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.
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.