The Mach 3 of Grilled Cheese: Two Halves Not Enough at the Standard
For such a simple sandwich, there have been plenty of attempts to experiment with the classic grilled cheese over the years. At One Lounge in Dupont Circle, for instance, chef Christoph Marquette serves up an exceptionally buttery version with tomato and a side of bacon marmalade—much to the dismay of vegetarians for whom the sandwich is the usual default order.
But not even the most exciting fillings could compare with the true joy I felt at the sight of three slices of grilled cheese. That's right, three.
I tucked that oddity in the back of my head and slammed crusty, cheesy bites into my mouth. The sandwich, by the way, combines Fontina, Swiss, cheddar and slightly aged goat cheese surrounded by farm bread (white, with a sourdough start), fried in butter in a large, cast-iron camping griddle craftily positioned where grill grates would be. If you're wondering where that other half goes, it doesn't exist. Standard uses three slices of bread, two are sandwiched together and the other is cut in half for that special third slice.
With the number three still bouncing in my head, I called Standard co-owner Tad Curtz to figure out the reasoning for the prime-numbered sandwich.
"Why is the grilled cheese served in three?" I asked Curtz. He laughs, and lets out a long "ummmm" and then repeats the question out loud. "Well, there's not really, like, a simple answer," he finally admits and then opens his mouth for another exaggerated "Ummmmm."
"Well, I sort of feel like when I opened this restaurant people thought I was crazy and everything I did here was weird to people. When I was working on my menu," he then explains, trying different breads and cheeses, and finally answers, "I felt like two halves weren't enough."
I strongly agreed with his statement, telling him how very I excited I was by the sight of three slices. But then the 31-year-old kept going: "There's an article in The Onion that mocked the Gillette Mach3. It said something like 'We're not going to do Mach 5 , we're going straight for Mach 6. Fuck it.' I went straight for three. Fuck it."
Photo by Stefanie Gans