The American Grilled Cheese

24 07 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value:4/5
Times Visited: A Few  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes!

This super-cute, San Francisco-worthy restaurant can be found serving up gourmet grilled cheese every day of the week just next to South Park at 2nd Street in SOMA. When a friend of mine first heard that I was going to be working in SOMA and that I’m a veggo, he promptly took me to The American. And for that, I am grateful.

The American is in a cute homey place with framed photos adorning the walls, lots of counter stools, and outdoor seating. They specialize in grilled cheese and make ‘em better than mom used to (sorry mom, but they’ve got Gruyère cheese, you know?). I love specialty shops like this that serve one thing and serve it with pizazz. And I love the word pizazz, just to let you know.

The majority of the menu consists of about a half-dozen grilled cheese sandwiches of different varieties (traditional, with ham, Mediterranean style, etc.) and a few soups and salads. In many respects I love a small menu because it makes choosing easier and quicker, and it gives me a feeling that the food they do offer will be done right. At The American, this holds true.

Granted it’s difficult to screw up a grilled cheese, but still. Fresh sourdough, melted cheeses, and add tomatoes or pickles for 50 cents each. Each order includes a piece of fresh fruit that seems to change with the seasons (it was strawberries the first time I went, an orange the last) and you can add a side salad or yummy tomato soup to put a bit more oomph into your lunch if you so choose. And, they have fresh lemonade and, I believe, a “lemonade of the day” every day. Yum!

On my last visit with Sean and Ryan (who insisted on being mentioned; I nearly had to fight them out of the photos) there were three sandwiches at the table: mine was the Mousetrap, the most traditional menu item with cheddar, havarti, and jack, to which I added pickles and tomatoes. It was crispy, crunchy (almost too much actually; I had the familiar soreness on the roof of my mouth reminiscent of childhood club sandwiches…), and deliciously cheesy inside.

Sean’s Piglet sandwich is a twist on a traditional ham and cheese using Tillamook sharp cheddar, artisan cured ham, apple mustard, and rosemary butter. He only had good things to say… between bites.

Ryan was a man of few words (I was only just getting to know him), but he seemed to enjoy his Feta Fetish sandwich that bypasses the traditional grilled cheese for a bit of Mediterranean flair: Crumbled feta, fontina, roasted eggplant, zucchini, and red bell peppers, Italian spices, and garlic butter. Yeah, yum.

And while no one ordered it this trip, I feel I would be remiss not to mention the Mushroom Gruyère sandwich which is totally amazing: fontina, Gruyère, roasted wild mushrooms + gold potatoes, melted leeks, caramelized onions, and thyme butter. This was the first sandwich I had from The American, and it totally got me hooked. So go ahead everyone, eat cheese and be merry.

Here is The American on Zagat:

My writeup of The Mousetrap sandwich was also featured on HeardAbout.com

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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