Lee's Grilled Cheese ~ Fort Worth, Texas
January 2014 update: We went for lunch on a Monday and the place had a line to the door, and almost no tables available. These guys are clearly onto something here. Investors should be lining up to expand their concept. We tried the mac n cheese as well, and it's delicious. Reminds me of my Dad's old recipe.
When the RJG was 6 years old, grilled cheese sandwiches were my favorite meal. The RJG's Mom had one of those old 1960s metal toasters, with a tray on the bottom to make things like grilled cheese. Often the sandwich would be served along with a bowl Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup. Now that was a lunch right there! With both those items to be devoured, and a Bugs Bunny cartoon in front of me, the little RJG was a happy camper.
Of course it should be noted that the cheese used was those manufactured industrial pre-packaged slices that probably have everything but real cheese in them. Ah, but what did I care? I was 6.
Presumably Lee's Grilled Cheese is a bit more robust than Mom's metal toaster version. And indeed it is. Lee's Grilled Cheese is the latest in innovative restaurant success stories. They parlayed their success as a food truck into an actual restaurant (and the truck is still active and mobile). Food trucks are all the rage today in the culinary world. And it completely makes sense. They're mobile, and the startup costs are minimal. And it's a great way to focus on your core competency. When you're in a food truck court, you don't have to be all things to all people. If you want to serve nothing but grilled cheese, then no one is going to complain why you don't offer more items. I never visited the truck (and food trucks in general are something the RJG needs to get on board with, but just haven't found the time for), but I'm guessing the restaurant has added a bit more variety.
Lee's Grilled Cheese isn't really that much different from a Panera Bread for example, except the focus is on the variety of cheeses (9 different ones) rather than breads. The bread is pretty straight forward. Two big ole slices of white bread, perfect for grilling just right. As well they offer 6 meats and a variety of other condiments to round out the sandwich. Of course they offer some standard combinations, and as such the RJG went with the Cuban Pete which is Swiss, Black Forest Ham, Pulled Pork, mustard, and pickles. Then the employee who took our order said "it will be ready in 10 minutes". That kind of surprised me, especially since it wasn't crowded, but as I thought about it, the only conclusion is that is the time it takes to grill both sides of the bread just right. So while it's not exactly fast food, it's very clear that Lee's Grilled Cheese is taking this very seriously. And for that, I applaud them greatly. The Cuban was delicious, with the bread having the right amout of crunch, and excellent browned goodness. I was very delighted with the pulled pork. Many BBQ places can't get this right, and yet Lee's version is excellent - with the right texture and flavor. In conclusion: It is the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had.
Mrs. RJG was with me as well, and she had the Tomato Mozzarella which features said cheese with Basil Pesto, Spinach, and Fire Roasted Garlic Tomatoes. She had half the sandwich along with the Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. Both were delicious according to my better half.
I think it's clear at this point that the RJG will be back. I think they have a winning concept here, and hopefully they'll be able to expand. About the only thing holding me back from more visits would be the location (as in it's too far away) - but they have to start somewhere. And I'd say they're onto something big!