On the corner of 2nd and Pike in Downtown Seattle there is a magical truck that appears every Friday, like clockwork. This truck is named Monte Cristo and from it comes the most delicious grilled cheese sandwiches known to man (I know, bold statement). Monte Cristo Gourmet Grilled Cheese and Mobile Melts is the brainchild of Danielle Custer (formerly of TASTE at Seattle Art Museum fame) and her partner Royal Gunter. In a time where there seems to be a new food truck popping up every day, this one certainly stands out. There’s too much goodness to describe so I’ll get right down to business.
I was torn between the “Full Monty” Cristo (essentially a fried ham and cheese sandwich with powdered sugar, for those of you who aren’t familiar) and the special for the day, 5 Cheeses and Pickles. Monte Cristo’s version of its namesake sandwich comes with freshly squeezed lime juice (as opposed to syrup), which I am still dying to try. After asking for help with my decision, I was told by the experts themselves to go with the special, as they’re constantly changing. Good point.
For a pickle and cheese lover, this sandwich was a sight to behold. True to its name, my sandwich contained five cheeses: a sharp cheddar, a gruyère, a local jack called New Moon from Mt. Townsend Creamery (a personal fave), a provolone, and a green onion cream cheese. Count ’em. On top of this cheese heaven were Moon Brine “Pretty Hot” Pickles, all of which was served on buttery brioche bread. So warming, cheesy, and acidic with a bit of a kick from the pickles, which was fantastic. All sandwiches are served with kettle-style potato chips which I used to dunk into my Shot of Cream of Tomato Soup. (Side note: They also serve a Classic Tomato soup, made without cream. In my experience, cream usually makes things better.)
Several of my co-workers went the more purist route and ordered the #1 from the menu, “A Classic: Cheddar with a Little Twist.” Served on the same Macrina Bakery brioche bread (for those of you non-locals, Macrina is like the Poilâne of Seattle), the classic is made with Grafton Cheddar from Vermont, New Moon Jack, and gruyère and served with a side of Spiced Blueberry Au Jus. This sandwich really is a classic and was wonderful by itself, but especially good when dipped either in the tomato soup or the blueberry jam for a bit of a salty and sweet combination.
My manager, Bonnie, went rogue and ordered the #3: “Broiled and Melty” aka “Shrooms on a Shingle.” (I definitely prefer the second name more.) This is an open-faced sandwich served on a Macrina rosemary flatbread ‘shingle’ with sautéed mushrooms, béchamel, fontina, and Sottocenere (a truffle cheese!) Although I didn’t snag a bite of this one, Bonnie thoroughly enjoyed it. The one thing to keep in mind is that it’s a bit tricky to eat, as the toppings weigh heavily on the flatbread. Better to eat with a knife and fork, which can be difficult unless you snag a standing table spot or take it back to the office.
Last but not least, our dear friend Julia made the executive decision to get an order of the Fried Beecher’s Cheese Curds to share. Good God. Many of you are familiar with Beecher’s Curds already (and if you aren’t, familiarize yourself ASAP–they’re even in NYC now!), so basically multiply their natural goodness by ten and you get what I’m talking about. They’re lightly fried with herbs and served with one of two dips (she opted for the asiago). Ours lasted a total of about one minute between our group. These are very dangerous little suckers, and the best ending to a perfect lunch break.
A week later, in true Seattle form, it was lightly snowing and I peeled off on my way to work to try Monte Cristo’s new breakfast menu. I love a good sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich so ordered theirs (served on a cheese biscuit). I happily chowed down on it as I walked down 3rd Avenue until lo and behold, I am attacked by a seagull, Hitchcock-style, trying to swoop up my sandwich! (Yes, this actually happened.) While it was deeply disturbing, I honestly must say I can’t blame the gull for trying. But if he thought I was going to give up that sandwich without a fight, he clearly had no idea who he was dealing with.
Monte Cristo Gourmet Grilled Cheese and Mobile Melts, Locations Vary By Day (See Website), (206) 375.4639, http://www.mobilemontecristo.com, Breakfast on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7:30 am – 10:00 am, Lunch on Monday-Friday from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm