A friend of mine once said that at most, you could add tomato or bacon to a grilled cheese sandwich. Anything further and you've got a different sandwich.
Beyond the cheese and bread, it is also loaded with pulled pork and dressed up in jalapeno aioli. But even the cheese ain't yo mama's grilled cheese, unless your mother is Czech. The half-inch-thick slice of jack is breaded and fried like smazeny syr, a traditional food available on most street corners in Prague.
"We wanted to have something that was different from a standard grilled cheese," Brick 29 chef Greg Lamm said. "But we also wanted something that could be cooked faster. A standard grilled cheese has to sit on a flat-top for awhile."
Lamm said they got there by a lot of experimentation. They'd heard about a food truck in Chicago that used battered cheese, so they decided to give it a shot, going through 10-12 versions before eventually settling on tempura batter.
Piled high on white bread just barely too thin to qualify as Texas Toast, the sandwich is about as much a grilled cheese sandwich as it is a brick of lasagna.
But putting sandwich theory aside, what matters here is taste. And strangely enough, for a sandwich so loaded with delicious-sounding goodies, the flavor of B29 Streatery's grilled cheese is oddly neutral. Weighed down in breading, the jack cheese doesn't stand out in the way the Streatery's cheese fondues do. The pulled pork isn't wet or bland, but the smoky flavor doesn't pop on the white bread. The majority of the seasoning comes from the aioli, which is lightly spicy and creamy.
But what really stands out about the sandwich is its heaviness. Mayo. Pork grease. Butter. Cheese. And the freshly fried potato chips it's served with certainly don't help much. Real meat-and-potatoes chaps and chapettes may not mind the Streatery's grilled cheese, but this reporter felt a little queasy after such an intense gut bomb--though it might really hit the spot after a night of heavy boozing.
Traditional grilled cheese or not, the Streatery's sandwich is not for the faint of heart--nor those with a heart condition. But if you're in the mood for a deep-fried adventure into the conceptual, then game on.