By Ben Mullin | Chicoer.com
CHICO — When I took this job, I never thought I’d be able to review any restaurant with the word “gourmet” in its name.
So far, I’ve been content to shuffle from one hole in the wall to another to fill my stomach with some of the greasiest eats in a city full of inexpensive food.
But not anymore. Last week, I went gourmet. Last week, I chased my food down.
Mayhem Gourmet Grilled Cheese is a new-ish food truck that makes its money parked on streets throughout Chico, hawking a staple of the 6-year-old’s diet to the 18-and-up crowd. The truck has five variations on your mom’s go-to snack, some of which are stuffed with frou-frou additions like jalapeno jelly and sun-dried tomato.
Sorry kids. No juice boxes here.
The other thing that distinguishes Mayhem from the third-grade lunch lady is that the owners open up shop on a new street every day, then post the location on Facebook for followers. This gimmick seems counterintuitive, until you realize that Mayhem’s business model is based on building an audience and interacting with customers every day.
All that aside, following your food to a different place is fun, a throwback to the hunter-gatherer days when people had to go out into the wilderness and chuck a spear at something.
Except instead of walking, you can conveniently look up the location and drive there. And instead of wildebeest, you can try dishes like “two-cheese with sun-dried tomato and pesto.”
Plus, when you to stand in line, you feel like you belong to a secret club populated exclusively by adults who never outgrew the urge to eat fried cheese and bread. These are my people.
When Quinn and I arrived at the posted location — a street behind WinCo — we found the Mayhem Grilled Cheese Truck. It was painted matte-black, with a busty woman straddling a World-War II-vintage bomb, complete with rivets. There were a handful of people milling around outside the service window, more then I’ve ever seen waiting outside a food truck.
When it came time to order, I’ll admit I felt a little silly paying $6 for a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and maple barbecue sauce. But that was before my order arrived. Covered in a shiny shell of crispy fried cheese and cut open to reveal a soft and flaky interior, the sandwich was a delicious and radical take on an entree I always burn on the stove five minutes before class. The sweet smokiness of the barbecue sauce melded perfectly with the equally smoky and slightly salty bacon bits and came with a free cup of tomato soup.
Listen up, Chico: This isn’t your mom’s grilled cheese.
Mayhem adds a dash of class and sophistication to the lunch I used to eat with a sippy cup and a bib. This is the perfect meal for a city full of kids working their way toward adulthood, or any blazer-wearing adult tired of pretending he doesn’t miss naptime.