A Sandwich a Day: Grown Up Grilled Cheese at Blue Door Farm Stand

A Sandwich a Day

Reviews of Chicago sandwiches.


[Photograph: Sarah Song]

A grilled cheese sandwich is many things: second-grade cafeteria lunch, 1 a.m. post-bar food, cheapest item on the menu pre-paycheck, and best friend to tomato soup (and to me, in times of woe). I was super psyched to try the Grown Up Grilled Cheese sandwich ($8) at the Blue Door Farm Stand, despite not knowing whether the Grown Up descriptor referred to me, the eater (wait, am I really an adult?) or to the sandwich itself (does this grilled cheese think it's better than others?).

Well, as it turns out, this grilled cheese is much better than, and simultaneously not as good as, the grilled cheeses of yore. Toasted on Red Hen multigrain bread, the Grown Up Grilled Cheese features a trifecta of classic cheeses: nutty Gruyère, buttery Havarti, and sharp baby Swiss. The toast is dotted with grains and seeds, which provide toothsome textural contrast to the melted cheese. In the middle is placed a thick tomato slice and fresh basil leaves, which lighten up what could've been a pretty heavy sandwich. In particular, the basil gives the sandwich a welcome herbaceous bitterness. The final brilliant touch is a drizzle of aromatic rosemary honey. The honey elevates this sandwich into a delicate, complex grilled cheese many steps superior to the one-note (but still beloved) Kraft American cheese and Wonder Bread of my youth.

However, although the sandwich tastes complicated—with sweet, savory, and herby flavors playing equal fiddle—the construction of the sandwich leaves a little to be desired. The cheeses themselves are melted to each bread slice, but the sandwich doesn't stick together as a whole, since neither side of cheese is melted to the tomato in the middle. And true, it might taste like a grilled cheese in my mouth, but that doesn't mean it acts like a grilled cheese on the plate—it breaks apart in the middle with very little provocation, slip-sliding away with each bite. It's too bad, because the very components that make this sandwich such a success, like the tomato and the honey, are the things that are making it fall apart. What a conundrum! I guess this grilled cheese sandwich really is for adults after all.