Short List: Grilled cheese

A great grilled cheese is something you build memories around. I can still taste the grilled cheese I’d nibble on as a kid in between dips in the pool during steamy St. Louis summers and, come winter, the one I dunked piece by piece into a bowl of thick, creamy tomato soup. The bread, sliced thick, slathered in butter and toasted to a brownish-black perfection. The cheese, a spectrum of bright yellows and deep oranges that oozed from the bread’s crisped corners. The perfect grilled cheese is a heavenly ratio of bread to butter to cheese that can trigger even the most forgotten of childhood days. Better get your bib out – this one’s gonna get greasy.

Schlafly Bottleworks
7260 Southwest Ave., Maplewood, 314.241.2337

Chef Josh King has figured out a way to pack so much flavor into so few ingredients, he should be given some sort of medal. The best part: He works all that lip-smacking magic with just the cheese itself. By adding bold smoked Gouda to mild Provolone and super-sharp Cheddar, he created a bacon-like smokiness without pushing it into the meat section of the menu, and thus crafted an utterly addictive flavor combination. Smashed inside two thick slices of Companion’s bistro Pugliese and given a few minutes on a hot grill, this is a crispy, melty success.

8143 Maryland Ave., Clayton
9781 Clayton Road, Ladue, 314.352.4770

Anyone can add another slice of bread to a sandwich and call it improved. But when Companion piles on three slices of its thick, buttery brioche and toasts each layer until it reaches peak crispness, double-decker becomes something to aspire to. Thick slices of tomato add welcomed sweetness to the sharp Cheddar and sour Swiss comprising each layer, but what truly sets this grilled cheese apart from its peers is the ooze factor: A rainbow of silky orange and white ribbons flows freely from the sandwich’s corners, inviting bite after bite of sweet, salty, cheesy deliciousness.

Winslow’s Home
7213 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.725.7559

The version at Winslow’s Home takes things down a notch in the best way possible. A mellow mélange of creaminess comes from layer after layer of soft, white cheeses including white Cheddar, Fontina, Gruyère and mozzarella. The mildness of the cheeses leaves room for the bread to take center stage – and boy does it. Brushed with just a touch of butter and dusted with beautiful bits of thyme confetti, it adds an herbal and delicious layer of flavor that truly dances across your tongue.

To see this month's Short List Runner-Up, click here.