Green gets gooey

The thing about grilled cheese sandwiches is this: even when they’re bad, they’re good. It’s hard to mess up a dish that hinges, literally, on bread and cheese.

The thing about grilled cheese sandwiches is this: even when they’re bad, they’re good. It’s hard to mess up a dish that hinges, literally, on bread and cheese. You are talking to a grilled cheese aficionado from way back: as a child, my go-to order from McDonald’s was the toasted cheese: two hamburger buns turned inside out with standard American cheese slices wedged between, then slapped on the grill. Now, they don’t like making it (but they will with a side of exasperation), and it’s not on the menu (though it should be) but it will change your fast food order forever.

roam_2So, when a quick-serve grilled cheese shop opened just over the Summit County border this spring, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had a hankering for its gooey griddle fare. Tom+Chee (short for tomato soup and grilled cheese) first hit my radar during a season four episode of Shark Tank back in 2013. Not only did founders Trew Quackenbush, Corey Ward (and their wives, Jenn and Jenny) score an investment deal with real estate mogul shark Barbara Corcoran, but following the airing, their website exploded with more than 9,000 inquiries from potential franchisees. What started with a pair of friends serving sandwiches under a tent in Cincinnati six years ago has now flourished into a fast-growing franchise empire, with a planned trajectory of opening stores at a rate of one per week.

Let’s get back to the food. During my visit, my date and I tried a “build your own” sandwich with two varieties of “fancy” cheese, goat and fresh mozzarella, plus diced bacon on hardy white ($6.45). Diced is an inspired way to serve the bacon—ensuring each biteful is flavored proportionately—but the cheese was almost overpowered at times, a difficult feat when working with a sharp and pungent cheese such as goat.

We also enjoyed a Pep+Chee ($5.95), basically a pepperoni pizza-style sandwich with mozzarella, pepperoni and marinara (two of my favorite dishes unite!). We ordered a pair of soups for dipping, both the classic tomato and the creamy tomato basil, and the “soup dipper” portion (in other words, just enough to use as a pseudo sauce for your ’wich) is such a smart idea that I can barely stand it.

roam_3Both sandwiches were good, but not better than you might make at home. And for a dinnertime visit, the meal left me hungry for more. The thing to remember is that this is fast casual—good fast casual, but
fast casual nonetheless—so despite fresh ingredients and creative sandwich options, it’s not true gourmet, like, say, Melt Bar and Grilled. The sandwiches aren’t epic, but they are tasty. There are endless combinations. You can double-decker them, add crunch via potato chips, and throw some mac and cheese in the mix. The counter staff was friendly, the sandwiches and soups came out to the table fast and hot, and the entire operation is professional in the way you would expect a more seasoned multi-state chain to be.

So while I wouldn’t necessarily drive to Green just for Tom+Chee, I definitely will make a return visit, and on that visit, I will refuse to leave without experiencing a grilled cheese donut in a sweet and savory concoction. The Choco Bacon Bliss (hello, chocolate mascarpone!) has my name written all over it.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass