here i was, planning to do this whole review in lower case letters as an homage to cheesme's name, and lo and behold, upon retrieving the business card from my wallet, i see that the sign is written in ALL CAPS! I CAN'T STAND THE THOUGHT OF WRITING THE REVIEW LIKE THIS. so, why was i under the impression that the name was written in lower case letters? maybe because that is how they wrote it on the facebook fan page. come to think of it, "facebook" is written that way, too. the words look friendlier like that, for some reason. eat it, miami. EAT IT, MIAMI. see, it makes a difference. it looks like i'm yelling at you in the latter version.
Enough of that silliness. So, some friends of some friends opened "cheesme grilled cheese and fry bar," which to me is enough distance that I felt I could check the place out and give it a fair review. I'm not a real journalist, but I think there's a certain amount of objectivity that is expected from people when they read a stupid blog like this.
I must admit that I was skeptical of the concept for the restaurant. Fancy grilled cheese? Uh, people will pay a lot for that? That's the kind of meal you make when you're broke and all you have in the fridge is some slices of yellow American cheese. It's somewhat similar to The Cereal Bowl, in that respect: paying a premium for a normally budget food product.
Ah, but I was forgetting the X Factor, or S-E-X Factor, if you will. Chicks universally love the idea of a grilled cheese restaurant! Therefore, men will want to go, too. That's the idea behind ladies nights at bars. Same thing. Except, instead of booze that makes women fat, it's fried meat and cheese sandwiches.
I am told the dessert menu will include doughnuts. Great. At least women work out here, rather than covering the extra stuff up with sweaters and corduroy like they do in Boston. They don't even shave their legs during the winter up there. Gross. My posts seem to have taken sort of a misogynistic turn lately...
As usual, it's taken me forever to get around to actually reviewing this restaurant. South Florida Daily Blog will no doubt take exception to this. I contend that my humorous anecdotes and hilarious digressions are what keep my readers coming back by the tens! My readership is vast. I had a visit from Malta recently. That's, like, totally far and stuff.
So, around 930 on Saturday, a few friends and I found the entrance around the back of some crappy club on the corner of 12th and Washington on South Beach. I don't know what the club is called, but it has like an A and a V or something stylized like that on the glass. Never been inside and I don't know anyone who's gone there or talked about it, but I'm 30, so I probably don't know what's cool anymore anyway.
The entrance is a set of concrete stairs to a side door that appears to be the old emergency exit from the kitchen of the attached club (which was probably a mediocre Italian restaurant at some point). I have to tell you that, in August, it feels like you're hanging out in a kitchen when you get there. I'd advise you to dress in linen pants and tank tops, maybe. Ladies, the skimpier the outfit, the better. For your own good, don't do anything stupid like wearing leggings. Those have to be out of style by now, don't they? And I hear it gets really, really warm when club and restaurant people get off work in the wee hours and fill the place up.
A funny story that my spies told me is that on a recent evening, when cheesme was packed with that industry crowd, a rather homely, single man (the type who should make you nervous at your place of work or yoga studio) wandered in, blabbing about how he was the son of one of the founders of Five Guys. He proceeded to claim that cheesme's creators had ripped off the concept and menu from Five Guys, then left and returned with two grocery bags full of burgers to serve cheesme's customers some "real food." I think this is a case where violence might actually be the answer. The man clearly has a small, you know, penis and serious self-confidence issues. I hope he doesn't read this.
I'm not really sure what cheesme and Five Guys have in common, other than the fact that they are both places where people go and pay to eat food that restaurant employees have prepared for them. I don't know how long Five Guys has been around, but maybe they invented that concept. And what menu items do they have other than burgers and fries? Don't get me wrong. I like Five Guys. A lot. I ate at the one in Jupiter on Saturday afternoon. It was the very thing I ate prior to my meal at cheesme. How ironic [note: I only use "ironic" incorrectly, since that's what everyone else does].
At cheesme, they have every kind of cheese you could imagine putting in a grilled cheese sandwich (and some you wouldn't, like you know, fancy French ones). They also have lots of different types of bread. I ordered the "Shorty," which is braised short ribs with blue cheese and roasted red peppers on pumpernickel bread. Mmm! You can either choose a menu sandwich or select a meat, a cheese and a bread. A typical sandwich costs between 12 and 14 bucks.
My buddy Larry made his own creation which was a kobe burger with honey mustard and I-forget-what-cheese on a croissant. We had to take him for angioplasty immediately afterward, but he enjoyed eating it.
The sandwiches have so much flavor, that it's funny to watch people take the first bite and see (and hear) their reactions. I think that, for people who really love eating and preparing food, one of the main reasons they do it is to see others' enjoyment.
Upon entering the space, I had turned to my friend Dre and said "sweet, this is like hanging out in the kitchen of a restaurant," to which he replied "that's exactly what it is. We're in a restaurant kitchen." Oh, right. Got it.
Randy and Rush, the guys in that kitchen and whose names suggest they might be twins, are more like bartenders than cooks that are hidden in the nether regions of a long, skinny chunk of South Florida real estate. It turns out that Randy likes to call them "foodtenders." The whole thing is really quite clever. Even the name "cheesme" is a play on words. "Chisme" is a Spanish word that can mean "gimmick" or "gossip."
I wish them luck because I think this could really be something.