Melting Point

A homely sandwich gets top billing

When it comes to cold-weather comforts, few things quell a craving like grilled cheese. Although it may seem like an oversimplified concept to build a restaurant around, chefs across the country are hedging their bets on the straightforward childhood favorite.

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, which opened this summer in San Francisco, is the brick-and-mortar establishment of Nate Pollak and Heidi Gibson, who won the Grilled Cheese Invitational seven times before she took the leap by turning her passion into a business. Now she serves interpretations such as the Jalapeño Popper (chèvre, Monterey Jack, applewood-smoked bacon and apricot-jalapeño relish).

In Portland, Oregon, Steve Jones relaunched his cheese shop as a restaurant. Renamed the Cheese Bar, it serves a rotating list of grilled-cheese sandwiches, including Havarti with braised leeks.

At chef Daniel Angerer's new Little Cheese Pub in New York, cheese is embraced in many forms, including the Cheese Monger Grilled Cheese, which comes unadorned save for a house pickle.

And Los Angeles chef Eric Greenspan will build on his signature grilled-cheese sandwich from the Foundry on Melrose when he opens an adjacent quick-serve shop this spring called–what else?–Grilled Cheese. Until it opens, try making his version (pictured)–given a sophisticated twist with capers and apricots–at home (click here to download the recipe).

Editor's note: Little Cheese Pub has closed.