The “Not-So-Perfect” Cheesie’s Pub & Grub

Photo: Annalise Frank

(This article was featured in our print issue, which was published on Nov. 10, 2012.)

As an adamant cheese fan, I had high, high hopes for Cheesie’s Pub & Grub, a Chicago grilled cheese restaurant that recently opened a location in downtown Evanston.

The waitstaff is nice enough, and I guess they serve beer and stuff, but being under 21 my only stake in this late-night hub was the prospect of the perfect combination of dreamy cheese and a crunchy casing of bread. So I headed there the first chance I got.

Cheesie’s Chicago website proclaims their sandwhiches to be “the perfect grilled cheese.”

No. I refute this claim. If MacDonald’s made grilled cheese, it would taste exactly like Cheesie’s (and be cheaper).

The price

My disagreement with Cheesie’s is simple: if I’m paying more than 5 dollars for a grilled cheese sandwich, it should be gourmet. Sure, they do offer off-the-wall combinations of add-ins, most notably “The Tenderizer,” packed high with cheddar and mozzarella cheese, hot sauce, bacon, fried chicken tenders and barbeque sauce on Texas toast.

But that sandwich costs $8.50, and I’m incapable of consuming only one item so I have to get some homemade soup on the side. By the time you get soup and a drink, you’re looking at a bill over 10 dollars. If I’m going to shell out that much cash, I’ll want to splurge on some Joy Yee’s or Thai Sookdee, where my payment will be compensated with leftovers, at least.

The food

So, being cheap but refusing to eat only cheese, I went with “The Classic,” a simple grilled sandwich with Merkt’s cheddar cheese, American cheese, tomatoes, ham and bacon on Texas toast, and I got a cup of French onion soup and a drink as part of a combo.

The soup came in a tiny cup, and though the broth’s flavor was solid, the croutons were mediocre and the cheese wasn’t melty or incorporated – it sunk to the bottom as chewy, flavorless chunks.

As for the actual grilled cheese: Merkt’s cheddar cheese spread is amazing, as any Wisconsonian will tell you. However, what I ate was devoid of any sort of interesting or noteworthy flavor like Merkt’s. If I wanted American cheese, lukewarm ham and plain, doughy white bread I could steal my 8-year-old cousin’s lunchbox. For the price of a never-ending mound of Joy Yee’s chicken, I want some fancy ingredients. If I’m looking for a greasy mound of yellowish grub at 3 a.m., I can do it three times cheaper at Burger King.

Basically, Cheesie’s, stop straddling the status quo and create something interesting. You bore me.

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