sandwich profiled every single day.

In this great country of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

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One visit and I was hooked on Cheese Plus. This little store in Russian Hill has a quality cheese selection and a staff of friendly, knowledgeable cheesemongers. Best of all, Cheese Plus is never packed like Cowgirl Creamery, so you can stand there all day trying cheeses without feeling a tourist's hot breath steaming down your neck.

It did take me a while to try a sandwich, not because they didn't sound amazing (I mean, with the cheese counter so close, and a Grilled Cheese of the Day, how can you go wrong?), but because I was already spending way, way too much money on cheese.

The day I caved and bought a sandwich was a good day. The Willie Brown Bird ($9) starts with a spread of Scottish fig chutney topped with slices of smoked duck breast. The duck is delicious—tender with a slightly gamy, smoky flavor on top of its natural sweetness. The fig chutney is powerful, with a spicy-sweetness that comes from the ginger hiding in the spread.

At first I was afraid the rich, almost plummy flavors of the duck and fig would make the sandwich overly sweet, but a second bite—where I could taste all the elements—proved that this sandwich is all about a sweet-sour balance.

What exactly balances out the sweet? Six thin slices of provolone cheese, which have a mild tang. Also pickled onions, which provide acid and a thick layer of arugula, adding peppery bitterness. As a final nod to the indulgence of a duck breast sandwich, there's a layer of butter on one side of the Dutch Crunch roll. A smear of butter is that je ne sais quoi that makes Parisian sandwiches so amazing, and it works its magic here. The overall effect is a deliciously decadent sandwich, and one that's worth forgoing some cheese for.

Cheese Plus

2001 Polk Street, San Francisco CA 94109 (map) 415-921-2001; cheeseplus.com