You started a new diet? Excellent. I saw on Facebook that you got a 5-mile bike ride in, too. Congrats. Lost a pound last week? I can totally, totally tell. Hey, did you drop a size?
Maybe Grain & Dairy isn’t for you, the rabidly health-conscious, the person for whom a fun snack consists of mashed avocado on whole-wheat crackers, the person who passes on dessert.
For the rest of us, the latest grilled-cheese shop to open in Tarrant County is another reminder of what it was like to be young, before we were terrified of calories and milk and what other people think of us.
Opened two months ago by Texas Tech grad and Haltom City native Josh Rogers, this latest gourmet-ish ode to a favorite childhood food occupies a small strip-mall spot in Hurst.
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Inside, it’s refreshingly oblivious to current design trends. No rustic this, no industrial that. Rogers subscribes to a less-is-best aesthetic: Seating is composed of simple aluminum chairs and tables against a backdrop of pinewood slats, hand-cut by Rogers himself, all perfectly lined in horizontal rows along each wall.
Any seat in the dining room will afford you a view of a cool, colorful mural done by Rogers’ sister-in-law, who I suspect is a fan of psychedelic rockers the Flaming Lips.
Displayed on an overhead video screen, the menu features 10 signature sandwiches, made with a half-dozen different breads supplied by Esmeralda’s French Bakery in Dallas, as well as 11 varieties of cheese, eight meats and many not-the-norm toppings like honeydew and asparagus. There’s also a build-your-own option.
Sandwiches are cooked in an open kitchen, allowing you to witness the hiss and pop of the grill, then delivered to your table.
The quality of the sandwiches hinges on how well potentially dissimilar ingredients work together. Whoever dreamed up the prosciutto and melon combo ($8) made a good call: Thinly sliced prosciutto, ripe melon and Havarti cheese was a salty and sweet delight, made even more so by the thick sourdough bread, perfectly toasted.
All of the ingredients were grilled together, however, and it might have been a bit more enjoyable if the melon weren’t hot, sapping some of its crunch and flavor.
A Caprese grilled cheese ($7), on Milano bread, was nicely done, decorated with leafy basil, tomatoes, balsamic and melted mozzarella.
Those working the grill showed remarkable skill at knowing when to pull the sandwiches off. Cheese was still melting when the food hit our table, seeping out of the bread slowly.
On both sandwiches, the cheese-to-bread-to-toppings ratio wasn’t quite even — plenty of the former two, not enough of the latter. It was like 1979 and you’re buying a new Firebird but the radio doesn’t have a cassette player. It’s cool but it could use a little bump.
Although unquestionably appealing to those with a nothing-to-lose disposition in life, the grilled cheeseburger grilled cheese ($8.50) is best left untouched. Locked between two slabs of melted cheddar and Gouda, a thin patty of meat was bone-dry, and it lacked seasoning. Also lacking were any other toppings; it was just meat, cheese and brioche bread.
Lest you think it’s all caloric indulgence, take note of the likable avocado salad ($3.50 as a side, $7.50 for an entree), scattered with soft chunks of avocado, corn and firm black beans. It could have used an extra shake of lime juice dressing.
Also for those cognizant of waist-management, there’s a terrific chilled peach soup ($1.50-$6), boasting a sweet-and-spicy punch and texture reminiscent of another memory from our youth: applesauce.
An old couple sat next to me and shared a root beer, their two straws coming from the same bottle, and dessert: a mercilessly sweet Nutella grilled cheese ($4.50), stuffed with cream cheese and the popular chocolate-hazelnut spread. Those are my kind of people.
Grain & Dairy Gourmet Grilled Cheese
- 1222 W. Hurst Blvd., Hurst
- Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily