Not that anyone needs to be reminded, but April is National Grilled-Cheese Sandwich Month. In honor of this auspicious occasion, we bring you our picks for New Yorks best grilled cheese, from Keller-crafted high to Kraft-oozing low.
1. Bouchon Bakery
Thomas Keller, the best grilled-cheese man in town, eschews Kraft Singles for a pungent combo of Fontina and Gruyre that melts surprisingly well. But what really distinguishes this sandwich is the almost unnaturally uniform golden-brownness of the thick-sliced brioche bread. Like Mom, chef Keller serves it with a nice cup of tomato soup. $12.75; 10 Columbus Circle, at 59th St., third fl.; 212-823-9366.
2. Joe Jr.s
This is a great example of the classic version, and the reason why grilled cheese, unlike ham salad, say, is worthy of National Month sandwich status. Its made on a seasoned, grease-soaked griddle with a choice of Swiss, American, or Cheddar (get the American), white bread, and tomato and bacon if you like. Its best enjoyed at the Formica counter while perusing the Yankees schedule posted on the wall. $3.85; 482 Sixth Ave., at 12th St.; 212-924-5220.
No one smooshes bread and cheese in a panini press the way ino does. They use three type of cheese crotonese, cacio, and grana and add a judicious drizzle of truffle oil. $9; 21 Bedford St., nr. Downing St.; 212-989-5769.
The only upscale cocktail bar we know with a menu almost singularly devoted to grilled-cheese sandwiches. Our favorite is the classic American (pictured) gently tweaked with a dab of herb mayo and fresh basil and served with, yes, tomato soup. Pair with a Dark and Stormy. $12; 165 W. 26th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-627-8320.
The thinking mans grilled cheese: Fontina with black-trumpet mushrooms and white-truffle fondue on Pullman bread. $9; 60 E. 8th St., nr. Broadway; 212-942-4272.
6. The Green Table
Haute Barnyarders are not immune to the pleasures of the grilled-cheese sandwich: This ecologically minded Chelsea Market restaurant gets its raw-milk Cheddar from a small Vermont farm, and if thats not local enough for you, the excellent sourdough bread comes from Amys across the hall. $10; 75 Ninth Ave., at 15th St.; 212-741-6623.
Using an English farmhouse Cheddar (Keens or Montgomery) might detract somewhat from the national part of National Grilled-Cheese Month, but this is still a fine sandwich, and its redeemed by excellent Wisconsin bacon and thin slices of Granny Smith apple. $14.50; lunch and brunch; 2 Park Ave., entrance on 32nd St.; 212-725-8585.
8. Little Giant
Ample smears of whole-grain mustard and a strategic smattering of pickled curry tomatillos take this hefty Gruyre-Cheddar melt from simple to sublime. $11; brunch only; 85 Orchard St., at Broome St.; 212-226-5047. Rob Patronite & Robin Raisfeld