5 Toronto restaurants specializing in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches
Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are becoming something of a trend in Toronto restaurants, and for good reason. It's hard enough to resist the nostalgic allure of gooey grilled cheese, but add some haute accoutrements--whether it be a strong Stilton, or smoked ham, or even the pesto that would've turned your stomach as a kid--and it's practically impossible. Fortunately, there are a number of new restaurants that have made the (un)common grilled cheese their raison d'etre. See also: the best grilled cheese sandwiches in Toronto.
The Grilled Cheese
I first encountered The Grilled Cheese through Ronnie's Local just across the street, where they deliver their complex-flavoured gourmet grilled cheese sammies. The Blackjack ranks among the stars of the menu--Jalapeno havarti, tomatoes, spinach and olive tapenade come together beautifully, but prepare yourself for a bit of a wait. Despite that, my only real complaint is that the sandwiches come with chips.
Melt Grilled Cheese
Melt offers delicious combinations for affordable prices--a big accomplishment considering that one of their "melts" consists of braised chipotle pork, mac 'n' cheese, purple slaw and cheddar. The format is simple: just select your melt, which runs the gamut from a breakfast sandwich to the Hot Momma Hudda, which features crispy chicken, then choose a bread, some free toppings and make it a combo. Oh, and don't forget to choose a dipping sauce.
Glow Press in Dine on 3
If grilled cheese sandwiches are a childhood staple, then Glow Press in Yorkdale is meant for truly elegant tots. Featuring all-natural cheeses, Glow lets you customize your sandwich with an array of toppings from pulled pork, to prosciutto, to lobster. Yes, lobster. All sandwiches come with a selection of freshly-made sides that rely on what's in season.
Cheesewerks takes considerable liberties with your childhood grilled cheese. Named after cities, the sandwiches range from a mix of swiss, spiced pastrami and pickled red cabbage (New York, of course) to the double-take-worthy Beijing, a blend of asiago, hoisin and BBQ pork. They also offer sliders, for the picky, can't-make-up-their-minds cheese enthusiasts. Add a side of housemade soup, mixed fruit or olives, or if you want to re-create the experience--or a layman's approximation thereof--you can shop their stock of fine cheeses and artisanal breads.
Millwood Melt has my vote for featuring tuna so prominently on their menu--the "kahuna tuna" is no-frills blend of Hawaiian tuna salad, tomato and medium cheddar. You'll also find variations on the standard grilled cheese such as spicy avocado and smoked ham, with all sandwiches presented on a sourdough bun. Run by a husband-and-wife team whose family has owned the building for years, the restaurant has a set menu featuring both recommended combinations and options for customization, as well as specials, a healthy array of sides--from tomato soup to mixed greens--and coffees made with organic fair-trade beans.
Photo courtesy of Cheesewerks' Facebook page