The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen Opens in San Francisco
One South Park (entrance on 2nd Street)
San Francisco, CA 94107
SAN FRANCISCO, May 28th , 2009 — THE AMERICAN Grilled Cheese Kitchen, the City’s only casual restaurant focused exclusively on creating the tastiest and most innovative grilled cheese sandwiches, will commence serving up winning recipes in South Park on Friday, May 28th, 2010.
The comfort food god has answered our prayers, and who knew she was a MIT engineering (both bachelors and masters) graduate and a National Grilled Cheese Invitational champion seven times over? Heidi Gibson, once a C-level business executive, now makes grilled cheese her business alongside Nate Pollak, her business (and pleasure) partner in their Americana-style eatery. There, you’ll find lots of organic fare, housemade sodas, and, of course, beribboned grilled cheese creations you won’t find anywhere else, past or present.
The menu, crafted by Gibson herself, includes timeless staples and seasonal specials all inspired by classic culinary combinations. For the purists, the $6 “Mousetrap” is basic by design but huge on hot, cheesy goodness: sharp cheddar, fragrant fontina, and melty jack on artisan sourdough. For those who want adventure, try the savory “Mushroom Gruyére.” With roasted wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, and gruyére melted into a thyme-buttered crunchy focaccia, this $9 sandwich is truly an umami-thon. And if you’re not drooling yet, the “Reubenesque,” a $10 Heidi-style interpretation of the classic Reuben, entwines hot, natural pastrami with gruyére, fontina, local probiotic sauerkraut, bread ‘n butter pickles, caramelized onions, and deli mustard on locally made New York rye. Now you see why she’s got seven trophies. And don’t forget the perfect sidekick to your hot toastie – a heartwarming, housemade smoky tomato soup designed for sipping and dipping. Many sandwich & soup (or salad) combos abound, so grilled cheese aficionados can get the warm-tummy-during-a-rainy-lunchtime experience many of us know – or remember – fondly.
In addition to the dynamic grilled cheese/tomato soup duo, THE AMERICAN’s fare includes signature items such as sweet and savory bread puddings and fresh-baked cookies. Even the breakfast menu – coming in late June – gets in on the cheesy action; among the other grilled cheese breakfast offerings lays the “Sunday Brunch” sandwich. Brie and seasonal fruit stuffed into challah French toast served with warm maple syrup on the side is an indulgent mid-week treat, indeed. But whatever you order, be sure to wash your meal down with a fresh-squeezed lemonade or a refreshing housemade soda served from a vintage-style soda tap. Ahhh.
And if you’re even in the mood for a “wet” lunch or early dinner – especially when you’re on your way to catch a game at AT&T park – pair your grilled cheese up with one of the featured wines or craft brews on THE AMERICAN’s wine and beer menu.
Bay Area restaurant designer Wylie Price (Presidio Social Club, The Monk’s Kettle, Fatted Calf Charcuterie) leads the design team for THE AMERICAN Grilled Cheese Kitchen. With an inviting walk-up counter featuring light colored tiles, weathered woods, and a Leave It to Beaver goodness, the restaurant evokes the timeless innocence of a 1950s American café. A wall concept piece saluting the “evolution of grilled cheese” created by local artist Drew Bennett ( HYPERLINK "http://iamdrewbennett.com" \t "_blank" iamdrewbennett.com) completes the experience.
THE AMERICAN Grilled Cheese Kitchen, at 950 square feet inside and 450 square feet on the outdoor patio, lives on a corner of One South Park, a historical landmark building in one of the City’s most beloved neighborhoods. Originally a tobacco warehouse, many of its early architectural elements were preserved in the ground-floor space, such as the freight-train tracks in the patio and lobby and arched windows that allow plenty of natural light.
The Joint Cheese-of-Staff
Heidi Gibson: Commander in Cheese. Heidi is the menu architect and co-owner of THE AMERICAN Grilled Cheese Kitchen. As the winningest Grilled Cheese Invitational contestant in history, Heidi dreamt up the concept of a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant after numerous fans, rival grilled-cheese chefs, sandwich judges, family, and friends encouraged her. Her culinary creativity stems from years as a competitive grilled-cheese chef. She also holds bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in engineering from MIT.
Nate Pollak: The Big Cheese. Nate is the hospitality manager and co-owner of THE AMERICAN Grilled Cheese Kitchen. After assisting in Heidi’s recent grilled cheese competitions, Nate made it his mission to pair Heidi’s culinary talents with a grilled cheese-deprived world. Nate helped pay his way though UCLA as an economics and classics scholar through multiple foodservice positions. Nate draws on these restaurant experiences as a host, server, and bartender/bar manager to create the nostalgic atmosphere at THE AMERICAN.
Rachel Schwartz: Toastmaster General. Rachel is the kitchen manager and overseas all culinary and kitchen operations at THE AMERICAN. She brings a lifetime of professional cooking experience to the Joint Cheese-of-Staff. She’s a culinary school graduate and boasts stars and stripes from various cook, pastry chef, and management positions with Marché, Bovolo, Dry Creek Kitchen, Zazu, Presidio Social Club, and La Boulange. Rachel also spent a good amount of time selling grilled cheese sandwiches to hungry concert goers when she followed touring bands String Cheese Incident and Phish. These experiences will surely come in handy.
Ray Tang: Culinary & operational consultant. Ray is a chef, restaurateur, and all-around food enthusiast who conceived and launched two of the most highly regarded restaurants in San Francisco and Sonoma Wine Country – the Presidio Social Club and Mariposa. After cutting his teeth in some of America’s most demanding kitchens, he currently heads Mad Hog, his San Francisco-based restaurant consulting firm.
Wylie Price: Designer. Wylie, who cooked and welded in his former lives, is trained as an architect and specializes in commercial foodservice and residential design. Some of his past projects include San Francisco’s Presidio Social Club, The Slanted Door, Out the Door, The Monk’s Kettle, and Napa’s Fatted Calf Charcuterie. See HYPERLINK "http://www.wylieprice.com" www.wylieprice.com for more information.
Dave Le: Branding and Design. For the last 13 years, Dave has been crafting award-winning design and branding solutions for Fortune 1000 clients and small businesses alike. He is also a professional photographer and master BBQ chef. To check out more of his work, see HYPERLINK "http://www.davelecreative.com"www.davelecreative.com.
Open for lunch service Monday – Friday from 11am-3pm, and will add breakfast and evening service in late June. Both indoor counter seating and outdoor patio seating; and children’s seating are available. The eatery is wheelchair accessible, and there is street parking (metered and non-metered). Major credit and debit cards are accepted.