WESTERN FARE: The Butch Cassidy sandwich with Tater Balls. Photograph by Amy Buchanan
Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are all the rage, with more restaurants and food trucks popping up every day offering them. What’s important when making a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich is that, regardless of how far one strays from the American cheese, butter and sourdough formula, it’s still greasy comfort food. The Grilled Cheese Bandits, a new Wild West-themed food truck in San Jose, has taken that lesson to heart. Their sandwiches are, in fact, even greasier than I expected—which is a good thing.
The Jesse James ($9), for instance, which comes with grilled Black Forest ham and sharp cheddar cheese, is basted in truffle oil on a sliced baguette. It may be a few steps removed from the basic idea of a grilled cheese sandwich, but it was juicy and dripping with cheese, on the outside as well as inside. Similarly, the Butch Cassidy ($7.50) features provolone and Russian dry salami on San Francisco sourdough—and was a gooey delight. It is the perfect sandwich for anyone who likes strong-flavored salami.
The truck does, of course, offer a more standard grilled cheese sandwich. The Bandit ($4.50) comes with Monterey Jack, Parmesan and American cheese on Texas toast. However, one odd variation is that they do not just grill the outside of the bread but the inside as well, yielding a crispy top layer of cheese.
My personal recommendation would be the Sundance Kid, with a caveat—it is a messy affair. For $6.50, and available only at lunch, it is made with Gruyere and mild cheddar, is served on a single slice of sourdough bread and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Mine had an egg that was cooked perfectly, with just the right amount of runny yolk. Make sure to ask for a fork and lots of napkins.
For side dishes, they offer tomato bisque ($3), a tangy, creamy concoction that is packed with lots of basil and large hunks of croutons. Even better are the Mashed Tater Balls ($3), three balls of creamy mashed potatoes that are lightly crispy on the outside. The combination of chives and cheddar cheese gives the potatoes some needed punch. My only complaint about GCB is that everything was priced a little too high. I guess that’s what you get when you go gourmet.
Grilled Cheese Bandits
See www.grilledcheesebandits.com for a full schedule.