I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and have often gone there for business, but until I read Jennifer Steinhauer's article in the New York Times, I had no idea that it had become the grilled cheese (fancy-pants and otherwise) capital of the U.S. and maybe the world. She describes the grilled cheese sandwich in L.A. as "an object of outright mania." She makes it sound as if grilled cheese sandwiches are the closest thing Los Angelenos have to their own organized religion. But I, too, am a grilled cheese maniac, and I figure a lot of you are, so today I am soliciting entries for the Serious Eats Grilled Cheese Honor Roll. Why?
Steinhauer put it best: "Buttery, salty and enduringly simple, the grilled cheese sandwich stands unrivaled in the universe of simple gastro-pleasures. It is the gateway sandwich to the land of hot sustenance, the first stovetop food many children learn to prepare by themselves."
Jennifer left out crunchy, crispy, tangy, and creamy as exemplary grilled cheese sandwich attributes, but I'm not going to hold that against her.
So without further adieu, the Serious Eats Grilled Cheese Honor Roll. This honor roll doesn't discriminate between basic and fancypants grilled cheese sandwiches, as long as the sandwich is irresistably delicious.
I haven't been to Campanile's sandwich night since Nancy Silverton left the restaurant, but her ex-husband, Mark Peel, is a great cook who knows what delicious is, so I am sure the grilled cheese sandwiches there are still up to snuff. 624 S. La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036; 213-938-1447
New York City
Artisanal: It makes sense. Take a reasonable facsimile of a French bistro that focuses on cheese, and chances are good that said restaurant will come up with a killer grilled cheese sqndwich. Chef Terrence Brennan's grilled cheese sandwich is made with English cheddar, Nueske's bacon, and Granny Smith apple slices. It comes with fabulous fries, and as part of my portion control regimen, it's most assuredly big enough to share. 2 Park Avenue, New York NY 10016; 212-725-8585; artisinalbistro.com
Bouchon Bakery: This grilled cheese sandwich is so good I wrote about it in Details magazine as one of the 22 sandwiches that will change your life. It's made on great bread, with Gruyère and fontina cheeses, and it's so golden brown it's almost (but not quite) too beautiful to eat. It comes with tomato soup, which, though not nearly as delicious, provides an excellent dipping liquid for the sandwich (if you happen to be a dipper). Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10019; 212-823-9366; other locations in Las Vegas and Yountville, California