Posts tagged ‘6’

@ The Mark Dine & Tap, in South Bend


I’m not sure where I thought the University of Notre Dame was, but I didn’t know it was two blocks away from the final grilled cheese (#9) of our adventure, or the last place I would ever eat brie on purpose.


“Not your everyday grilled cheese: Bacon, caramelized onion, brie, cheddar bread.”

You’re probably wondering why I would do this to myself again, and I don’t actually remember. I can only assume it met my search criteria – something like: Indiana, close to an I-80 off ramp. At any rate, it was a horrible mistake, and I knew as soon as it arrived. There was brie rind poking out of it, the onions looked like kraut, and it was already triggering fight or flight impulses in my brain. I took a bite, because I had to, and just held it in my mouth.


I filled my mouth with cola, and swallowed hard. My eyes were watering. Whhhhhhhhew.

My husband hadn’t noticed my distress, but he also hadn’t ordered anything, so by now he’s just looking at me, expectantly. (“Well?”) Shit now what?! Sending it back would be humiliating, (“SIR there is mold on this cheese!”) and asking for the check and abandoning it would be worse. (“We thought one of us was hungry, but turns out, we’re not.”) I decided I’d take a crust bite while I weighed my exit strategies. But, my mind (and esophagus) had already begun shutdown sequence. Tiny heaves were happening, and he was watching me now. “You need me to eat that, don’t you.”

So, my selfless husband ate the Brie. (“It was okay.”) And I was never so happy to eat chips, and flounce out into the sunshine like I’d cheated death.

After my ordeal, rating the experience was tricky, since I can’t just give bad ratings to sandwiches made with ingredients I don’t like, and ate on purpose. Upon careful reflection, I pardoned it with (an awfully gracious) 6/10, just to show that there are no hard feelings. Which, of course there are, because I almost fucking died back there.

@ Chedd’s, in Eau Claire

I had every intention of getting to this place, even when “this place” was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Fortunately, the universe packed them up, dropped them in Eau Claire and saved me all the trouble of a seven hour drive. (Then they promptly closed.)

“Coffee House: Smoked Gouda, Turkey, Bacon, and Pesto on Multi-grain.”

This sandwich should have been a winner. Brilliantly written, but poorly executed. It was a delicious medley of ingredients that was ruined by laziness or inexperience. or both. As you can see, it has all the tell-tale signs of having been cooked too quickly: burned bread, hard cheese, and no adhesion. Goddamn what a bummer.

@ Big Pecker’s, in Ocean City


Stay classy, Ocean City.  (If you’ve never been, and have some Axe body spray you can put it in your mouth, it’s a little bit like that.) Our arrival was met with a dousing of liquid sunshine that went on for 72 straight hours.  If we’re keeping score, it actually rained every single day in each of the 7 states we visited. It’s probably also pertinent to mention here that I was four months pregnant on this trip – although apparently the meal you see below is some kind of “give away.”

You must be pregnant.


“Grilled Cheese: Your choice of cheese, your choice of bread.”

I opted for American on white, and the results were adequate. The bread was unnecessarily saturated with whatever oily nonsense they grilled it with, but it was just distracting enough that I could pretend for a moment that my girly drink was legit. I was trolleyed right out of the land of make believe when a delightful woman at the bar broadcasted that “Only a pregnant girl would order a non-alcoholic daiquiri and a grilled cheese!” Despite my impulse to challenge her, I’ve come to understand that having the palate of a toddler should embarrass me legitimately, and probably not something I should continue to volunteer. I kept quiet, and I gave it a 6. ($5.99)

@ Steak ‘n Shake in Elkhart

Greetings, my cheese loving friends. Every year, Grilled Cheese Month somehow manages to reenergize me (i.e., fill me with guilt) and get me off my lazy, neglectful posterior. I hope this post finds you well, and appropriately celebrating comfort food’s finest holiday. I spent this past weekend in Madison, (swilling wine, abusing my credit card) and returned home with 5 lbs cheese in tow – including a 2 lb loaf of Tillamook Vintage White that I scored on my maiden voyage to a Costco. (YES, the very same cheese I forgot in a Portland refrigerator in 2010.)

The below begins a road trip I took out east in September of 2011. (I know, SHAME.) I convinced my husband that the largest VW show in the US would be much more fun than a drive west to see state parks, purely because the grilled cheese prospects west of WI looked positively dismal. This is the first (of nine) I ate on that trip.

