The highly anticipated Grilled Cheese Truck finally rolled into town tonight and due to my frightening obsession with cheese, I made sure to greet the truck. In the tradition of other great ks before it, the unveiling took place at The Brig on Abbot Kinney. I arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled 8:00 start time and was shocked to find the parking lot at The Brig empty except for the shiny orange truck. Apparently, I was to be the first in line!
Within a few minutes, other people formed a line behind me, assuaging my fears that this was some sort of well-coordinated, but cruel joke played on me. As 8:00 rolled around, someone asked when the truck would open, only to discover they weren’t really expecting to open until 8:30. Patient and unwilling to give up my prime spot, I continued to wait. I was glad I didn’t leave, because my hanging around gave me the chance to meet Zach Behrens, editor for LAist. He gave me a little interview, which should probably be popping up on LAist soon. But back to the truck.
Finally, 8:30 arrived and one of the proprietors of the truck came outside to announce that technical difficulties were hampering the preparations of the mighty grilled cheese. One of the griddles wasn’t working, so with heavy hearts and even heavier anticipation, we realized we would have to wait even longer.
Then, something magical happened. Rather than face an impatient mob, the workers (including someone’s elderly and incredibly sweet parents) started handing out samples of what they could prepare on a single partially-functioning griddle. First came the soups, which I politefully declined since they were vegetables like tomato and pumpkin. Then came the tater tots. These were nice and crispy, but a little bit too salty. It definitely saved me the trouble of having to order my own side of tater tots.
As more time passed, they brought out the mother of all samples, the Cheesy Mac and Rib. This little delight was filled with mac and cheese, plus BBQ pork. In two bites I was finished and knew I would have to order a full sandwich with that.
Finally, around 9:30, a mechanic came and went, signifying the real melt was about to begin. I sauntered over to the window to finally place my order. Although my Cheesy Mac and Ribs sample didn’t have carmelized onions, the menu said it came with them, so I first ordered one of those without the onions. Unfortunately at some point between dishing out the samples and taking my order, they had combined the onions with the meat, creating a concoction unfit for an unvegan. As a replacement, they suggested bacon, and I didn’t argue. In addition, I ordered a regular cheddar grilled cheese with bacon and a dessert grilled cheese, which was made of a roasted banana puree, Nutella and marshmallow. The woman taking my order asked how many people were in my party and I laughed as I told her all that food was for me.
The bill came out to just under $20, which was a little sad, but then I did order three entire sandwiches. The strange part was that the prices didn’t include sales tax. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a mobile eatery that didn’t just include sales tax in the prices, and a fear that dealing with copious amounts of change will hinder the efficiency of their operation. Nonetheless, my order was in and although I was first in line, I was given the number 6 and a coupon for half off next time to thank me for waiting.
When my number was called, I dashed over to grab my sandwiches. They were packed in convenient little foil bags, which I rapidly tore open to begin eating. I started with the Cheesy Mac and Bacon. It was pretty darn good, but not as good as that onion-free sample of Cheesy Mac and Rib I tested out earlier. After taking that sandwich down, I moved on to the Cheddar and Bacon, which was grilled perfectly, but couldn’t compare to having mac and cheese in a sandwich. Finally came the dessert melt. This was the least tasty of the lot. The bread was kind of dry and the insides were a bit overwhelming with sweetness (yes, it is possible).
Overall, the sandwiches showed that the chefs had a great understanding of how to use the griddle. Each sandwich was grilled to a crispy perfection and I know that despite the relatively minor maintenance issues, the grilled cheese truck has a bright future on the streets of LA. Especially if they can separate their caramelized onions from the BBQ Pork!