‘wichcraft Brings Grilled Cheese & Soup to Bryant Park
As I began to reminisce about Melt Shop from earlier this month, and just before the snow started and the temperature dropped to single digits (obviously), I found myself craving some grilled cheese and tomato soup once again. Sure, I could schlep up to 50th and indulge in their Fried Chicken grilled cheese, but that leaves me no time to get back to my desk and watch YouTube videos for the remainder of my lunch. Is that a trade-off I’m willing to make? Fortunately, it wasn’t necessary. After a quick Google search, I was reminded that ‘wichcraft had opened their Grilled Cheese & Soup stand in Bryant Park – only a block away. Was this going to fulfill both of my stringent lunch requirements – grilled cheese with tomato soup and YouTube videos?
When the time came, I hurried over to Bryant Park and made my way over to the stand. It’s situated on the corner closest to 40th and 6th Ave. As I rounded the corner, I saw the stand and to my surprise, no line whatsoever – awesome! Or…not awesome? I wasn’t sure. The menu is small and concise, three different choices of grilled cheese and a single tomato soup option.
They offer a combo, for $10.79, which hints at the necessity to order them together as, without the combo, a sandwich and soup would come to a little under $12. I was able to try the classic and provolone menu choices, as well as their tomato soup (obviously).
Once you place your order, the grilled cheese are thrown onto a little flattop grill in the stand. They use a rather hefty amount of what I can only assume, or hope, to be olive oil and certainly don’t rush the process. Understandably, you can’t rush a grilled cheese but, come on lady, these YouTube videos aren’t going to watch themselves.
With my order bagged up, I began my walk back to the office. However, in the interest of providing Midtown Lunch with some decent pictures, I decided to use what sunshine was left on that cold January day to sit down at a table in the park and go to work.
Opening up the bag, I was surprised to see an extra bag containing some crackers. I have absolutely no idea what was in them, but they were a welcome addition and worked well with the tomato soup. The tomato soup container is wider than that of the Melt Shop counterpart, which is ideal for optimal grilled cheese dunking. I began with the provolone, ripping apart it’s paper wrapping, I found the reveal to be lackluster.
The crust on one side was a little burnt, but otherwise, this appeared to be a run-of-the-mill grilled cheese. I opened it up, and although some of the cheese had not fully melted, it certainly started to look a little more appetizing as the roasted peppers became visible.
I took one bite sans tomato soup, and it was pretty straightforward. I don’t want to say boring, but nothing stood out to me as overwhelmingly great. From then on, my remaining bites consisted of only grilled cheese and tomato soup. Contrary to the grilled cheese, the soup stood out to me as delicious. It wasn’t nearly as salty as the soup from Melt Shop, but offered great flavor and was the perfect temperature to keep me from freezing outside. (Although I’m guessing it’s not strong enough to have the same effect on a day like today.)
Next up was the classic with the New York State cheddar. No frills here, just a nicely prepared grilled cheese.
It was after biting into the classic when I really started to pickup on the differences between Melt Shop and ‘wichcraft. Melt Shop makes grilled cheese that can stand on their own, the tomato soup is an afterthought, something I imagine they include simply because the combination is somewhat of a culinary staple that people really enjoy. I would imagine the majority of Melt Shop customers don’t actually order the tomato soup, although I have absolutely no statistics to back that up. On the other hand, ‘wichcaft’s grilled cheese are designed to work with the tomato soup. I like to think of them as spoons made out of cheese and bread. Put simply, I couldn’t eat just a grilled cheese from ‘wichcraft, and I don’t think they intend for that to be the case. At Melt Shop, I could happily eat the Fried Chicken alone, although I would ordinarily choose not to.
So, is ‘wichcraft’s dedication to the pairing of sandwich and soup bad? Of course not, if the urge for grilled cheese and tomato soup comes along, ‘wichcraft is a good option. However, I can’t help but feel like their dedication to the combination almost hinders the possibility of serving more dynamic grilled cheese, similar to those of Melt Shop. Anyone who has gotten a normal lunch sandwich from ‘wichcraft’s other location knows full well that they are capable of making a great sandwich.
Maybe a better question is – does ‘wichcraft want to make grilled cheese like Melt Shop? That’s not a question I can answer. What I can tell you, however, is that despite enjoying my overall experience at ‘wichcraft, I couldn’t help but feel a little…bored. So, if you like your grilled cheese stuffed with fried chicken, bacon, or a sweet cranberry & onion chutney then maybe Melt Shop is more in your lineup. However, if you’re going for the original, or something close to, then I think you should give ‘wichcraft Grilled Cheese & Soup a try.
‘wichcraft Grilled Cheese & Soup Kiosk, Bryant Park, 11 W. 40th street (at 6th Ave)