Grilled cheese is my go-to comfort food. The only problem is that I’m usually still hungry after scarfing down the classic diner version — two slices of white bread with a piece of somewhat melty cheddar in the middle. That was definitely not the case when I rolled myself home from last weekend’s Big Cheesy grilled cheese cook-off.
There were six different restaurants competing with eight versions of some seriously creative grilled cheese oozing a bevy of high-quality ingredients. Diners were given unlimited samples of each sandwich and a ping pong ball to cast their vote for best creation.
This one was crowned the city’s best:
5 Oz. Factory’s “The Meltdown” consisted of Emmi Roth Smoked Provolone, Brie, Horseradish & Chive Havarti, Roasted Pencil Asparagus, Mushrooms, Basil and Horseradish Pesto.
The Meltdown was Dave’s personal favorite (although, being a Midwestern boy at heart, I think he was also swayed by the sheer niceness of 5 Oz. Factory’s Wisconsin-bred owner.) While I thought the horseradish gave the sandwich an unexpected and tasty kick, I cast my ballot for this one instead:
Van Horn’s sandwich of Pimento Cheese & Smoked Mushrooms on Caputo’s Sourdough.
It ended up coming in second place. The sandwich was simple yet outrageously delicious, and I gave the Brooklyn-based shop extra points for its golf-related theme. In case you missed my earlier post, the Masters tournament (which took place last weekend) is known for its pimento cheese sandwiches. Van Horn put a high-brow spin on the sandwich and a low-brow spin on its ballot box, both of which I appreciated:
Among the other Big Cheesy contenders was this:
La Maison du Croque Monsieur’s “Croque Monsieur,” featuring Mushroom Ragout, Bechamel, Provolone Cheese & Truffle Oil.
The shop also had a second offering on hand:
A “Classic Croque Monsieur” consisting of Jambon de Paris, Bechamel & Raclette Cheese.
Both of these sandwiches were quite good but a little too run-of-the-mill when compared to the assortment of unique ingredients used by other shops.
For instance, check out this specimen from Alex Mitow’s All American Diner:
“Challah Atcha Boy” had Garlic Buttered Challah with Nueske Bacon, Navel Pastrami, Aged Cheddar, Fontina, Chipotle Apple Aioli and Deli-Style Potato Chips.
And this one from MeltKraft:
“Melter Skelter” featured Valley Sheperd Creamery Melter Skelter Raclette-style Cheese, Pickled Green Tomatoes, Jalapeño, BBQ Potato Chips and Watercress.
Murray’s Melts also put out two strong grilled cheeses:
“The Piccante Pig” held Pulled Pork, Black Beans, Pepperjack and Salsa Verde.
And a more simple sandwich, “The Peppa Jack,” featured Pepperjack and Peppadews.
I’m a little grilled cheesed-out at the moment but I definitely plan to hit up several of these contenders’ shops to try their other creations once my melty sandwich coma wears off. Like, maybe tomorrow for lunch.