Where: The Main Ingredient Ale House & Cafe
When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Dish: Charli 2na
Price: $12.32 (including tax and tip)
The Setting: The Main Ingredient Ale House & Cafe offers the same house-turned-restaurant vibe you'll find at many other spots in the Coronado neighborhood and the result is cozy and inviting. The outdoor patio is spacious and casual. On our visit, we enjoyed our meal on the spacious, casual patio — where, between the Lily Allen on the radio and our great food, we hardly noticed the cars speeding past on nearby Seventh Street.
The Dish: The Charli 2na sandwich, made with havarti cheese, local tomato, and red onion on sourdough bread is a delicious spin on a classic tuna melt. The "special" tuna salad includes black olives and hard-boiled egg, both kept in fairly large chunks. The egg brings a refreshing texture and mild flavor to the tuna salad, and the olives bring a salty, pungent flavor to the mix. Overall, the beauty of the Charli 2na is that no fancy punches are pulled— it really lets the tuna shine. That said, the supporting players in this sandwich are almost as important as the tuna itself. The bread is light and crunchy, and while grilled, seems devoid of grease. The toasted edges with crispy cheese are delightful, and the meshing of the fresh tomato with the cheese and mayo provides a comforting and familiar flavor profile (see: grilled cheese and tomato soup or vodka cream sauce).
The Best Part: The Charli 2na works so well as an ensemble dish — the slightly crunchy bread and the soft tuna salad are texturally perfect . Adding olive and egg while keeping everything else relatively simple makes for a satisfying, barely elevated take on a much-loved classic.
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The One Thing We'd Change: The kettle chips served on the side were fine but nothing special. Next time, we'll go healthy and get the side of field greens instead.