Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tis the season of sweaters and scarves -- and grilled cheese

Grilled cheese is great for when you're in the "curl up with good book and cocoa" mood, or even for when there are 10 children running around the house and you just want to throw down a big tray of sandwiches in front of them and say "Eat!" In our house, the magic of the gooey deliciousness is in the cheese. I grew up on Tillamook cheddar, and no other cheddar will do. The bread may vary, but the cheese is a given. Pair it with some Campell's tomato soup (adding water, not milk) ... and all the generations are happy and smiling.

But I'm no snob. I'm a grilled cheese fan! Wait, grilled cheese connoisieur! And I'm happy to report that Tacoma is a great place to love grilled cheese. I have three go-to places right now for when I'm not at home and craving cheese, and can't wait to find more.

Capers Downtown, 701 Pacific Ave.
This three-cheese grilled goodness is toasted to perfectly browned perfection. The cheesey magic does not get lost or overly dominate from its place between not-too-thick-not-too-thin slices of rustic bread, the perfect amount of toastedness, and a subtle smothering of some sort of herbed buttery yumminess that has me dreamily licking my lips for hours after lunch. It's a grilled cheese that comes closest to my own but with that "I don't regret paying someone money for this" flair. The sandwich can come with Capers' oh-so-cozy tomato basil soup, one of their several tasty side salads, or a smattering of other sides. I'm rather partial to the side Caesar salad. A light layer of dressing that gives the lettuce enough zing to make it interesting, but doesn't overwhelm you with thoughts of "and how many calories are in this?" A few slivers of a hard sharp cheese (I assume Parmaesan?) throughout the salad always make me smile, and I can never leave even one of their croutons on the plate. Capers has subtle fabulousness down to a T!!!

Paddy Coynes, 815 Pacific Ave.
The Ultimate Cheese Sandwich here is definitely worthy, and in an atmosphere that definitely facilitates the gift of gab without having to kiss a gross Blarney stone. (If you don't know why it's gross, you'll have to ask ... I'm not mucking up a post about grilled cheese with that gory detail.) The Ultimate Grilled Cheese is like none other I've encountered in T-town. I'm guessing it contains some sort of Irish cheddar ... it's sharper, cheddary-ier, and comes topped with bacon and tomato. Yum. The bacon was a new concept for me, but the tomato in the grilled cheese was a scrumptious trick I learned while living in Cork, Ireland, for a few months. Though I did learn it from an American. But hey! You like tomato soup with your grilled cheese? Then why not just stick a tomato in the sandwich to start with? Awesome. The sandwich also comes with Paddy Coynes' signature shoestring fries. And while they're great fries, the cumulative amount of salt between the cheese, bacon and then the fries usually has me leaving most of the thinly sliced potatoes on the plate. It might be worth the extra buck or two or whatnot to sub a salad -- or maybe I'll just ask for no fries next time.

Over the Moon Cafe, 709 Opera Alley (Court C)
This gooey goodness (appropriately named "Not your ordinary grilled cheese sandwich") was my first foray into downtown T-Town grilled cheese splendidness. They're pretty proud of this cheesy baby at Over the Moon. It is a French recipe, a "Croutes de Fromage" "from the mountains of Bura, France, and includes thick slices of freshly baked sourdough bread and Gruyere cheese and mellow and moist Swiss cheese that has been soaked in a sweet white wine sauce before grilling," according to the Volcano's 2007 grilled cheese review. While tradition would have me pairing this baby with their tomato basil, I actually prefer their crab bisque. It's not always on the menu, but if it is -- and you can handle both dairy and seafood -- the very not ordinary grilled cheese with crab bisque will easily make your comfort food list. Add the cozy, friendly conversation space and the little London-like alley for ambiance ... and Over the Moon is the perfect place to find a little slice of gooey gladness even in the dark of a drizzly winter.

Where else? In Tacoma or out ... where does one find grilled cheesey greatness!?!?


Jess said...

I used to really, really like the grilled cheese/teeny cup of bisque combo at Stadium bistro. And I really loved its price. *sigh* The Kid is a Rosewood grilled cheese conoisseur, however.

Julie said...

thank you again for the lunch date at paddy coyne's!! i love brainstorming with you!

Ron said...

The weekly Volcano ran a story on grilled cheese last February:

tacomachickadee said...

Jess: Mmm! Yay! I'll have to try that one! And yes, Stadium bistro's were pretty yummy ...

Julie: That was fun! We'll have to do more soon ...

Ron: Psst. It was two Februarys ago. ;) (And it's linked to in the story.)

Camille said...

I make my own, though Cafe 101 down here in LA la land :) makes a good one with a side bowl of tomato soup.

When making your own, use Tillamook Cheddar Cheese. It's the best for a reason! :)