Forget plastic-wrapped Kraft singles — for Brooklyn’s dairy-loving gourmands, grilled cheese is officially the most haute thing on sliced bread.
“I knew I could build a business around it,” said Michael Jacober of the Morris Grilled Cheese Truck, just one of many elevated toasted sandwich eateries to hit Brooklyn within the last year. “It’s easy to eat, inexpensive, and so totally American. Everyone loves grilled cheese.”
Marcel Simoneau, co-owner of Noorman’s Kil, a new grilled cheese and whiskey bar in Williamburg, could not agree more.
“It’s the perfect comfort food,” he said. “And it’s also the ideal canvas for really great ingredients.”
With menus boasting a who’s who of top purveyors (Orwashers and Bathazar bread, Saxelby’s and Murray’s cheeses) and artisanal fillers (pulled pork, applewood smoked ham, agave mayo) — there’s no question that these neighborhood griddlers take their cheesy creations seriously — Wonder Bread need not apply.
Here are our favorites:
Milk Truck: One of the original granddaddies of the grilled cheese movement (circa 2010), the Milk Truck’s lactose-happy offerings rely on straight-up flavor combinations and top-of-the-line ingredients. There’s the classic — aged Wisconsin gruyere and cultured butter on Levain Pullman bread — or the classic with a twist (with champagne pickled onions); the three cheese, the ham and cheese, and the breakfast sandwich, which is topped with caramelized onions and a farm fresh fried egg. Need some dairy to wash down your dairy? You can’t go wrong with the truck’s signature malt ball French vanilla milkshake.
Milk Truck [Multiple locations. For info, visit milktruckgrilledcheese.com/whereweare.html].
Morris Grilled Cheese: Michael Jacober, an alum of Anissa and Per Se in Manhattan and Franny’s in Brooklyn, added a dash of culinary panache to the toasted cheese world when his truck hit the streets in July. Although Jacober often offers a late-night special three dollar, no frills sammy, it’s hard to turn down his more inspired (and more expensive) creations like gouda with pork jowl and ramp butter, raclette with beer braised pork and spicy pickles, and cashel blue cheese with duck prosciutto and pickled cauliflower.
Morris Grilled Cheese [Multiple locations. For info, visit the truck’s Facebook page].
Food Freaks: The newest purveyor on the griddled sammy scene, this Fort Greene truck goes freaky for highfalutin combos like short rib with gruyere, pickled red onions, watercress and blackberry jam; ricotta and mozzarella with soppressata; and fontinella with avocado, bacon, and cilantro cream. It also one-ups the wheeled competition with a roster of $1 dipping sauces like red pepper mostarda, agave mayo, and — what else? — creamy tomato soup.
Food Freaks Grilled Cheese [DeKalb Avenue near S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (347) 765-1664]. For info, visit www.foodfreaks.com.
Noorman’s Kil: Yes, Brooklyn is now home to three grilled cheese trucks, but the recently opened Noorman’s Kil in Williamsburg has the distinction of being the borough’s first dedicated toasted cheese eatery. “Who doesn’t love grilled cheese?” enthused co-owner Marcel Simoneau. “It makes you feel like a kid again.” Make that a kid who’s just raided his parents liquor cabinet; Noorman’s Kil also boasts a serious menu of over 200 whiskies to go with oozy creations like the Jane: NY sharp cheddar and My Friend’s Mustard on sourdough, and the Maefred: double crème brie, rosemary, and mushrooms on ciabatta.
Noorman’s Kil [609 Grand St. between Lorimer and Leonard streets in Williamsburg, (347) 384-2526].
61 Local: This community-minded Cobble Hill public house has only seven sandwiches on its carefully curated menu — and three of them are grilled cheese. The Imperial (raw cow raclette cheese from Vermont, balsamic onions, and tomato jam), the New Hamster (Landaff cheese, Dickson’s Farmstand ham, and spicy pickle relish), and the Mozzilla (Di Bruno’s fresh mozzarella, pesto, and tomato sauce on foccacia) are exercises in locally sourced perfection, and ideally washed down with a pint of Kelso or Sixpoint beer.
61 Local [61 Bergen St. between Boerum Place and Smith Street in Cobble Hill, (347) 763-6624].
Pilar Cuban Eatery: Welcome to Miami! Grilled cheese gets a Cuban makeover at this casual Clinton Hill restaurant. Sure, you can order the classic pressed cubano (roast pork, ham, swiss cheese and pickles), but the Pilar Grilled Cheese is an original menu entity, with fried plantains, cheddar, gruyere cheese, and espresso mustard all griddled together on multi-grain bread. Muy delicioso!
Pilar Cuban Eatery [393 Classon Ave. between Clifton Place and Greene Avenue in Clinton Hill, (718) 623-2822].
Longbow Pub and Pantry: You may not be able to find a proper grilled cheese sandwich at New York’s only Welsh pub, but who understands the pleasures of fat, the delight of dairy, and the art of carbo-loading better than the British? Go for the Welsh Rarebit at this affable Bay Ridge eatery — aged cheddar cheese melted with beer and spices and poured over thick cuts of white country bread. “It’s the perfect hangover cure,” said owner Jennifer Colbert, “and the beer gives it a little hair of the dog.” The rarebit can be ordered with or without bacon, but who (except for a vegetarian or kosher Jew) would ever dream to order without?
Longbow Pub and Pantry [7316 Third Ave. between 73rd and 74th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 238-7468].