Culinary hyperbole is as much an occupational hazard as it is a way of life these days. In the race for web traffic, social media likes, and a desire to stand out everything becomes the best. The sense of discovery and wonder that drives me as a food writer is all too often lost in a sea of superlatives. So l when my dear friend and Astoria denizen Connie Murray started raving about a certain grilled cheese being the best, I took it with a grain of gruyere. After all how could good can a grilled cheese be?
I’d been to Astoria Bier & Cheese before. While the grilled cheese I tried was tasty it left my appetite for killer content unsated. “You know I think I’ve had this before,” I said to Connie of the Mr. Crispy ($11) as we munched on some excellent house pickles.
Like many a fancy pants grilled cheese the Mr. Crispy is served on a paddle-like miniature cutting board alongside more of those excellent pickles. As the menu promises the sandwich of cave aged gruyere, ham and honey mustard is coated in mantle of white crispy cheese. This coating extends outward into a golden lacy corolla, a veritable halo of crispy cheese. It’s crunchy, sharp, and eminently craveable. I’ve haven’t been this excited about fried cheese since Joe Bastianich’s ill-fated Frico Bar.
“I’m surprised they went with hippie bread,” I said to Connie when I finally managed to tear myself away from the miraculous sheet of fried gruyere. The sweetness of the oat pecan raisin bread plays nicely with the salty smokey ham and sharp cheese. Soon my attention turned back to the fried cheese, which I placed inside the sandwich itself. Magnificent!
“You know something, I’ve never had this before,” I said. “There’s no forgetting a sandwich like this.” I pondered whether any of the other grilled cheeses on the menu could even approach the heights of deliciousness Mr. Crispy attains. Having eaten and found out that the sandwich is worthy of high praise and hosannas, I propose a new moniker for this miracle of meat, cheese, and bread: Saint Crispy.
Astoria Bier & Cheese, 34-14 Broadway, Astoria, 718-545-5588