Gorilla Cheese Truck Proves That Size Does Matter
It’s clear that grilled cheese sandwiches are having a moment in New York. Or at least some food entrepreneurs are hoping that’s true. Perhaps this all happened thanks to America’s Next Great Restaurant, where poor Eric was ousted too early and not given time to realize his grilled cheese vision. I bet if he saw what’s happening in New York right now (especially with all these extra dipping sauces), he’d be kicking himself.
Gorilla Cheese is the first of the triumvirate of grilled cheese trucks slated to hit the city this summer. They launched a few weeks ago, but made their first foray into Midtown last Thursday. The line was rather modest when I arrived around 1:00 and it took me only 10 minutes to order and receive my sandwich. That’s quite a turnaround from what Andrea experienced downtown the previous week. Either these guys have finally got their act together or the novelty of buying grilled cheese from a truck has quickly worn off.
First and foremost, of course, is the price of the sandwiches. All their specialty concoctions rack in at a whopping $8.75. That’s pushing it for a sandwich in general, but for buttered bread and cheese, I’d have to say it’s ludicrous. In their defense, all these sandwiches feature a meat product and a fancier type of cheese. So taking that into account, this had better be a pretty damn good grilled cheese.
Aside from the classic options of American, Cheddar, Gruyere, or Mozzarella, they offered a few specialty sandwiches and three special items that were written on the window (rather than the blackboard). The Brie and Strawberry Preserves sandwich sounded enticing, but potentially too sweet. And I was also tempted by the Munster with Sauteed Jalapeños. But in the end, I felt like I should try one of their specialty sandwiches and since Andrea already commented on the BBQ pulled pork, I opted for the second most appealing: Asiago with Prosciutto di Parma.
Shock, sadness, and denial began to sink in as I opened the bag to reveal the tiniest of grilled cheese sandwiches. It looked like this bread was smaller than your typical store bought loaf. My 10-year old self (who was a a wiz at grilled cheese) would be embarrassed to serve something so small. There is no way this cost a fraction of what they’re charging and I knew before I tasted it that I would still be hungry. Side options of tater tots, mac and cheese, or tomato soup were $3 or more and the dipping sauces were each 50 cents, so I opted for just the sandwich. You’d think they could include one dipping sauce with each order. That’d be the generous thing to do.
The good news is that the sandwich tasted pretty good. The incredibly thin white bread (which is referred to as French bread) had a perfect brown crust that gave it a rich, buttery mouthfeel and a crisp exterior. The Asiago cheese had a nutty creaminess that made this stand out from your usual grilled cheese. However, the advertised prosciutto was in direct balance with the sandwich: it was tiny. There seriously must have been a single salty thin slice.
And while the flavors were good, it was a little dry and could have used a bit of sweetness. I imagine those dipping sauces would have helped (although does anybody know when that became a thing with grilled cheese?).
It seems to me there is so much you can do with grilled cheese – it’s a great starting point. But in order to make it worth anybody’s while, you need to balance good ingredients with fair prices and portion sizes. This would have been a perfect bar snack at a fancy cocktail bar, but for a cheap, filling lunch (from a truck, no less!), it just doesn’t cut it. Two more grilled cheese trucks on their way. Let’s hope somebody figures this out soon.