Who doesn’t like a good grilled cheese sandwich? Grain & Dairy Gourmet Grilled Cheese owner Josh Rogers has parlayed what he sees as the general public’s desire for home-style comfort food into a cute little sandwich shop in Hurst. Rogers has worked almost every restaurant job out there –– from bartender to general manager –– mostly here in Texas (most recently at Bird Café) but also as far away as Pittsburgh. The Haltom City native said he selected the location for his new place in part because the city’s zoning restrictions recently changed, allowing more nonindustrial businesses to join the Bell Helicopter complex on the food desert stretch of Highway 10 in Hurst.
[box_info]Grain & Dairy Gourmet Grilled Cheese
1222 W Hurst Blvd, Hurst. 817-616-3062. 11am-9pm daily. All major credit cards accepted.[/box_info]
The sheer variety of sandwiches on the menu will stump anyone ordering at the counter: The grilled cheese can be made with meat, veggies, or au natural. The Purist (cheddar, Havarti, and Gouda cheeses on sourdough bread) combined smoky flavor (from the Gouda) and creamy texture (from the Havarti). The name is misleading –– the Gouda elevated the basic cheese sandwich, providing the essence of smoked meat. If you’d rather have a plain grilled cheese, stick to the kiddie version, or hope a create-your-own option becomes available soon.
The Caprese grilled cheese was a nifty take on the classic Italian salad. Fresh mozzarella cheese melded well with sliced tomato, a thin layer of basil leaves, and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar between two slices of thick Italian bread. Kudos to the cook for getting the thicker bread toasted without liquefying the mozzarella or burning the basil. The BBQ Brisket Sandwich included cheddar, American, and Havarti cheeses along with chopped brisket on a brioche bun. Of all the bread options, the brioche tasted best. But the sweetness of the bun obscured the subtle differences between the cheddar and American cheeses. However, the Havarti was a lovely, gooey addition. All the different variations of bread were buttery (like Texas toast) and perfectly grilled.
Each sandwich comes with a ramekin of tomato soup for dipping. The extra-thick consistency made the dip more like a marinara sauce. It was delicious in small quantities, but I’m not sure I’d want a whole bowl of it.
The chilled peach soup seemed like a good option on a warm summer day. It was savory rather than sweet, but unfortunately, the aggressively peppery flavor made the cup almost unpalatable. Like apples, peaches tend to oxidize, and the end result was a pretty unpleasant color of brown. Rogers and staff deserve credit for trying –– their adventuresome take on a gazpacho-type soup is usually attempted only at restaurants like the Kimbell Art Museum’s café or Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine, not at sandwich joints.
Grain & Dairy’s mac ’n’ cheese was another culinary misstep. The orecchiette pasta was swamped by a too-thick sauce of Gouda, mascarpone, and Parmesan. The chunks of bacon were pleasant, but the slivered sun-dried tomatoes did not add much to the overall effect. Additionally, the desiccated tomatoes looked disappointingly like bacon in the bowl, which caused confusion and sadness.
Because one can’t live on carbs alone, there are several salads on the menu. The cauliflower and quinoa salad with sliced sun-dried tomatoes and chunks of feta cheese was refreshingly tasty, almost like tabbouleh with a little extra crunch. I wished that the cauliflower had been cooked a little more, but on the whole, the clean, crisp flavors of the salad did a lot to clean the palate.
There are three dessert options on the menu, but the Nutella grilled cheese is not to be missed. I know I was eating a sandwich on a brioche bun, but seriously, the thing tasted like a donut with the perfect amount of cinnamon sugary crunch. Rogers said he spent a significant amount of time perfecting the ratio of Nutella spread to cream cheese, and he finally created the perfect ending to a nice meal.
Grain & Dairy offers plenty of vegetarian options. And although there are bottled Dublin sodas, wine, and beer, there are no cups of water. The sandwiches came out like orders at a sushi place –– whenever they were ready. This was fine, as each sandwich was perfect on arrival, but it takes longer to make a sandwich on thick brioche than it does on thin sourdough. But in a tiny, scratch kitchen, the pacing of the food presentation can be forgiven. My table of three ate more carbs at one sitting than usual, but there was no carb regret at Grain & Dairy.
Grain & Dairy Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Cauliflower quinoa salad $3.50
Mac ’n’ cheese $5
BBQ brisket grilled cheese sandwich $9.50
The Purist grilled cheese sandwich $6.50
Nutella grilled cheese $4.50