11/22/2010

hold the pickle vol. 9 ....

when one sets out on a quest one signs up for traveling on a myriad of different paths to face a myriad of different obstacles in order to finally wind up at the ultimate outcome or conclusion. thats kind of like what i am in the process of doing right now on my sandwich quest. sometimes the roads are less traveled and a hidden gem is discovered (think back to the italian sub for $3.29) and sometimes i wind up at the home of a baltimore sandwich institution (can you say chaps?). this weeks journey has carried me to a fork in this proverbial road to enlightenment that just so happens to be paved with sandwiches.

the fork came about in catonsville of all neighborhoods and the dispensary of sandwiches was name the grilled cheese & co. this was not a literal fork, but rather a sandwich based fork that had me pitted with how to approach the pillar of the sandwich pantheon that is the grilled cheese. when one ponders a grilled cheese one is almost always transported to a place like a diner or a kids menu, but not now in the baltimore area. the old school classic grilled cheese now has a much hyped/blogged about/twittered about home at the grilled cheese & co., so naturally it was only going to be a matter of time until i popped in to see what all the fuss was about.

this will bring out the kid in you.
this catonsville sandwich factory is on edmondson ave next to 695 (that numerical speak for the baltimore beltway), and looks more like a catonsville house than the hottest grilled cheese restaurant this side of anywhere. rather than bore you with a cliche, ill bore you with a lofty not too connected metaphor. the plain white exterior at grilled cheese & co. isnt much too look at ... much like the exterior of a grilled cheese sandwich. and like the timeless sandwich the real punch is packed in whats on the inside, and in the case of the grilled cheese & co.s interior it is sleek, clean, understated, dotted with unique flares, and deliciously pungent (much like a propper grilled cheese). the playfulness of the sandwich which the gc&c pays homage to is expressed in the playful chalkboard menus and the fun grilled cheese sandwich facts that cover one of the walls. if getting you excited for a grilled cheese was the vision of this restaurants interior then the designer knew what he/she was doing.

its counter style service with a window for ordering and a window for picking up your sandwich. to be fair to all the other grilled cheese sandwiches that went before me i strayed away from the more exotic flavors and went straight for the ultimate grilled cheese experience; grilled cheese with bacon and tomato. at the gc&c thats simply a 'bct' which is the initials of bacon, cheddar, and tomato. i opted for the sweet potato fry combo and drink for a whopping $8.45. i didnt think that was too expensive. i mean price wise it was on par for the fast lunch options out there, but it was just a grilled cheese, so for the $8.45 the gc&c set my standards kind of high.

i selected a table and realized i had come at the ideal time, 1145 in the morning. i waited no longer than 10 minutes and was greeted by a voice calling out 'number 36, number 36'. bingo! i was back at the table pile of sweet potato fries cascading over a gooey sandwich cradled in a paper basket and the line was now easily 10 people deep.

i was impressed. the fries werent made on premise, but were fried to a perfect crispiness and there were lots of them. the sandwich, covered by the fries was no doubt the star of this show. thick cut italian/white bread that had kissed a flat top stove long enough to blush a perfectly brown color. the cheddar was delicious, thick, gooey, and greasy enough to soften the bread from the inside.

its gooey, its blurry, and its delicious.
here is where thing took a different turn for the better. the bacon and the tomato were 1st diced and then put in the sandwich. this meant that there was less sirface area contact with the bread and the cheese which meant there was no chance of the dreaded 'one bite and the tomato slides out'. genius! it was on my 2nd bite or so that i noticed there was a bottle of crystal hot sauce on my table and well actually on every table. hmmmm grilled cheese and hot sauce? why not? oh yeah winner winner! straight 'a' for my sandwich!

i really did enjoy the sandwich. the price was a little high, but there were a lot of fries and they didnt skimp on the bacon or tomato (although maybe with the dice technique they are actually saving on food costs?!?). the only real draw backs about this up and coming grilled cheese sandwich shop is that it is in catonsville which means a serious car ride for most in the baltimore area. and the other issue is that there might only be 20 -30 seats in the place, and i can see that at lunch time on any day there are going to be people on to of people waiting to eat all the fries from on top of their grilled cheese sandwiches.

when paying homage to such a staple in the sandwich cannon there are over a 1,000 ways/themes/variations one can take. some of these can lead a sandwich visionary astray and land them so far off target. this isnt the case with the grilled cheese & co. this place has taken the humble but detail oriented path that leads its customers to a place of serious grilled cheese satisfaction.  


Grilled Cheese & Co. on Urbanspoon

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