Yesterday MAY have been Cheese Fondue Day, where we highlighted a high-end, artisanal cheese fondue restaurant, but today is the grand poobah of cheese-related food holidays in my opinion. Nothing beats the warm, gooey, comforting taste of American cheese melted to perfection between two slices of bread, buttered and toasted on both sides. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the sweeter-than-it-should-be Campbell’s tomato soup, or with a platter of diner-grade wedge cut French fries, the Happy Waitress also making a happy customer. Grilled cheese sandwiches are easy to make in the toaster oven, or even better when added to a hot greased griddle pan–or one of those new handy-dandy panini makers you can keep in the home. Or, head out to your favorite comfort food restaurant and get an expertly-made grilled cheese made just the way you like it!
And where better to get a grest grilled cheese sandwich than the best grilled cheese sandwich? Food Network began their The Best Thing I Ever Ate a few seasons ago, but already it’s been chocked full of New York City-centric places to catch some of the best and well-reviewed dishes in town. (It doesn’t hurt at all that the Food Network is based in Chelsea and so many of their celebrity hosts are also local chefs!) When asked where she had the best grilled cheese sandwich of her life, beloved Barefoot Contessa chef Ina Garten chose E.A.T. on the Upper East Side. Paired with their Tuscan Peasant soup, it’s a dish that’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, even though the weather is getting balmier this time of year. And the sandwich is a far cry from your hometown diner’s fare: instead of slices of neon yellow American, the sandwich is filled with gruyere, oozing out of the buttery slices of bread. Make sure to come here for lunch, however–the famed grilled cheese sandwich isn’t on the dinner menu, and you certainly won’t want to miss this one.
1064 Madison Ave (between 80th St & 81st St)
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“I saw their grilled cheese on the FOOD CHANNEL “BEST THING I EVER ATE” and decided… why not try it. It is on Madison, so I was expecting to pay a lot. Their famous grilled cheese was around $20, and yes it was amazing and worth every penny.”–Ashley A.
“My wife, on the other hand had the Peasant soup and grilled cheese and both were glorious. The soup was a meal to itself as the bread in it was the perfect addition. The sandwich was no slouch either and was devoured quickly.”–Richie S.
Some foodies, however, have questioned the choice of E.A.T. as the best grilled cheese sandwich New York City has to offer the dear Contessa. Maybe she simply hasn’t caught onto the food truck craze yet…because the overwhelming majority of food blogs and patrons agree, the Morris Grilled Cheese Truck is the only place to get a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich in the city. Since grilled cheese is owner Michael Jacober’s livelihood, he’s made sure to do it well, and makes some fantastic cheese and fixin’ combinations that include gouda and pork jowl and pastrami and chimichurri. They even have a dessert grilled cheese sandwich–sweet ricotta dipped in maple syrup. All of the bread is from some of the best bakeries in town, including Orwasher’s and Balthazar, two bakeries that I’ve highlighted for food holidays in their own right. And Jacober knows his cheese: each cheese he uses, either for his artisan sandwiches or the plain cheddar n’ bread, come from Saxelby and Murray’s for a fraction of the prices you’d get at either cheesemonger. Track this truck down wherever it may be throughout the city today–the lines may be long and full of people also looking to celebrate the food holiday, but trust me, the wait will be worth it.
Morris Grilled Cheese Truck
“There are few grilled cheese food trucks roaming our streets, but one to definitely check out is Morris Grilled Cheese. The rotating menu has everything from gouda with pork jowl to pastrami with chimichurri. Their classic take on the grilled cheese though contains delicious New York State Cheddar with New Hampshire Landaff cheese.”–CBS 2
“”We’ll always have a classic bread and cheese,” he says, while other options will include combinations like pork and gouda, a cheese blend featuring herb-marinated boucheron, and, for dessert, a ricotta sandwich dipped in maple syrup. Jacober is buying his bread from Grandaisy, Balthazar, and Orwasher’s, and his cheese from Saxelby and Murray’s. He’s also planning to do soups, a variety of dipping sauces and “a lot of different hot sauces,” and eventually wants to do his own pickling. “I just want to make really good sandwiches with no frills,” he says.”–The Village Voice
“Raclette is a milder semi-hard cow’s milk cheese excellent for melting, so I knew this was going to be good. The sandwich comes with pickled fennel stuffed in with the cheese between big slices of multigrain bread. I was in salty love; the cheese is fully melted, the fennel adds a nice crunch and tangy flavor, and the whole sandwich left me pretty satiated for a while. The sandwich is $7, but I consider this a decent price since Raclette does retail for around $15 a pound. You’re not going to get anything close to this good at your local deli with its sliced American cheese food on white bread.”–Midtown Lunch
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
” I can vouch for the smoked pork with gruyere, pickled fennel, and herb butter – perfectly proportioned, with cheesiness throughout, plenty of meat, and enough pickled fennel to give a good sharp bite to the whole thing. It was also perfectly grilled, offering up that extraordinary soft buttery crunch that makes grilled cheese the ultimate comfort food. I grabbed a small spicy tomato bisque as well, which I have to say wasn’t really spicy at all (though it was loaded with pepper). It was, however, delicious, and awesomely creamy. And made for an excellent dipping sauce, which is apparently the intention (when I asked about a spoon, I was told they didn’t have any because it was for “dippin and sippin”). And a small soup is just $2, so there’s practically no reason NOT to get it along with your grilled cheese (though when they say small, they really do mean small)!”–Jordan J.
“The intoxicating smell of bacon and cheesy goodness wafted under my nose and beckoned me, cartoon style, to the edge of the sidewalk to its source: an unassuming food truck parked by Clinton St. and Atlantic Ave. A quick glance at the menu led me to the gouda – grilled sourdough bread with bacon, herb butter and gouda cheese. I ordered one and put down my many bags, leaned against a tree for support and waited with bated breath. I was not disappointed – swathed in a brown paper bag (much like the baby jebus in the manger )came a revelation in grilled cheese. The golden bread was flecked with large flakes of sea salt and the buttery crust begged to be nibbled. With wanton delight, I bit into this temptress of a sandwich and was rewarded with the smoky crunch of crispy bacon, melty luscious gouda and the chorus from up high of sage and thyme. Holy sh-t they make one awesome grilled cheese.”–Maysa G.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!