Steppin’ Out – Two Cooks on Main

Remember the little hot dog place in downtown Placerville that changed hands a couple of times – the one right across the street from Robinson’s Pharmacy at 374 Main Street? Well, now it is called Two Cooks on Main and is serving up some great sandwiches and salads.

The “Two Cooks” and owners of the restaurant are Nina Van Sickle and Paula Flint, both familiar faces on Main Street. They both have extensive culinary experience and you probably know Van Sickle from Nina’s Courtyard Café and Flint from Feast of Dreams, the catering company that was one of the last businesses in the historic Herrick Building, which is now undergoing a complete restoration. According to Flint, “We know our way around a skillet and baking pan and are comfortable in a kitchen.”

The two have known each other for 20 plus years and opened Two Cooks on Main after researching “who is doing what” on Main Street and what the market would bear.

“Business in town is picking up,” said Flint, “and when this place, all 340 square feet of it, became available we took it.”

The day I dropped in Flint was doing the cooking and their friend Teresa Saker was taking care of the customers.

“So, what would you like to try?” said Flint. “I can make you some samples of a few of the favorite things, if you like.” I told her that was perfect and while she was putting together a sample of Chinese Chicken Salad, half a Cranberry Turkey sandwich and a small Roast Beef, Blue Cheese and Roasted Garlic Cloves sandwich we chatted.

“Since we opened we have discovered that everyone who worked on Main Street in the ‘90s, is still here,” said Flint. “It’s always old home week. Every day people we haven’t seen in quite a while come by, stick their head in the door and yell ‘Hello.’ I lot of them also remember Nina from her Courtyard Café days and ask if she is here.”

As she handed me my plate she said, “The Chinese chicken salad is a special recipe Nina got from her mother, so we call it Nancy’s Chinese chicken salad.

“For the cranberry turkey sandwich, we cook our own turkey and slice it. We also make the cranberry sauce and put it on squaw bread. It is one of the very favorite sandwiches.

“Right behind it in popularity is the roast beef sandwich I made you. We use rolls from the Sacramento Baking Co. because they are like ciabatta rolls, but more tender.

“The first two are so popular we once thought about being like one of those small New York restaurants with only the Chinese chicken salad and the cranberry turkey sandwich on the menu,” Flint added with a smile.

The Chinese chicken salad, made with roasted chicken, diced cabbage, scallions, noodles, almonds and sesame seeds in a seasoned rice wine vinegar dressing was the best of that kind of salad I have tried. I like cabbage in salad and it added a bit of crunch to go with all the flavors. The roast beef sandwich was excellent and the blue cheese, and especially the roll, really made it better.

The cranberry turkey sandwich was absolutely delicious. The homemade cranberry sauce was not overly sweet and gave the sandwich a slight crunch to go with the great flavor which was added to by the squaw bread.

While I was there, which was about an hour, 80-90 percent of the sandwiches ordered were the cranberry turkey. One lady who arrived in town on a tour bus with a group from southern California looked at the menu for just a few seconds and said, “I’ll take one of those. It looks delicious.”

“Our menu is mostly things we have done before,” continued Flint. “A lot of them are old favorites from the Courtyard Café.”

The menu includes seven “Scrumptious Salads, all served with a sliced baguette. Those include the Chinese chicken salad, a house salad, Half and Half (of those two), a classic Caesar, a Mandarin spinach salad, a Mediterranean salad, and the Two Cooks chef salad.

Signature sandwiches, all served with chips and a fruit garnish, include, in addition to the ones I already mentioned, the Olivida, Feta with Basil Pesto, Dilled Albacore salad, Two Cooks Vegie and Roast Beef and Tomato Chutney (I tried sample of the chutney. It was excellent).

There are also what they call Simpler Sandwiches, which include: Turkey, Ham or Beef and freshly made Egg Salad (you don’t find that many places). These sandwiches are available whole or half, or half with salad or soup (come Fall and Winter).  They also have kids sandwiches that come with a surprise.

To drink they have soda, water and freshly brewed iced tea.

For dessert or a snack they have freshly baked cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and Snickerdoodle) along with several kinds of freshly baked muffins.

Coming soon (they’re shooting for October 1), breakfast items: quiche, scrambles, skillets and the like.

Their hours are Monday through Friday, 10 until 3 and on Saturday and Sunday, 11-3. For more information call 530-626-6546.

Two-thirds of this business is to go, but there are  a few tables inside and out, so it is a great place to sit and people watch.

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