Hell of a sandwich | Rock Candy

Hell of a sandwich

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DESERVING OF THE NAME:  Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Sisters
  • Kat Robinson
  • DESERVING OF THE NAME: Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Sisters
As many of you who follow me on Facebook and whereall else know, I spent three days in the Fort Smith area last week. But before I got down to brass tacks in the big city, I squandered an early afternoon across the river in downtown Van Buren. It’s a gorgeous Main Street with so many eclectic little shops and restaurants and bookstores — one of which I could become lost in for hours if I had the time. I mean, I tell folks I eat books, and that’s not far from the truth — it’s just the consumption is all in my head instead of my gut. But I digress.

I was tempted by many favorable scents, but I had to stop at the little yellow-painted storefront near the top of the hill for a bite to eat, a friendly place called Sisters Goumet Bistro. The moment I walked in the host kindly asked me if I wanted a margarita. It was 1 p.m. I deferred.

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  • Kat Robinson
I was seated at a little round table towards the back of the restaurant and given a menu. There was just so much. I actually first grasped onto the idea of the Blueberry Salad ($8.99) — thinking the combination of fresh blueberries, chicken breast and walnuts sounded so refreshing, until I noticed the bacon. The Swiss Chicken ($9.99) was also tempting, listed as being chicken breasts with herb stuffing smothered with cream sauce and drizzled with butter. Sounded fantastic… but honestly? It was warm and I’d been walking and taking photographs. I just wanted something filling enough to satisfy yet light enough to work through over the course of the afternoon.

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  • Kat Robinson
Then my eye fell on the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($6.99). Well, that was a heck of a claim. I asked my waitress about it, and she admitted to me she’d never tried it because she wasn’t comfortable with very spicy things. I checked the menu — indeed, it was a cheese sandwich on jalapeno bread. I grinned at her and promised I’d let her know how it came out.

While I was waiting, the host came by and struck up a conversation. He mentioned something about Sisters being a small concert venue, and I mentioned that my pal Robb did that sort of thing. Turns out Some Guy Named Robb was indeed playing Sisters that weekend. I made a mental note to pass along what I thought of the food.

We were just chatting away when my order came up. The sandwich came on a plate with a bag of plain Lays potato chips. I pulled out my camera and took some shots.

Mind you, that was no easy task. It smelled damn good. The bread looked crusty and crunchy and the cheese just goo’ed out across where it had been cut on the diagonal. I must admit, I took far fewer shots than I usually take. I had to have at that sandwich.

THE GOODS:  Sandwich and chips
  • Kat Robinson
  • THE GOODS: Sandwich and chips
And… oh, my. The jalapeno bread wasn’t all that spicy. I suppose the cooking process (cooked twice, of course, once when the bread was baked and once when it was grilled) had taken the heat right out of it. But it had left this lovely Southwest flavor with a hint of smokiness. The cheese hung onto each bite, warm and comforting, a nice mix of mozzarella and pepper jack and Cheddar and Swiss. It was savory, a little salty and a lot yummy. I mean, I’m a huge cheese fan. This was so feeding my addiction.

But the real genius in the sandwich was the preparation. Not content to just grill some bread, at Sisters the assembled sandwich is dipped in Parmesan before it’s grilled. This gives the entire exterior a nice sharp flavor and crispy crust that just adds this delicious weight to every bite. It is by far the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever had, and that’s saying something, considering how many grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve sampled across the nation.

I didn’t even touch the chips, just slipped them into my bag before I left. I was thankful for my waitress who kept coming by to refill my tea. She asked about the sandwich, and I told her she absolutely had to give it a shot. Not spicy, not spicy at all, but damn good.

On the way out I glanced down at the pastries under the counter. They looked so awesome. I just knew, though, that if I even acquiesced to a simple taste, I’d never make it to Joe’s for my dinner with friends. Yeah, just another spot I have to revisit.

You’ll find Sisters Gourmet Bistro on Main Street in Historic Downtown Van Buren, about a half block down the west side of the street from the depot. They have a liquor license (hence the offer of a margarita) and the membership is free. They‘re open for breakfast and lunch every day, and for dinner every day except Sunday. (479) 474-4949.

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