A sprightly pink unicorn marks the entrance to the new location of the earthy, unexpected contradictions of the Grilled Cheese Gallery in Northwood. A unicorn is an imaginary, mythical animal – a horse with a horn – and it may even come in pink. The fact that they even call it a Gallery is also amusing, and maybe you even expect to see cheese in frames or in display in cases in this artsy neighborhood.
I frequently order grilled cheese with tomato in diners, there is a major comfort food factor in the gooey warmth, savory crunch of the bread and the richness of the cheese.
But the Grilled Cheese Gallery takes this comfort food into another strange world altogether, with names like The Mac Daddy, The Queen Brie and The Disco Poutine – try ordering that with a straight face. It’s a casual place, with a counter for ordering and a selection of seating options at tables, a long row of booths and outdoor settings. Warm wood covers the walls, and a long row of Warhol Marilyn Monroe prints line the walls, perhaps this is the gallery part. Warhol is great and all but down the line I’d love to see some local art show up here in this hood filled with galleries and great local artists. Maybe line up some of Erin Fromkes’s paper grocery bag paintings. Just a suggestion.
Back to the food – another major factor in a great grilled cheese is the bread, and the Grilled Cheese Gallery has rows and rows of bread on display – artisan white bread, sourdough, wheat and challah to choose from. I went for the most expensive thing on the menu – the $17 Duchess sandwich with lobster, three cheeses, chipotle, lemon Dijon cream on golden artisan bread. It reminded me of being back in the Hamptons in Long Island and ordering versions of a lobster roll around town, a lobster salad sandwich that cost about the same. This was a lovely sandwich, artfully plated on a platter covered in paper with swirls of sauce and dusted with herbs, plus a really satisfying thick cup of tomato basil soup for the full comfort food mojo. I could really taste the chunks of lobster and I liked dipping the sandwich into the pot of spicy cream. Spicy cream has changed my entire relationship to seafood lately, especially sushi, and it was delicious as a dip. It was a bit pricey but so filling I had the soup and half the sandwich and took the rest home to have for dinner with a salad.
To drink they have a selection of craft beers on tap, wine, plus house made hibiscus tea or raspberry lemonade, I had a plastic cup of each of the tea and lemonade, though at these prices a glass would be nice.
The main cheeses used are cheddar, gruyere and swiss, along with brie and gouda. I like the name of the multi-Euro cheese sandwich – A Night in Amsterdam. It reminds me of The Night in Mexico drink I had at Meat Market in Palm Beach recently – lots of nights with food and drink in other countries without leaving the county.
Other popular menu items at the Grilled Cheese Gallery include the Mac Daddy – two grilled cheeses dusted with paprika. Add house cured bacon – that’s some serious porcine commitment – and it’s a “Pimp Daddy”. The Hippie is for the organic set – veggie all the way with gruyere on sourdough with kimchi. You don’t see a whole lot of kimchi on main street restaurants, a Korean pickled cabbage dish that is like sauerkraut.
So since grilled cheese is what the namesake is, they make sure to cover the bases with savory, sweet, and complex layers of flavor over and above basic cheese and bread meets grill.
Another unusual dish is the selection of Poutines – a Canadian import made with French fries and cheese curds topped with gravy. That’s some seriously rich cholesterol plating right there, and Waffle House it ain’t. Cheese curds are the solid parts of soured milk. I imagine they have to explain what a Poutine and a curd is a million times a day, and admittedly I had to look it up, so kudos to the Unicorn for bringing in some newfangled creature comforts to mainstreet dining, The Poutines here are The Scarlett Poutine with grilled chicken, Sriracha aioli, jalapeno, red pepper and cheese curd; The Gallery Steak Poutine has hangar steak, carmelized onions, Swiss cheese, kale and gravy. The straight faced Disco Poutine adds tofu, carrots, pickled cucumber, kimchi, the Sriracha aioli, gouda and gravy.
The day I was there it seemed to be a lot of local business types looking for something new, fast and filling for lunch. The Grilled Cheese Gallery hits all these notes with a slightly offbeat menu, pulling in European and Canadian and Asian influences to produce something new and unusual out of quality basics. It feels like a bit of an uneven mix still, but having just expanded and opened in May, I’d say they are off to a cheesy horned start, oozing with possibility.
After leaving the Grilled Cheese Gallery I took a neighborhood stroll to the Recovery Thrift Shop and managed to snag a pair of drop dead canvas cowboy boots by a company called BonBon Boots. Intricate and imaginative, I was intrigued enough to look up the brand. Turns out they are designed right here in Palm Beach County by Bonnie Murphy.
These BonBon Boots Are Made for Walking
“I started BonBon Boots after I’d been looking for some new kicks that I could wear to work,” she says on her website bonbonboots.com. “And while I love the look, cowboy boots are sometimes heavy and uncomfortable. As a practicing physician, my new boots needed to be comfy, lightweight and cool, because I’m on my feet all day. After searching high and low, and realizing that there was nothing on the market, I decided to create my own line: a canvas cowboy boot with a flexible, rubber sole. However, while designing my own boot line was an exciting task, I knew I wanted more than just a boot. I wanted to design a boot with a cause. A boot that when consumers purchase them, they weren’t just purchasing a boot. They were making a difference. So, I carefully thought of each design pattern and decided to allocate each design to a different disease. Proceeds from each design will go to a specific disease research to help, “Boot the Disease”. BonBon Boots are designed for the stylish woman who love fashion, comfort and most of all, have a heart to make a difference.”
Check them out and get a pair. Eat, buy and wear local!