Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grilled cheesy adventure

Laaaast Christmas I bought one of those "half price deals" from a radio station website and put it in my husband's stocking. The gift certificate was for a restaurant called The Grilled Cheese Grill, which I had never heard of. But it sounded right up our alley because a) we love grilled cheese sandwiches and the ad implied that this place expands the culinary delight to new heights, b) they are open very late, and the idea of a midnight run for grilled cheese is the kind of thing that we would have totally done back before we had a child sleeping, and c) the restaurant is in a bus. Yeah.

The problem is, The Grilled Cheese Grill is located far on the other side of town where we rarely have business, too far to reasonably drive just to get a grilled cheese sandwich, even if it is served in a school bus.

Fast forward to thiiiiiis year, when I was contemplating how to celebrate Gary's birthday. We tend to honor birthdays by doing something more often than giving something.  My friend Sarah gave me the idea to check out Ape Cave, and while researching, I figured out that The Grilled Cheese Grill is only a few blocks off the path to get there. It was the perfect excuse to use the gift certificate and try a fun, new place for a special birthday lunch. And the best part is, I discovered that the certificate I had purchased was going to expire at the end of the month, so the timing could not have been better!

As we walked along the sidewalk in Northeast Portland toward our surprise destination, we encountered this:

In case it isn't clear, that is a wooden utility pole covered with a four-inch layer of damp flyers.  They had been partially torn off to provide this stunning cross-section of so many lost kitties, grunge band performances, and bikes for sale. I love this picture. 

The Grilled Cheese Grill was everything I had hoped for and then some. The concept of a mostly-outdoor restaurant doesn't usually swoon me in early November, but at least it wasn't raining. 

In addition to the outdoor picnic tables, this old school bus had been converted into a dining area as well.  The entire ceiling is painted with a semi-frightening mural the title of which might be "Otto's acid trip."  We found ourselves fielding questions like, "Mommy, why doesn't that cat have a head?" and "Ha ha! That skeleton is wearing pants!"

While we waited for our sandwiches to be grilled, Madelyn played bus driver. She is wearing those hideous silver sparkly shoes. We hate them, she loves them. What are you gonna do?

And then. And THEN. Our glorious grilled cheese sandwiches were served. Mine was called the BABS: bacon, apples, bleu cheese, and swiss on rye.  This taste sensation might be enough to make me say OMG, if only I were not fundamentally opposed to uttering that abomination. I will say that it was so yummy that tomato soup dipping was unnecessary. Gary got The Pops with ham, tomato, havarti, and honey mustard on Dave's Killer Cracked Wheat. We wanted to get the requisite tomato soup of course, plus a kids' grilled cheese for Madelyn. A la carte, this would have cost $21.75 (actually not a bad deal for a 3-person lunch). But they have this cleverly titled special called  Fromage a Trois where you get three sandwiches ("one for me, one for you, one to split") plus two soups or two chips for $17.50. So instead of the kids' sandwich, we got The Gabby, which features four cheeses, to share with Madelyn. Our gift certificate was a $20 value, and of course they don't give change, so the $1.75 charge to add ham to Gary's choice brought us up to $19.25--perfect!

The food was delicious and the concept so unique and fun that we'd consider driving all the way over there. Just for a Grilled Cheese Grill grilled cheese sandwich. Because I still really want to try The JalapeƱo Popper and The Hot Brie. Plus--and this is a BIG plus--they also have sweet grilled cheese sandwiches.  Various combinations of brie, Nutella, marscarpone, bananas,and peanut butter grilled between cinnamon swirl or white bread. You can even add bacon to create The Fat Elvis. Yes, we will definitely need to venture out to The Grilled Cheese Grill again. 


Amber said...

This place sounds awesome! If only we still lived in Portland! I had no idea it even existed. This might have to make my list of places to visit the next time we are in town.

Bridget said...

I almost had to stop reading this post from sheer jealousy. The cheese market (aside from goat-based cheeses) is thin on the ground here so my mouth is watering big time right now.

(I mean goat MILK-based cheeses.)


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