Nothing excites me more that CBA has opened a location on Belmont, less than a half-mile from my Wrigleyville apartment, except maybe the homage to grilled cheese and all it’s glory across the street, at Cheesie’s. Running with a theme lately, I’ve set the intention to eat at a certain favorite of mine, this case being Chicago Bagel Authority, when suddenly something new catches my eye. Something enticing, bewildering, threatening my relationship to the aforementioned favorites. When this happens, you must resist the urge to stay the course, do not be a creature of habit, be a species of inquisition, of exploration. That is precisely what I am, a culinary adventure seeker.
Conveniently located in Central Lakeview on the very busy east/west street called Belmont Avenue, Cheesie’s takes up a narrow facade just west of the Belmont El station, across from my coveted CBA. This place reminds me of a million pizza and sandwich shops in New York. It’s tiny, very narrow, with a full view of the grill and the chef extraordinaire. Providing some color and laughs, there are 5 large, square paintings, all spins on classics, except theirs has Mona Lisa with cheese on her chin. I stared at them as I sniffed the buttery air. An ideal lunch spot, Cheesie’s is providing their take on an American classic, the grilled cheese sandwich.
Proudly serving 7 unique, original concoctions, in addition to the Sandwich of the Month, this ode to all that is dairy comes served the best way I can imagine, on Texas fricken toast! I always feel so white trash because I love Texas toast so damn much. Maybe it’s my time served in Dallas, my secret country roots, or the fact that it’s slathered in butter and then grilled, but I truly cannot imagine a better way to surround cheese, meat, condiments, breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is the way. Many sandwiches come served with their own, thoughtfully prepared dipping sauce. For some, it’s tomato soup, the jelly to the grilled cheese peanut butter. For others, it’s pesto or chipotle mayo. For any of the 8 scenarios, the sandwich and it’s partnered dipping sauce are excellent, as individuals, and even more so as a pairing.
On this particular lunch in question, I selected the Caprese grilled cheese. Mozzarella, basil, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, on sourdough Texas toast with the option of dunking it into creamy pesto mayo oblivion, and washing it down with a carbonated beverage made for a very cheerful afternoon. My usual suspects in food-related crime were my handlebar mustache man, and the tall, skinny kid with glasses. Those descriptors tell you all you need to know. They both ordered the jalapeno popper grilled cheese. They do this a lot, ordering the same item, and it annoys me, as I like to share. Bite, bite, pass. Nonetheless it was fricken good; real good.
We rubbed our bellies, moaned about a million times, flatulated a bit (Cheese can be rough on their sensitive systems. Also, flatulated is a word. Just trust me.), and waddled home. I ate every single bite of that oversized, generously stuffed sandwich. I liked my lips, fingers, resorting to a napkin only once, and left Cheesie’s knowing it wouldn’t be long until I returned. Once again, in this wonderful food city, I was a happy camper.
Instead of spending money at the grocery store on boring bread and Kraft cheese, saunter on down to a local eatery, chuck 5 or 6 bucks their way, squeeze your American body down the narrow corridor to a high table and enjoy what will seem like a simple, some might say boring lunch, and be pleasantly surprised and downright blown away.
Texas can be bat-shit nuts. Their toast is in a good way. Eat some with cheese between it. And other good ingredients. You’re welcome. Enjoy.