Posts tagged ‘9’

@Melt Bar & Grilled, in Cleveland


This is it, kids – the mothership had called me home. We arrived in Cleveland around 4 o’clock, perfectly avoiding that dreadful dinner rush that Yelp warned about. Upon entering, we are welcomed by the glowing embrace of holiday blow molds. Smiling, crazy, “WE ARE HAPPY TO SEE YOU.”


The menu is paralyzing. The agony of facing descriptions and photos of the 24 other sandwiches I couldn’t eat was lessened by the weeks of research that had gone into my selection(s.) I say selections, plural, as my husband had graciously deferred to my expertise, and allowed me to order for him. I felt like a husband from the 1950s.

For those of you unfamiliar with Melt, they’ve been building absurdly proportioned grilled cheese sandwiches (and only grilled cheese sandwiches) since 2006. No ingredient seems to be off limits.

Grilled cheese purists, avert your eyes.


“The Dude Abides:”Homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella wedges, basil marinara, roasted garlic, provolone & romano.”

This sandwich posed logistical challenges. While I can appreciate the wow-factor of baseball-sized meat, it’s just not practical. I mean, sure, they’re nice to look at – but I just couldn’t. Once I figured out how to conquer it, however, it proved to be a bit of a comfort food masterpiece. It was good – the sauce, the salt, the crunch, the dusting of Parmesan on garlic crusted bread, and the mountain of fries. So much cheese. It all checked out.

Mind you, I could only finish half. See, I know the gimmick of huge portions is that it’s supposed to make you feel all smug and satisfied when it arrives – but am I the only one who experiences a let-down while you’re all glassy-eyed, staring at what’s left? Isn’t it really just a racket to get people to buy two dinners, and then grin at each other like idiots while taking pictures of it? The answer is yes, of course – which is doubly cruel in this case, because everyone knows that leftover grilled cheese and fries are effing useless.

Despite those harsh realities, this was triumph. I was full and smug, had checked Melt off my grilled cheese bucket list, and put my first pin in the great state of Ohio. Nothing left now but to buy all the merch, and give it a 9/10. ($15)

@ Grilled Cheese & Co, in Sykesville

Grilled Cheese & Co

We began day 2 of our trip bright and early, hurling down the highway towards the coast with eighty other rumbling german imports. The rally had a number of planned stops before we reached Ocean City, so I figured skipping one of those would easily afford me this (teeny) little 7 mile deviation off highway 70, right?

Grilled Cheese & Co 3

“The Fresco: Fresh mozzarella & provolone cheese, fire roasted red peppers, basil pesto and a balsamic glaze:

We lost the rally. A little bit. BUT LOOK AT IT. It’s hemorrhaging all things good, right there in my lap. Finally, 967 miles from home, a sandwich with enough heft and hot cheese to make my home state proud. If all that weren’t enough, (and it is, btw) they slathered the whole thing in peppers and pesto. Both tasted legitimately fresh, and came surfing out when I pulled the halves apart. Structurally, this bread was a delicate choice, barely equipped to support the load. Ultimately, though, it was perfectly grilled, and left a perfectly insufficient barricade between me and the best part of the sandwich. 9/10 ($7.99)

@ The Old Fashioned, in Madison


No. 40: Grilled cheese sandwich with Swiss, aged Cheddar, wood-roasted red bell peppers and Bavaria’s hickory-smoked bacon on Texas toast.”  

I’m not normally one to withhold praise when praise is so clearly due, but I’ve just been way too depressed about this photo to feign interest in composing my love letter to this sandwich. Even opening the draft of this post left me too repulsed to put sentences together….which is obviously why I had to lead with this dazzling stock photo of their namesake. (Yes, I did partake… and yes, they’re perfect.)

Now brace yourself.

 The humanity.

As if it’s not painfully obvious, this has been paint-shopped and noise-filtered within an inch of itself – and really, no better for it. (i.e. auto ‘electric pickle’ correct.) Ironic red candles and supper club lighting aside, the Old Fashioned is pretty much a Wisconsin treasure. It’s crowded and loud, they have damn near thirty wisconsin beers on tap, and they have a five page menu full of words like “cheese,” “wurst,” and “battered.” (A bit of a conundrum, too, that they manage to make one feel nostalgia for a home state one is in, and still lives.) 

As expected, they got the grilled cheese right, too. Although not terribly crunchy, it is foolishly delicious. The bacon and roasted red peppers take this sandwich to serious flavor country….and they make a pretty good curd, too. (Despite what their name might suggest, they’re probably better known for these.) I gave the sandwich a 9, and the curds an 8. On a side note: if you think my getting cheese curds on the side was overkill, we probably can’t be friends. ($6.95)

@ The Grilled Cheese Grill, in Portland

“The Gabby:” cheddar, swiss, colby jack, mozzarella, pickles, and potato chips on sourdough. Before I first perused their menu, it would not have occurred to me to put chips on a grilled cheese. That said, the more I thought about it, the more sure I was of how awesome it was going to be. (Further, after the rotten success of the  Husdon’s “Ultimate” experiment,  I’m fighting an urge to put pickles on all of them.) It was the first one I grabbed when our “Fromage a trois” arrived. (Their fun-to-say, three sandwich combo.)  It was fantastically cheesy, and easily the favorite of the three we sampled. Good bread, perfectly grilled and greasy, and the potato chips provided a most-delightful crunch. I awarded it a (delightful) 9/10.   ($5)


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