A grilled cheese seems like a simple matter, but it is possible, even easy, to screw up. My mother managed to ruin many a grilled cheese, either through neglect (too burned, er, toasted, for my tender palate) or too fancified, with plastic sliced tomatoes.
Meltkraft masters the genre. This artisanal grilled cheese restaurant, which opened right around the corner from me in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is a sibling of the Valley Shepherd Creamery, a gourmet food shop a few blocks away.
There is also an outlet in Philadelphia.
Valley Shepherd Creamery, a sheep farm in New Jersey, makes outstanding cheese, which is one key to amazing grilled cheese. Another is the bread. The outstanding bread is good enough on its own, and simply ethereal when smothered in melted cheese.
For the purist, the Shepherd classic is the way to go. There is just the right amount of crust and crunch, and oozing full fat cheese. You can customize your sammy with truffle oil, bacon, duck fat or bacon fat for the non-vegetarians, or, if you must, tomato.
There is also a ‘melter skelter’ with pickled green tomatoes, jalapenos, BBQ potato chips and watercress, a messy nirvana that will leave you craving more.
For those who like their cheese cold, the Goat & Beets is a fantastic combo of goat cheese, fennel beets, arugula, honey and walnuts.
The café has a great selection of craft beers on tap, and you can take home a growler. For more kid-friendly fare, organic chocolate milk in a mason jar is the way to go.
But ymmy as the food is (there are also cookies, pastries and soups) the service is sorely lacking. We went on a Saturday just after the place opened, and our sandwiches took 45 minutes to get melted under the industrial toaster. But we gave the place another shot.
This time, one register wasn’t working and no one who placed orders there got their food started. Guess which line we were on? Then we were told that the salad or chip option that comes with the sandwich had turned into a $1 surcharge for the salad. We ordered salads, paid for the upcharge, got chips.