As soon as I walked into the Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co. in Somers Point, I thought, “Boy, this is the kind of place Guy Fieri would love.”
That thought barely had a split second to cross my mind before I looked up at one of the restaurant’s televisions to find a permanent loop of Fieri toasting a storm here in an episode of his TV show flagship “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Needless to say, this is a fun place to eat, in the most American way possible.
But, for a place with a very specific sounding name, the Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co. certainly has plenty of menu options. Everything from macaroni and cheese and bowls of chili to homemade soups, salads and even coconut and almond crusted shrimp landed on the menu here, alongside the obvious selection of grilled cheeses and entrees. crab based.
Although I love a good crab cake, there are tons of places in South Jersey where I can grab one. But a decadent gooey grilled cheese is a little more of a rare treat. They had several signature versions listed on the menu here, all of which sounded great, including one created by Fieri himself called “The Triple D Melt”, which included smoked gouda, smoked bratwurst, onion rings, fried eggs, pepper jack cheese, jalapeños and sriracha.
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It was tempting, but not as tempting as the possibility of creating my own grilled cheese masterpiece, which I did. The options are almost endless, which means it took me a while to select the right additions, but in the end I settled on a mix of smoked gouda and American cheeses, onion rings , BBQ Chicken Tenders and Mac & Cheese All Texas Toast with a side of coleslaw. Here is what I thought of it:
The bread: Thick, buttered, and toasted to perfection, the Texas toast made a shiny outer layer for my massive sandwich mess.
Meat: I often add a splash of barbecue sauce when making macaroni and cheese at home, so I felt like these chicken tenders, which were coated in it, would play nicely with the cheesy goodness of this sandwich. I was right. And the sauce added a nice flavor and a bit of sweetness to counter all the heaviness of the other ingredients.
Cheeses : The smoked gouda and the American were both tasty, and I thought they would be, because the best grilled cheese sandwiches always contain more than one cheese.
The Vege: I am of the opinion that vegetables of any kind have no place on a grilled cheese sandwich, and if you disagree with me, you are wrong. That said, I made an exception for the onion rings, as they were obviously battered and fried, removing any traceable shred of nutrients of any kind and thus fitting the theme of a grilled cheese perfectly. They also added a nice touch of crunch and flavor.
Supplements: Mac and cheese might seem gratuitous on a sandwich that already has a starch and two cheeses, but I don’t mind that kind of irrelevant detail. Thing is, the mac and cheese here was anything but perfect – creamy and rich and just what was needed to put this sandwich on top. I also added a side of coleslaw which did a really good job of providing a purple colored break from the richness of the sandwich. Light and not too much mayonnaise, I was glad I added it at the last minute.
The essential : I didn’t need Guy Fieri’s help to welcome me to Flavortown at The Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co. The fully customizable sandwich menu made it easy and fun to make, and in the end the sandwich that I ordered was awesome.
But I will admit that the only downside to loading your grilled cheese with various ingredients is that it becomes less of a “grilled cheese” with each one you add and more of a simple “grilled sandwich” that contains cheese.
So yes, the familiar toothy feeling of biting into toast in melty cheese heaven is absent when you go this route, but it was obviously my own decision this time. I have a strong feeling that a simple grilled cheese here would also be amazing, but in a totally different way – and I’ll be back to try and prove it very soon.
The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Co. is located at 55 W. Laurel Drive in Somers Point. Go to GrilledCheeseAndCrabCakeCo.com.