Friday, May 20, 2011

Is Grilled Cheese The New Cupcake?

On my way to 'wichcraft for its 8th anniversary special (one of 8 classic sandwiches, a peanut butter or chocolate cream'wich, and an iced tea or lemonade for $8- how can you beat that?), I was lured off course by the colorful menu board and attention-grabbing logo (an oversized gorilla licking its lips while holding a grilled cheese in one hand and clutching a red, white, and blue Empire State Building in the other) on the Gorilla Cheese truck. With this 7-day old truck joining two NYC-based grilled cheese trucks (The Milk Truck and Morris Grilled Cheese Truck) and an outdoor take-out stand in midtown (Melt Shop), one is left to wonder- is grilled cheese poised to pick up where the cupcake craze left off?

In a town that is already heavily saturated with food trucks, Gorilla Cheese offers a fresh take on a classic favorite by allowing customers to pick from a creative menu (the smoked gouda with barbecue pulled pork and onions on wheat bread is a top seller) or build a grilled cheese of their own design utilizing ingredients like sautéed jalapenos, killer crumbled bacon, and Prosciutto di Parma, to name a few. Sides like creamy tomato soup (something I always love with a homemade grilled cheese), mac and cheese bites (panko breaded and deep fried), and tater tots with dipping sauces like ginger, sweet and sour Thai chili, balsamic glaze, and Vidalia onion, drinks and a dessert sandwich are also available.

I opted for one of the two daily specials- a $6 cheddar cheese and sliced tomato on multigrain bread with the chef's own "crack dust", a sweet rub made from a combination of brown sugar and spices. Curiosity and love for another great classic, the gooey, chocolatey s'more, drew my attention to the one dessert on the menu- a grilled s'more sandwich on homemade graham cracker bread for $4. Order taken, sandwiches grilled, bagged, and ready to go, I took the short 3 minute walk back to my apartment. Unfortunately, it was just enough time for the cheese to cool and the bread to become slightly soggy. The problem with grilled cheese- wait time is directly proportional to taste, so it should be eaten immediately or the experience diminishes substantially (Bobby Flay predicted this when he declined to invest in MeltWorks on NBC's America's Next Great Restaurant). The special crack dusted grilled cheese would have been delicious had it gone directly from grill to mouth, but as it stood waiting to be consumed, it became a lackluster lunch. As for the dessert, the cinnamon and sugared bread is good enough to make it on its own, but adding a few marshmallows and spreadable chocolate and calling it a s'more does a disservice to the time-honored treat. Lesson learned, a traditional s'more does not translate into a grilled sandwich no matter how good the marriage of chocolate and marshmallows may be.

Gorilla Cheese's menu- classics, specialty sandwiches, additions, sides, dipping sauces, drinks, dessert, and merchandise ("Gorilla Gear")- do these prices seem steep to anyone else?
Cheddar cheese and sliced tomato between multigrain bread with special "crack dust"
The interior of the dessert sandwich
A few bites of the grilled s'more sandwich was all I could manage


  1. With the obesity epidemic I'M glad multigrain and wheat bread are available.

  2. Obesity isn't an epidemic- it's a lifestyle.