A couple of people called last week to tell me that Cheesehead Homemade Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches at 16th Street and Grand had closed. I walked by the joint, and that certainly appeared to be the case. Also, the phone number is no longer in service.
I'm not surprised. The product never lived up to the promise of "gourmet" grilled cheese and was expensive to boot. The last time I stood in line to order a sandwich, several months ago, the two staffers working behind the counter were so disorganized, rattled and clumsy that, for a minute, I thought I was watching an old TV rerun of a Three Stooges short. And the dining room could only be described in the immortal words of Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest: "What a dump."
The next time I'm craving a serious grilled cheese, I guess I'll have to drive over to the new Happy Gillis Café & Hangout (see review, page 33) to sample Todd Schulte's version: two slices of Farm to Market bread, aged cheddar cheese, nutty gruyère and caramelized onions. At six bucks, it's not cheap, but it is kind of gourmet.
If you want cheap, there's the $2.25 sandwich — basic American cheese on white, wheat or rye — at Winstead's. Gourmet, it ain't. Ditto the no-frills grilled cheese at Town Topic (2121 Broadway), which costs $2.10. A step up in class: "Jake's Three Cheese Griller" at McFadden's Sports Saloon (1330 Grand) in the Power and Light District. That hefty number has provolone, gruyère and fontina with fresh tomatoes and basil on wheatberry bread. It don't care that it's not really good for you — it sounds healthy. It runs about $7.50, but it does include a mess of healthy french fries.
Sharp's 63rd Street Grill (128 West 63rd Street) does a nontraditional version on the theme, too: slices of tomato, feta cheese and mozzarella on sourdough. It sounded as if it might have been salty, but it was actually very good. The Cheesecake Factory (on the Country Club Plaza and at 6675 West 119th Street in Overland Park) serves a more standard version, but it's on egg bread. The price includes fries but, alas, not a slab of cheesecake. Which would be a whole different story.