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.

They’re supposed to be on 48th btw. Park+Lex today but check their Twitter feed or the Midtown Lunch Twitter Tracker to make sure.


19 Comments

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Thank you for validating that I’m not a cheap bastard who thinks the prices are insane!

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Wow, that takes some brass cajones. Almost $9 for a grilled cheese that looks no better (worse?) than one I’d make myself at home for < $1's worth of ingredients.

    This will be a good litmus test to see if new yorkers have officially lost their minds over food trucks and will buy anything that comes out of them

  • they were at the Brewers PicNyc on Governors Island. their VIP “sample” was maybe a 1/9 sized piece of a regular sandwich. terrible way for them to give people incentive to come back.

  • That is insane. I am offended they are trying to screw the public so bad. My temptation to try any of these grill cheese trucks/restaurants has fallen to 0. I will NEVER do it. I’m tempted to wish bad things on these “entreprenuers” (and probably secretly do inside b/c they are scam artists) but I’m doing my best not to be a hater!

    • It depresses me that (1) people continue to validate the idea that $5 is a smart price to pay for two slices of American melted between two slices of toast, and (2) the market for (1) is not yet saturated.

  • You dare to call that grilled cheese?

    http://twitpic.com/55zj4i

    That my friends, is grilled cheese. Pulled Pork + Mac&Cheese grilled cheese sandwich…

  • I am most upset that Brian wrote this review without once using the words

    shitty value proposition

    thieving cocksuckers

    and / or

    larcenous stingy four wheeled fuckwads

  • Right on Wayne! I like “thieving cocksuckers” best. I’ll buy a 9 dollar grill cheese only if they let me assault one of the workers after and promise not to press charges… I would consider it a grill cheese with built in workout, which with today’s gym prices, is not a bad deal.

    Damn you Adam Prato. That’s just cruel.

    • We should have the next ML happy hour at The Bronx Ale House. Just take the 1 to 238th street :)

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I just don’t get how some of these guys can be so stupid with their pricing. I get that it is hard to make a living with an average ticket of $5. But if you want to try to charge a lot for a grilled cheese, at least make the sandwich BIG. Throw in some chips and a pickle, or some cole slaw, or a cup of iced tea or lemonade. These would add almost nothing to the cost but would at least make you not look like a con artist.

    Look at what someone like Bian Dang delivers for $7 (too cheap, btw – I’d pay more if the line were shorter). Look at what Taim provides for about the same price as this grilled cheese. How can they think $8.75 is the right price for this??

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    If they can get people to pay $9 for a grilled cheese, kudos to them. This is capitalism, if people are willing to pay it, they’re allowed to charge it.

  • @hewho: Agreed. If they can con people into paying exoribtant prices for simple cheap food, more power to them. However,I also say we can blast them mercilessly in response to their thieving cocksuckery!

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    If they called this truck Gorilla Sandwich would anyone be buying it? It’s amazing…you slap the words Grilled Cheese on something and people flock.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Brian must be the only guy on that line.

  • I’ll get my multi-grain grilled cheese with Bacon, Fresh Chorizo, Tomatoes, Jalapenos and a side of chips for $5 from the Eggstravaganza cart, thankyouverymuch.

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