It is the meal that defines a childhood. It is the perfect combination. It is grilled cheese and tomato soup.
I savor nostalgic memories of my father melting a slice of Kraft American cheese between two pieces of Wonder Bread and serving it with Campbell’s tomato soup. Those days are now long gone, and the grilled cheese has had a serious upgrade since my grade school years. Since the Grilled Cheese Truck became one of the most popular food trucks in Los Angeles, there has been an ongoing battle between restaurants to whip up the best melty, heart warming creation. Now, I don’t have to go home to get my favorite childhood meal. In fact, the best grilled cheese is right down the road in Silver Lake.
Upon entering Heywood: A Gourmet Grilled Cheese Shoppe, my olfactory senses heighten. A sweet aroma of sharp cheddar and melting butter fills the small sandwich shop. While all of their sandwiches sound delectable, I order their specialty, “The Heywood:” a grilled cheese with two-year aged English cheddar and caramelized onion confit between pieces of sourdough bread. I also order mine “inside out,” with additional toasted cheddar on the outside of the bread.
Other sandwiches include blue and Fontina cheeses, truffle oil and even homemade habanero jam. The “Bon Appetite Brie” has a triple creme French brie melted into cinnamon infused raisin bread with an organic fig jam and topped with raspberry sugar crystals.
My Heywood grilled cheese is perfectly constructed. Caramelized onions add sweetness to balance out the sharpness of the cheddar. Ordering mine “inside out” was definitely a good decision. The added crispiness brings a whole new layer of well balanced texture and compliments the sourdough well. The soup is clearly not an afterthought, with hints of red bell pepper and garlic that add an extra trace of tanginess. I dunk my sandwich in, and the two create a masterpiece of perfectly balanced flavors.
While my Heywood was flawless, the Caprese grilled cheese that I sampled was not. The dish was bland and tasted more like a glob of mozzarella with uncooked tomatoes rather than a freshly prepared Italian-inspired panini.
Fortunately, vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free folks can also enjoy these tasty treats. Heywood boasts vegan cheese, gluten-free bread and even dairy-free, vegan-friendly butter. For around $11 anyone can come grab a bite at Heywood, even in the wee hours of the morning. For those attending shows at any of the nearby venues in Silver Lake, grilled cheeses are available Thursday through Sunday until 3 a.m.
This post was originally written for and published by the Occidental Weekly.