The Black Kettle: More drinks than food


The green and black food truck, The Black Kettle, rests by the science bridge enticing students on their way in the direction of Meriam Library. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 29.

Low-hanging black drapes teasingly hide The Black Kettle food truck from downpours, bright rays and passersby on Chico State campus.

Peering inside the food truck while ordering gives a hectic but comfortable and warm vibe that makes you want to keep going back, despite the long wait times. A giant fridge containing more drinks than food easily takes up a fifth of the truck.

While the prices may be steep, they are fully worth the natural flavors trapped behind plastic and paper containers.

The Black Kettle’s pesto grilled cheese priced at $11. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 29.

On the more inexpensive side of the spectrum lies the pesto grilled cheese sandwich priced at $11. The sandwich is just as it sounds: melty, crispy-ended cheese spilling out of pesto-covered bread. The distinct pesto flavor cuts through the cheese adding a lasting echo over the palette.

While the sandwich itself is simplistic, it does remind me of my dad making basic grilled cheese when I was a kid. That sense of physical and emotional love was echoed in The Black Kettle’s grilled cheese. This memory trigger far outweighs the greasy aspects of the dish.

It probably would’ve tasted even better with the turkey that can be added for an extra $3. Or paired with the truck’s separate organic tomato soup dish priced at $5.

The Black Kettle’s pastrami melt sandwich priced at $15. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 29.

Another sandwich available for purchase is the pastrami melt, priced at $15. The pastrami, cheese, pickles and sauce filled sandwich is even greasier than the grilled cheese — a heart attack waiting to happen.

But the heart attack would be welcomed. The hearty sandwich does leave you thirsty due to the heightened salt content, but biting into it causes a cathartic spike. One that doesn’t lessen until the sandwich has disappeared, leaving you wanting more.

Unfortunately, the price spike could overpower that of the catharsis. This may be the sandwich you get to celebrate finishing that one dreaded final, because getting too many may tax your bank account.

Both sandwiches come with a side of of Hawaiian Brand gluten-free kettle-style potato chips that come in a variety of flavors.

The truck also provides salads for those who may be gluten intolerant: the salmon salad and the organic beet and goat cheese salad.

The Black Kettle’s organic beet and goat cheese salad priced at $15. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 29.

The latter features lettuce and spinach leaves covered in beet slices, chunks of goat cheese, pecans, onions, raw carrots, sunflower seeds and sauces, priced at $15.

The goat cheese casts a tangy net over the entire salad that is countered by the sweetness of the beets. Combined the two create a flavor powerhouse accompanied by the earthiness of the pecans and sunflower seeds.

The seeds easily slide beneath the lettuce and spinach leaves waiting to pop in a given bite. This combined with the soft crunch of the pecans.

The overly sweet and tart combination of the salad will leave you grasping for something to drink, something that The Black Kettle has in abundance.

The truck sells more drinks than food:

  • Chico Chai, priced at $5, add almond milk for an additional 50 cents
  • Kombucha, in many flavors, priced at $4
  • Canned Red Bull or Cold Brew coffee, priced at $3
  • Izze, in many flavors, priced at $2.50
  • Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and water, priced at $2
  • Sparkling water, in a variety of flavors, priced at $2
The Black Kettle’s salmon salad priced at $17. Taken by Ariana Powell, March 29.

The truck’s salmon salad, one of the two most expensive dishes priced at $17, is the perfect marriage of land and sea.

The lightly crisped salmon sits diagonally across the lettuce, spinach, carrots and onions, covered in sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.

As someone who doesn’t normally like salmon, this is a fantastic salmon dish. The fish itself is perfectly cooked and does not have an overpowering flavor. Instead its subtlety bows down to the sweet and slightly tart cranberries and acidic sauces.

Since the salmon is in filet form it is hard to get some in every bite, but that’s OK, not every bite needs it.

The earthy quality makes me think about the origins of each ingredient. The process of planting, growing and harvesting the lettuce, spinach, onions and carrots. The shelling of the seeds. The hopefully humane process of raising and-or catching of the salmon.

Though very pricey, I can’t help but crave this salad.

Both salads come with two slices of grilled bread that pairs nicely piled high with salad components.

The Black Kettle also sells a salmon sandwich priced at $15.

The Black Kettle is a family-run food truck and catering company based in Chico, according to their website. They open at Secret Trail Brewing every Thursday evening.

The truck is on campus Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].