A Sandwich a Day: Tuna Melt at the Palace Grill Sandwich Shop

A Sandwich a Day

Reviews of Chicago sandwiches.


[Photograph: Sarah Song]

Tuna melts are my kryptonite. I used to celebrate 10:30 a.m. with a tuna melt—a daily college tradition between breakfast and lunch that persisted until I gained a bunch of weight and had to cool it for a while. Suffice to say, whenever I'm at a diner, tuna melts are what I crave. The tuna melt ($8.95) at the Palace Grill Sandwich Shop needs a little work, but let's start with the positives. The sandwich features solid tuna salad, and plenty of it: good quality tuna, with nubbins of pickle relish and finely chopped hard-boiled egg. It's heavy on the mayonnaise, and though it's definitely on the sweeter side, it's scrumptious. The tomato, lettuce, and pickle are on the side, which is just how I like it; I prefer my tuna melts straight up, with cheese and toast. The bread, a solid choice of Texas toast, is thick and buttered, with appropriately crispy and soft parts. And, when presented, the tuna melt is an impressive, golden, mountain mass of sandwich that you can't wait to get your grubby hands on.

Classic American cheese is placed on both sides of the toast, which, let's be honest, is the way it should be—unless it's open-faced, there should always be cheese on both sides. But, the cheese itself is nearly, but not quite, melted. And therein lies the rub: it's called a tuna melt, but it's not really all that melty. The bread is slightly warm, but it's as if the heat didn't permeate all the way through to the cheese, much less to the tuna salad. The tuna salad, though admittedly tasty, is pretty cold in the middle, and only minimally less cold at the edges. Even my college snack bar got the tuna melt down right—the first rule is, you've got to melt the cheese. Still, though I was tempted to ask them to plunk it back on the griddle, I scarfed it down anyway. This is a good tuna sandwich, but it's no tuna melt.