Ever since I found about National Grilled Cheese month in March, I’ve been mulling over all the city’s grilled cheese offerings (at least the ones I know of!) and hemming and hawing over which one would be my first grilled cheese experience of this special month. I’ve had a few yummylicious homemade grilled cheese sandwiches at home (I made a grilled cheese, dill, and tomato on a crusty baguette a few days ago and a tuna cheddar melt on French white for lunch today!), but we’re talking grilled cheese outside my kitchen in TO. Introducing The Construction Site: Grilled Cheese at Work on Yonge & Eglinton!
The Construction Site at Yonge & Eglinton opened up late last year in 2011 and it is so, so cute. Not fa-la-la cotton candy cute, but clever and thematically cute! You can tell a lot of thought went into the particular look the grilled cheese spot was going for, especially in the details. First off, we have the decor and aesthetics. You won’t find anyone drilling or hammering away inside (thank goodness, could you imagine?!), but you will find construction-esque things like smooth wood pillars (donning the freshly sanded and primed look!) with nuts and bolts screwed in, yellow construction signs, and wooden frames showcasing pretty posters of cheese hanging on the walls. Oh, and the walls! Think of construction drafts and blueprints, but instead of floorplans and architectural drawings, we have outline drawings of sliced bread, swiss cheese, wedges of cheese, cheese graters, and slotted sandwich flipping spatulas on a pretty shade of pale cornflower blue wallpaper.
The scrapbooking, patterned paper lover in me hyperventilated. Can you tell I’m smitten?! I LOVED themed places! I love it when places brand their image based on, and according to, a specific theme and then run with it. It makes the atmosphere and overall look so much fun to work with and you get to be really creative when executing the details. My absolute favourite aesthetic detail about The Construction Site aside from the wallpaper is the food boxes. Forget the paper bag, styrofoam box and ho-hum take-out container – everyone gets their grilled cheese sandwich order in an adorable flat, square, cardboard flip-top box with a cute-as-a-button construction cheese sign sticker emblazoned in the corner! I was in conniptions over this!
Funny enough, I actually wanted to grow up to be a construction worker when I was in the 3rd grade. While many other friends wanted to be ballet dancers, models, makeup artists, and doctors, I wanted to build stuff, carry a toolbelt, and lay bricks. You guys know I don’t lay bricks (not real ones anyway – I lay Lego bricks with my boyfriend!), but I do construct things out of paper and have a scrapbook “toolbelt” at my disposable. That’s not too far off the mark then, right? I felt like I was on a construction site (minus the long, deafening clanging noises and hard hats), sitting on a workbench (or a crane on a sunny day) with my cardboard box on lunch break. Open up the box and there’s your lunch greeting you like an old, reliable friend. What a wonderful feeling.
What’s great about The Construction Site is their focused menu. It may not be extremely large, but I think that’s what makes it work. They don’t run themselves thin by offering too many items (and thus running the risk of not doing anything particularly well) and they have a specific set of meal items that they know they manage throughout the month. Month? Why “month”? Here’s how their menu works: there are 5 set grilled cheese sandwich menu items, a weekly grilled cheese special known as The Feature, and several other accompanying food items that can be ordered with your meal or separately on its own. These include soups (tomato with roasted pepper and feta and a soup of the day), a caprese salad, and even a fun s’mores dessert! Prices range from $5.50 to $10 and all grilled cheeses come with a side and a dip.
At the beginning of each month, their menu actually goes through a routine change where their least popular item is replaced by the most successful one run that month, all the while introducing a new item to enjoy each week. The Feature is a sandwich of limited availability though – if it runs out in the middle of the week, it’s done. To make things fun though, the last person who orders the special Feature of the Week gets to choose what next week’s feature will be!
What did I have to celebrate my first official special grilled cheese of National Grilled Cheese Month? The Cha Cha Cha! No dancing shoes or flirty costume; just a whole lot of ooey gooey cheese, creaminess, crunchiness, and yumminess! The Cha Cha Cha is The Construction Site’s 5th menu item and a weekly Feature from the past that was bumped up to monthly competitition status and I can see why! The Cha Cha Cha is a savoury grilled cheese with jalapeño havarti, savoury feta (yes, that’s right, TWO kinds of cheese!), avocado, and red onion on Ancient Grain Sourdough from Canadian artisan breadmaker,Fred’s Bread! All grilled cheese sandwiches come with a dip and your choice of either rosemary seasoned potato chips (Ruffles style) or napa cabbage salad. I had my Cha Cha Cha with a napa cabbage salad on the side and I was given a delicious tomato corn salsa dip to go with my sandwich and the whole meal was so fun, crunchy, melty, and delicious.
The grilled cheese was so good because it was so perfectly smooth and creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. If you shy away from hot and spicy things, you don’t need to be afraid of the jalapeño aspect. It’s more of a flavour impact than a heat one, so there’s no need to be scared! It was such an interesting combination because there were two types of savoury going on with both the havarti and feta in the same sandwich, but it worked. The havarti gave the sandwich more of that soft, warm buttery taste while the feta supplied the sharp, cured, briney flavour and the avocado functioned somewhat as a palate cleanser, allowing the flavours of both cheeses to shine without getting muddied up with one another.
My absolute favourite thing about the sandwich was how well the feta and red onion meshed together. I know we’re accustomed to having feta and red onion in Greek salad, but it totally worked with the sandwich because the red onion was diced so finely that it mixed into the creamy, warm, and smooth feta seamlessly. This integration toned down the spicy bite of the red onion which is wonderful because I know that it’s the red onion bite that turns many people off of it. And the tomato corn salsa for dipping? LOVE! It added yet another dimension of flavour (the sweet and sour kind)and come on, dunking grilled cheese into a dip is just plain fun. I found myself sporting the biggest smile after having this grilled cheese meal because it was so much fun and so delicious. I cannot wait to go back another time. The Construction Site has so much to offer and this post barely scratches the surface of all that I want to talk about, but it’s a great start! Next time: breakfast and a thorough look at the napa cabbage salad!
The Construction Site is a grilled cheese spot with two locations in Toronto: one in uptown Toronto and one in the west end in Sherway Gardens Mall. The uptown location is located at 2200 Yonge Street just off the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Eglinton Ave. They are open 7 days a week from 9am-9pm Monday-Saturday and from 10:30am-8pm on Sundays. They serve an all-day breakfast grilled cheese and plenty of other savoury options. They’re very present in the world of social media, so you can “Like” them on Facebook at facebook.com/grldcheese and follow them on Twitter @grldcheese.