Raisins in the Sun
By Matt Tapia
There are chicken salad sandwiches and there are chicken salad sandwiches. And the ones served up at Polly’s Pies in Norco must definitely be the result of some type of Area 51, chicken salad sandwich reverse-engineering—they are some of the most amazing from-scratch creations I’ve had in quite a while.
Make no mistake, if you’re going to plop down here at Polly’s to enjoy their sandwiches (or any of their other freshly prepared eats), there are a few kitschy things that you’re going to want to feel comfortable about. First: This place is yellow. Very yellow. Aunt Millie’s kitchen yellow. From the walls and tabletops, to the benches and trim. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. The upside, of course, is if this reminds you of sunny days and spring time and summers spent at Aunt Millie’s then—aw shucks—you’re gonna feel right at home. For me, I was cool with the hominess of the color scheme and I was able to derive more than enough solace from the fact that good home-style food sometimes comes at a price. In this case, a Pollyanna color palette and sense of decor. But I digress.
When you come to Polly’s, keep in mind words like “country kitchen” and “from scratch” cuz that’s what this place is all about. A bright, cheery dining area; gingham-type blue-checkered curtains; servers that’ll call you “sweetheart” and “hon” at the drop of a hat. But this place has a Facebook profile, so they’re not complete Luddites.
Food-wise, there’s all you’d expect: Soup and chili. Waffles and French toast. Omelets. Plenty of baked-on-the-premises baked goods.
But it’s sandwich time by my clock.
For the purposes of this review, I decided to try out something that wouldn’t be out of place at a Tom Sawyer picnic: the Old Fashioned Chicken Salad Sandwich. Someone call the time travel police cuz we need to send this wonderful meal to the future. “Old Fashioned” it may have been christened, but its taste is something only a modern man can gush about.
Instead of bland, lifeless chunks of chicken you see accompanying those sordid McDonald’s or Jack in the Box “salads” (yes, I use the term loosely), it’s all flame-roasted rotisserie chicken here, baby. Plus, for me, a good chicken salad sandwich’s got to have crunch. Enter the walnuts. And the celery. And the sweet onions. These culprits teamed up with the mayonnaise for a three-way of gastronomical proportions. Sorry, Aunt Millie, but these sandwiches are a lot better than the ones you served up at the Grandpappy’s backyard Flag Day party. So sorry.
But it’s all about packaging, right? And Polly’s doesn’t disappoint. Instead of opting for the tried-and-true or been-there-done-that wheat or “artisan” breads, the restaurant’s cooks go for broke by serving up their divine chicken salad on two slices of freshly baked (and toasted!) raisin walnut bread. It doesn’t get any better than this.
It was bread so good, you could have placed a Kraft single in between the slices and I still would have dove in and fought you for the crust. The bread—delicious.
And the French fries? Well, let’s just say that they were the tender kiss after the embrace. My lunch companion had what they call the Mega Grilled Cheese which was another name for a “cheese party” since it had Jack, Swiss, Cheddar and American having a melted blast on sourdough bread with Polly’s special garlic parmesan cheese bread. Excuse me, but this place just got better.
In the end, my meal was no mere lunch. In fact (and this is amazing—ask my wife), I couldn’t even finish my meal. I was stuffed to the gills.
I’m thinking that next time, I’ll sample one of Polly’s other sandwiches. Maybe the Classic Turkey Sandwich (oven-roasted turkey on sourdough). Or maybe the Avocado & Friends (avocado and sprouts on cracked wheat bread).
Until then, you’ll never see me at a Subway or Togo’s ever again.
Polly’s Pies Restaurant, 1799 Hamner Ave., Norco, (951) 520-0223; www.pollyspies.com. Mon-Thurs 6:30AM-10PM, Fri 6:30AM-11PM, Sat 7AM-11PM, Sun 7AM-10PM. AE, D, MC, V.