Archive for April, 2011

@Soda Pop’s, in Eagle River

Greetings, grilled cheese friends. Here we are, on this, the very last day of Grilled Cheese Month. I offer you this humble and belated review in exchange for your forgiveness – for what has surely been a gross mishandling of comfort food’s finest holiday. I have paid proper homage to neither GC day or GC month, and you deserve much, much better, dear readers. Both of you. 

“2010 winner of the Grilled Wisconsin Cheese Recipe contest. Wisconsin Sarvecchio Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese: wheat bread with pesto, Wisconsin Swiss & Cheddar, sliced roma tomato, then finished with winning Wisconsin Parmesan cheese grilled on the outside.”

Behold, the winning submission in the grilled cheese contest held in Eagle River this past August. Soda Pop’s boasts being one of the oldest operating soda fountains in Wisconsin. Perhaps more noteworthy, though, is their adjacent retail space, offering 150+ varieties of old-timey bottled soda. (Probably one of the few places in the midwest one can still actually peruse these gems in person.) We wandered in at 2:00 on a saturday, eight of us. They were reasonably busy, so we split ouselves in two groups. Still. There. Was. Waiting. Although the boy who waited on us was earnestly apologetic about his own service – it was hilariously clear that he wasn’t holding himself accountable for it. After all, he couldn’t possibly be expected to provide adequate service under these conditions. (I mean, have you SEEN all these people??)

If you’ve read any of my past reviews, you may have picked up on the fact that I’m not all that keen on tomatoes. Despite my aversion, I’ve been trying to make a sincere effort to order more items “as-is.” (As much to broaden my own horizons, as to support the “integrity” of the process. Frankly, if you removed the word ‘without’ from my vocabulary, I would sometimes be hard-pressed to order a meal.) Perhaps predictably, both juicy slices still landed right back into the bottom of the basket after only one bite. Just couldn’t do it. Sadly, even after that wrong was righted, it still didn’t come together for me. The parmesan crust offered a promising texture that unfortunately, the rest of the sandwich just didn’t deliver on. Neither slice of cheese was melted, and the pesto that I was so optimistic about left much to be desired. Ultimately, I just have to believe something was lost in translation here. If this sandwich truly did justice to the original, it must have been one hell of a contest. After our meal, a thirty minute wait for our bills ensued, during which we joked that after they were paid, we could just ask for the menus back and order dinner. I gave it a 5/10, and a “Meh.”  I will be back for the soda.  ($5.95)

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@The Flour Sack, in Eagle River

“Unbelievable Raspberry Grilled Cheese: Two slices of sourdough bread with seedless red raspberry preserves, swiss cheese, onion, and pecans.”

I found this little oddity while conducting a google search to drum up some blog prospects in Eagle River. Among the usual fluff, a review popped up on Trip Advisor, using some words not typically befitting of a grilled cheese sandwich description. Taking into account my not caring much for jellies or preserves of any sort, and that I generally find nuts to be disruptive – I cannot account for my inexplicable optimism about eating this. (I probably found the eccentricity a little refreshing after the long run of boring grilled cheeses I’ve eaten lately.) Regardless of the reason, I found both the sandwich and the cafe pretty charming. Mind you, the sandwich was as dainty as the soup & sandwich plate it arrived on, most of the raspberry filling was smack dab in the center, and “unbelievable” is a probably a stretch. That said, the big slab of swiss was exactly right, the nuts didn’t really bother me all that much, and diced onions made brilliant sense. After a lot of back and forth, I ultimately forgave its size and inconsistency and gave it a seven. (I’m a sucker for cute dishes, it’s a sickness.)  

($6.95)

@National Coney Island, in Detroit

I had an hour and forty minutes on the ground in the Detroit airport, and managed to rustle up a grilled cheese in the McNamara Terminal. I had never heard of National Coney Island before, but a quick google revealed that they have 20 locations throughout Michigan. (Something about this seems less than “National” to me, but apparently no one’s policing this.) I was pretty hungry, so it kind of hit the spot. Truthfully though, it offers nothing special. It had a nice crunch on it, but whatever they grilled it with wasn’t all that tasty.  I gave it a 5, and as my mom is apt to say, “Well, I would eat it if I was starving…”   5/10

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