The Ultimate Grilled Cheese

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Greens – San Francisco, CA

As vegetarian places go, Greens is way up there for me. And a huge part of the reason behind that is this sandwich alone. It is so damn good we bought the cookbook right there on the spot, just so we could replicate it at home. It’s fontina with marinated cremini mushrooms and harissa on a bread that knows how to be the man behind the man.

Beecher’s – New York, NY

Figs, honey and cheese are like the Three Musketeers of deliciousness. And Beecher’s puts them together in proportionate perfection on a raisin walnut bread that only adds to the party. I know it sounds so stupidly simple that you could even make it home, but as I have said more times than you would probably care to hear, simplicity is the root of greatness.

Melts – Armonk, NY

Similar to Beecher’s, this place is a treasure trove of grilled cheese greatness. But once you sift through all of the treasure you will come upon the Hope Diamond of grilled cheeses, The Heat. Made with home pickled jalapenos to get that perfect level of spiciness, cherry peppers, Sriracha and muenster. It will melt your heart, along with your tongue.

The Mermaid Inn

568 Amsterdam Ave. New York, NY 10024(212) 799-7400 themermaidnyc.com

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Hi. My name is Ferocious Foodie. And I too am a Mermaid lover. In fact, I don’t think I’ve loved a mermaid this much since Ariel, The Little Mermaid. From the first bite (well, technically “sip”) to the last, everything was great.

The wife and I both started with cocktails. I partook a pair of Pink Dahlias, which sounds more fru fru than it is. It’s actually a spicy margarita with grapefruit. Tart, refreshing, spicy and perfecty. Can’t recall what the wife had because I’m a typical, self-absorbed male, but I know she liked it because I asked… So I’m not a total schmuck.

Everything else we shared, to a symphony of simultaneous foodgasms. The octopus was tender with a nice contrasting char for texture. And it was dressed with wonderful flavors that netted out a touch sweet, but in a good way.

The oysters were fresh an delicious. We did the Kusshi, which, if you’ve never had them are so sweet you’d think they were candy. And the Mermaid Cove, which were delightfully creamy. Great combo for those who don’t dig on the brine.

For entrees we split the lobster “sandwich” and the fish tacos and the reason “sandwich” is in quotes is because it’s a lobster roll. Not sure why they don’t call it that. I’m assuming there’s no copyright infringement since about 1000 other places call it that, but whatever. Maybe that’s not how they roll… oof. Even I cringed on that one. But cast your cringes aside, because the roll/sandwich thingy is up there with the Ultimates. Quite handily better than Luke’s down the street and as good as Pearl Oyster Bar. Yes, I said it. Just not quite as big as Pearl’s though, making it a bit pricier per ounce. But like Fancy Feast, it’s worth it. And truth be told, Mermaid’s fries are better.

The fish tacos were mighty fine as well, adorned with pickled jalapenos and a side of handy fresh made salsa. Together they made for sloppy, fishy bliss.

And finally, for dessert, there is no menu. They simply bring you an espresso cup filled with chocolate pudding and call it a night. No charge. Just as a thank you. Well, Mermaid, thank YOU for a wonderful meal. My only regret is having not tried you sooner.

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Melts

144 Bedford Rd. Armonk, NY 10504(914) 219-5995meltsny.com

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Melts is on fire. Only three weeks old and this baby is already walking. And by walking I mean kicking- of the ass variety. The brain child of two brothers who obviously loves themselves a good melt, they manage to pack a very tight menu with so many damn good sounding options I  didn’t know which two to split with the wife so I asked one of the owners. He recommended The Heat and The Wisconsin Patty Melt.

He was right. Both were excellent, but apples and oranges apart. The Heat, aptly named, was spot on. Taking it right to that threshold where flavor spicy ends and painful spicy begins, but without crossing it. So what’s in it? Well, first they pickle their own jalapenos specifically so they can control the aforementioned spice. Then there’s cherry peppers and Sriracha mayo- oh and cheese, of course. Munster to be precise.

The Patty Melt on the other hand is basically a burger in disguise, who are we kidding. That said, it’s one bitchin’ burger with smoked Wisconsin cheddar, apple wood bacon, BBQ sauce and crispy fried onions. One of the best burgers- er, melts in the area.

But speaking of superlatives, let’s take a moment to reflect on the tater tots. Yes, this newcomer just dropped an Ultimate like it was nothin’ but a thang. So deceptively simple, yet so unique at the same time. Crispy on the outside, almost creamy-mashed-potato-like on the inside and sprinkled with salty parmesan. So good we devoured them before they even had a chance to cool down from mouth-burning-hot.

The only misses for me, and by that I just mean “eh,” would be the desserts. The kids obviously horked them down, but to the more discerning palate the Rice Crispy Treat, chocolate chip oatmeal cookie and the sugar cookie don’t hold a candle to the rest of the show.

As for décor, it’s in a charming little house just off the main drag in Armonk. And as you step inside, you are instantly hit with even more charm. From the cheese grater light fixtures to the do-it-yourself old-fashioned icebox in the corner for some refreshing Arnold Palmers, you just can’t help love the cheese whiz out of this place.

And what’s especially nice, is that the owners are nice. Two great guys with a great concept on their hands. I sincerely hope they soar. And that I can still get a table.

P.S. Upon return I tried the namesake “Melts” and it is very close third of awesome. Whereas the Philly Cheesesteak, while good, is a distant fourth. Planning to go back several more times, so stay tuned for the rest.

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