Grilled Cheese DC not gouda-nough

April 24, 2014

Muriel Van De Bilt

I don’t often think about class warfare while eating grilled cheese. But as I bit into an artisanal sandwich oozing Grilled Cheese D.C.’s custom Gruyere blend, bourgeois offenses were all that crossed my mind. Although toasted in a Turbo Chef SOTA convection oven—an exquisite piece of equipment that costs upwards of $7,800—this sandwich could have been baked in a cramped dorm kitchen. Plenty of restaurants in D.C. do the simple-turned-fancy concept wonderfully, but GCDC is not one of those places. The new grilled cheese joint is filled with promise, but unfortunately, fails to execute an otherwise excellent idea.

After pushing open the restaurant’s heavy glass doors, I was greeted by a wall stacked high with rows of decorative Wonder Bread-esque loafs. Bottles of red wine were scattered among the white bread, lending a sophisticated feel to the simple sandwich staple. GCDC’s menu mirrors this aesthetic, filled with items like the savory Kim-Cheese-Steak sandwich and the sweet Torched Grilled Cheese.

The food itself, however, is less inspired than the menu. Highly recommended by several servers, the tater tots simply fell flat. GCDC does the classic potato side two ways: American, with cheddar sauce, bacon, jalapeños, and onions, or Canadian, with melted cheese curds, bacon, and a house mushroom gravy. Baked like a casserole in a small, shallow plate, the tiny serving of greasy tots hardly justified its $10 price tag.

Part of the GCDC concept is letting adults enjoy kids’ food in a chic atmosphere, so a carefully curated beer and wine list adds character to the restaurant’s nighttime offerings. The house cocktails stand out for their creativity as well. The D.C. Honey Dew combines chili pepper infused vodka with fresh melon, mint, and lime juice. I tried the Four O’Clock Bourbon Tea, with cardamom bitters, Earl Grey simple syrup, and lemon juice. While strong, the whimsical teatime drink tasted nothing like its ingredients. The lemon juice overpowered any trace of the bitters or syrup, leaving me with an expensive but basic whiskey sour.

Breaking through all the uninspired food and drink were the small garnishes that accompanied GCDC’s dishes. The golden sesame crisps and spicy pickles decorating the cheese plate packed strong flavors and satisfying textures. Yet, the care put into these details never reached the larger plates.

GCDC’s concept isn’t unique, making its failings even more disappointing. Also a fan of the trendy acronym, Dupont’s GBD, or Golden Brown Delicious, is an example of dressed-up food done right. Their gourmet doughnuts are covered with innovative glazes, and the restaurant’s homemade spiked punches pair well with kid-inspired plates like the Tendie Lunchbox. To succeed in this play on simple, classic foods, a restaurant can’t take itself too seriously. And with a resident cheesemonger, GCDC forgets the grilled cheese’s proletariat roots.



1730 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Mon.-Fri.


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