January 12, 4:27 PM (PT)
By The Salmon
State & Arrellaga
Santa Barbara, CA
“We’re not gonna pay for the beer,” said the manager. “Or the fabric softener. Or the firewood. Just the sandwiches.” With that went my hopes of using the twenty dollar Edhat per diem to stock the pantry for the coming week. It did, however, highlight the benefits of dining at this glorified convenience store – one stop shopping during your lunch break.
Cantwell’s Market burned down a few years ago, then apparently hired the same contractor responsible for the bang-up job over at the Presidio and promptly reopened two years later. Although essentially the same hybrid of Pierre Lafond meets Circle K that was there before, they did add what I can only assume is a “Grease-Fire Premium” of about $2.00 to their sandwiches. The replica-taxidermy Boar’s Head brand logo betrays any claim that the sandwhichistas behind the counter are using some sort of Gucci meats to justify the $7.00 cost.
The few brain cells I have left that actually recall being born on the outskirts of Queens encouraged me to try the “New Yorker” pastrami sandwich. My lunch accomplice, known locally as “The Manta,” opted for the grilled Tri-Tip on a Dutch Crunch roll.
The spatial confines of the counter area encouraged us to roam the aisles aimlessly, listening to a Wilson-Phillips song that would lodge itself in my head for days to come.
We did four laps around the store, discovering that the most impressive selection by far was the novelty-size beer. This category constitutes ales packaged in anything other than a 12-ounce can or bottle. I selected a 16-ounce Grolsch pop-top from Holland while the Manta speared a 22-ounce Pyramid just off the boat from Seattle.
Our names (a pseudonym, of course) were called and we then entered the arduous and formidable negotiations with management over what was covered by the official contest rules. The Manta bought the beers, asked for the checkout girl’s phone number, and we entered the common dining area after holding up the line for a good five minutes.
But our dissapointment had only just begun. Apparently, while anyone with a valid ID or a good Epson printer can purchase beer, you can not consume it on the premises, the same kind of torture one endures in the bikini strip clubs of Oxnard, I’m told.
Our chosen date of review coincided with Monday’s Old Testament-style flooding leaving us with another holy mess: seating. With only eight booths inside, each apparently borrowed from a now-defunct Hardee’s, we had the choice of eating in the rain or in the car. We opted for the later, until journalistic integrity and an open table persuaded us to bring our half-eaten meal inside.
The sandwiches did what they were supposed to, although remained rather quiet when it came to justifying the high price. Selecting a side dish is no different than at Albertsons, just cruise around and grab a bag. I will say that the urban-conflict parking lot, mini-flower stand, convenient Laundromat and wide variety of red-eye eliminating products make it ideal for the temp who eats at his desk, but unless I was in a thirty yard radius, I wouldn’t go out of my way.
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