I enjoyed the above (Grilled Cheese + Bacon) in Elkhart, Indiana – day 1 of our trip. I’ve only been to a Steak ‘n Shake once before, but have always thought of it as fast food. It’s not. This wouldn’t have been that important, except that we were trying to catch up to a rally, and needed to make it to Pittsburgh(ish) by nightfall. They weren’t busy, but we managed to escape the wait staff’s radar for a full 15 minutes. When she discovered she’d neglected us, she was loudly, wildly (and embarrassingly) apologetic. From here, things moved quickly.

The sandwich was good. The American cheese was melted and sufficient, bacon was decent, and it had a good crunch on it. I also noted that it was appropriately sized for an adult – not a kids menu item serving dual duty. I awarded it a satisfactory 6/10. The free milkshakes and cookies we were forced to take with us weren’t bad parting gifts, either. ($4.48)

@ Ella’s Kosher Deli, in Madison

This was my first stop on a recent trip to Madison. I’ve been here a number of times over the years, but not in any official, grilled cheese capacity. As one look around this place will tell you, nobody actually comes here for the food. The plethora of animatronic whirligigs and other creepy circusry make this a destination for children and tweakers alike. Their menu is literally 20 pages long, and they boast a number of (I guess?) Jewish favorites. (I.e. Matzo, kugel, tongue sandwich?) Interestingly, internet sources confirm that despite what their name might suggest, they are in fact, not Kosher.

But, they have a big fiberglass banana. So…who cares. 

“Grilled Cheese w/American:” Pretty standard stuff. It was small, but it was pretty alright. (The pickle was skunky.) Curiously, the sandwich itself occupied only about 1/5 of the plate it arrived on. That aside, it was sufficiently crunchy, buttered, and melted – and was a nice light start to what promised to be a small marathon of grilled cheese consumption that day. Actually, I get the feeling they might make a lot of these. I gave it a 6/10, and we escaped without seizure. ($5.10)

@ Ja Mar’s, in Wausau

“Grilled Cheese: American on white.” Most bar-restaurants in Wisconsin serve only their “abbreviated” menus on friday nights … so typically, if you want something other than a fish fry, you’d best be under twelve. Thankfully, here was a classic little grilled cheese in its unabbreviated glory. (Well, maybe glory is too stong a word.) It was a little on the dainty side, (bread was pretty thin) but what it lacked in stature, it made for in correctness. Almost made me feel like a kid again. A beer drinking kid, eating dinner in a bar. 

6/10 ($4.99)

@ The Filling Station: Take Two.

The “Deluxe Grilled Cheese w/Bacon:  Our own thick bread grilled with bacon and three slices of american cheese.” You can’t tell from this angle, but this bread is THICK. Like, encyclopedia thick. (I’m not complaining.) Once again served on multigrain – but this time a dense and chewy multigrain. The cheese and bacon were ample, appropriately proportioned to the mass of bread. I would have preferred to see the american paired with something else, like a swiss, sharp cheddar or a muenster….but it was good. Once again, I took to dunking it in their yummy chicken dumpling soup. Only this time, it wasn’t to help choke the sandwich down. I gave it a 6/10, and would have it again. ($4.74)


@ The Grilled Cheese Grill, in Portland

“The Jalapeno Popper:” Roasted jalapenos, colby, cream cheese, and corn chips on sourdough. This wouldn’t normally be something that would jump off a menu for me – but as I was doing my research, it kept coming up, again and again. I was a little apprehensive about the cream cheese, only because historically, I’ve never really been a fan of hot cream cheese. (i.e. crab rangoons.) However, being that it was such a staple, I felt I had an obligation. It wasn’t bad. I admit, I immediately loved the corn chips. Same as with the “Gabby,” the bread was good and grilling was just right. I really wanted to love it, but ultimately found it to be a little dry. To be fair, I did say “easy on the cream cheese” when I ordered, so that may have been my own doing. Regardless, it definitely needed another cheese to hold it together, probably a processed one. I also probably could have done with less jalapenos, but that’s just personal preference. (My accomplice notes: they [the jalepenos] were making my face “all blotchy.”) In the end, I gave it 6/10….which I admit is a little unfair, as it clearly just wasn’t my thing. It got me to thinking, though: there is serious potential here. Grilled Cheese Grill, if you’re reading this, hear me out: “It’s Nacho Grilled Cheese” sandwich: sharp cheddar, fritos, diced jalepenos, and american / velveeta on artisan bread. Maybe with salsa served on this side. It could be epic. Just sayin. ($5)


%d bloggers like this: