Monday, September 13, 2010

Grilled Cheese & Co. in Catonsville

The secret to most great sandwiches is fresh, interesting ingredients.  The secret to great grilled cheese is butter.

I'm still trying to put those ideas together just like the folks at the Grilled Cheese & Co.  The new Catonsville restaurant offers high-end grilled cheese -- unusual ingredients like roasted peppers, steak, or barbecue sauce.

I want to love it, and I think some of the sandwiches would be delicious.  But everything isn't better with butter.  Great grilled cheese sandwiches depend on fried, crispy bread, and I don't know that every great sandwich ingredient wants to be surrounded by buttery crispness.

Cheddar, bacon and tomatoes sounds right.  But I tried their new "santorini" variation with gyro meat, feta and tzatziki sauce.  Gyros are a great sandwich, but I didn't feel like they got any better when they were buttered and grilled.  Actually, the gyro meat wasn't that great.  But, even more, I wondered why I'd want butter on a Greek sandwich.  Mrs. HowChow said the same thing about her sandwich of mozzarella and peppers.

The irony is that butter changed my cooking when a roommate opened my eyes beyond the Low Fat Era style in fashion when I first cracked a cookbook.  (His advice is expensive now so it's good I listened.)  I want the grilling and the cheesing to improve sandwiches, but it's not like you're substituting margarine out of the gyro or the Italian sausage sub.

Like Coal Fire Pizza, this looks like an idea designed to franchise or expand.  I'm not arguing with the basic idea or with the quality of ingredients -- except the gyro meat -- that were worth $7-8 per sandwich.  I'd jusy go for the basic sandwiches next time, something that wants a crispy, buttery outside.  You can make a great sandwich with tomatoes and the right cheddar.  Of course, Grilled Cheese & Co. needs a full menu, so they offer salads and side orders of chips or fries, regular or sweet potato.

Grilled Cheese & Co.
500 Edmondson Ave
CatonsvilleMD 21228

(410) 747-2610

NEAR: Grilled Cheese & Co is on Edmondson just inside I-695.  It's just north of Rte 144, one of the main drags through Catonsville and a straight shot from downtown Ellicott City.

Grilled Cheese & Co. on Urbanspoon


Adam said...

I think you nailed it. I have not been here, but to me, it sounds like they are trying to do panini-style sandwiches with many of those flavor profiles. And butter just does NOT fit in with some of those. I understand that the rich, over-the-top nature of butter makes a great "Cassic" grilled cheese, but that's only because your classic grilled cheese isn't a balance of flavor, and gets off on being over the top and rich.

Barb said...

I was there a few weeks ago with my kids and Mother. We both ordered the cheese, bacon and tomato. We could have split it, as it was really big and really greasy. You are right about too much butter being used. It was sitting in a pool of it. Lets be honest, you need to use butter when making grilled cheese, but I think they could cut back a bit considering that the sandwhich is then loaded with greasy cheese as well as greasy bacon. This is not a sandwhich or a place you can visit if you are on a will get your daily calorie consumption in one meal here:) Not sure I would go back, just thinking about it makes me feel fat.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree. I love Grilled Cheese and Co. The sandwiches are great takes on a childhood favorite of mine. I have been there 4 times and enjoyed each trip. The sweet potato fries are incredible.

Suzy said...

I absolutely love Grilled Cheese and Co.! The sandwiches are awesome - so I have nothing but praise for this place!!

Eric said...

My DW had a crab melt, right after they opened. She thought it was pretty greasy, but thought it was just that particular sandwich. We haven't been back, but more from lack of time than distaste. Liked the fries.

Spedrson said...

I was wondering if you were going to review this place. We went once, during lunch on a VERY busy Saturday. We waited forever and it turned out that our order was misplaced. The owner was very apologetic and gave us a coupon for 1/2 off a menu item for our next visit. But, honestly I don't think I'll go out of my way again. I agree with you - it's much too greasy.

Anonymous said...

Not only are the sandwiches greasy, but really, for the amount of money they cost, are they worth it?
We went there a couple of times to give the place a shot since we live so close. I wanted to like it. I thought I would, but the food was not fantastic and it was too crowded. Seating is limited. There appeared to be more than half a dozen bodies behind the counter, but the order took too long and there was no wow factor to the ingredients in the sandwiches. I had the steak with blue cheese. It could have been awesome. I wanted it to be awesome. I've since returned to Subway.

Leasol said...

They should consider add a make your own sandwich with available ingredients. Now that's a concept!!

Morty Abzug said...

The wife and I have some friends who love "Grilled Cheese and Co." and highly recommended it. So we went a couple of months ago with high expectations. We ordered 3 sandwiches and split them: the crabby melt, the blue ox, and one other. The sandwiches weren't bad, but nor did they meet expectations.

However, at least two sets of our friends love the place. So your mileage may vary.

They're definitely looking to franchise. If you read the press releases under the "news" section of their website,, you will see them talking about "dozens" of franchises in the next two years. Seems very ambitious. I wish them well.

indigo_tide said...

I have wanted to try this place, but mostly out of appreciation for a very successful place in Cleveland called Melt. It combines unique grilled cheese sandwiches and a huge beer list. It is always worth the long wait when they have limited space. The bread they use is usually of a thick sourdough variety - and never greasy. Their sides are equally good. I'm heading back to my hometown this weekend for a wedding, and I wish I had time to have lunch at Melt. My boyfriend is a huge fan. But we're not jumping to go to this place terribly soon. The setup has got promise, as it has worked in Cleveland. But I just think that Melt is doing it just right.

But you know, I could also stay home and make myself some pretty darn good grilled cheese.

Anonymous said...

I think this concept may work at the mall and maybe even a business park where they'd close after lunch but I don't think they'd hold their own after hours. There's only so much greesy goodness one can take.

After seeing them at the wine-in-the-woods two years ago, I thought it was a good idea to check it out. I got the crabby melt and was surprised at how much butter they used. I also watched them make the sandwiches during what was a busy time in their small shop in Catonsville. Unfortunately, I had big dreams that weren't fulfilled.

For me, it's a one hit wonder that should stick to vending special events where you don't mind paying $10 for a $3 grilled cheese sandwich.