For me, there’s a certain nostalgia associated with grilled cheese and tomato soup.
This combination reminds me of warm comfort food on cold winter evenings. It also reminds me of awful school lunches, which almost turned me completely away from tomato soup. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I checked out Tom and Chee, the new grilled cheese-based restaurant in Fort Collins.
This restaurant, which offers unique grilled cheese sandwiches, dessert grilled cheese, a selection of soups and more, opened this summer on Harmony Road, across from the Front Range Village shopping center. The restaurant was originally created in Cincinnati and began as a food truck. The restaurant grew after exposure on the show “Shark Tank” and has been featured on several shows since.
The restaurant creates all of its sauces from scratch, and offers gluten-free, vegan and other allergy-free options. Customers can choose from a menu of “fancy” sandwiches, or they can choose to create their own. The restaurant also offers different tomato soups and daily soups, salads and their most unique collection: the doughnut grilled cheese sandwiches. All of this comes wrapped up in an aesthetic that gives a feeling of a step above your average fast food place.
Walking into the restaurant, I was greeted by large, brightly-colored menus printed on the walls and a bright yellow and red color scheme. There were info-graphics printed on many of the walls, describing the story of Tom and Chee and welcoming me into the restaurant.
I ordered a custom sandwich: white bread with cheddar and American cheese, diced tomatoes and basil pesto (based off my own personal recipe) as well as a cup of chunky tomato basil soup and a regular fountain drink. The total was just under $10, which was well within my college student budget. I also brought a friend with me, who ordered a strawberry lemonade grilled cheese doughnut and a drink as well. We got our order number and grabbed a table to wait for our food.
The food was quick to arrive and looked absolutely fantastic. Despite the fast food feeling of the restaurant, the food was enticing and well above what I expected. However, appearances only mattered so much, and the only real way to judge the food was to dig in.
My sandwich was wonderful. Grilled to perfection, with just the right amount of tomato and pesto, I was instantly reminded of my mom making grilled cheese for lunch when I was younger. The cheese, which is from Wisconsin, according to their website, was extremely high quality, and led to the sandwich having fantastic flavor. The sandwich was well-sized and filled me up quite well when paired with the soup.
In contrast, I was unsatisfied with the chunky tomato basil soup, which promised a subtle garlic flavor along with a hope to avenge my dislike built from school lunches. The main reason I’m often wary about ordering tomato soup is that it can be very acidic, which ruins the flavor for me. This soup was one of those times, and my attempts to eat it had me feeling worse for wear. On its own, the soup was disappointing at best, but it did work very well as a dipping sauce of sorts for the sandwich. I’d be curious to try the non-chunky soup, to see if the flavor is improved. After finishing my meal, tasting the dessert sandwich was the final judgement.
At first, I was unsure about a grilled cheese between two halves of a doughnut. My experience with doughnuts as buns has been limited to hamburgers, which is unique at best, and can be an unusual mixture of flavor.
The strawberry lemonade grilled cheese doughnut, which contained strawberries, candied lemon, mozzarella and lemon mascarpone between two halves of a doughnut, satisfied my sweet tooth instantly. The dessert sandwich not only looked fantastic, but it also had me taking bites as slowly as I could in order to enjoy it as much as I could. I fully agree with the sign on the menu that says, “This will change your life.” Never again will I doubt the satisfaction that is Tom and Chee’s grilled cheese doughnut.
Side soup: 4/10
Grilled cheese doughnut: 10/10
Final Score: 8.3/10
Altogether, I was extremely satisfied with my visit to Tom and Chee. Though the soup brought back some unpleasant memories, the sandwiches and the restaurant’s experience itself are absolutely worthy of a visit. I’ll be sure to check out some more of the menu next time I visit.
(For anyone who is still curious, Tom and Chee is short for Tomato and Cheese. It may have taken me a little while to figure that out.)
Collegian Reporter Chapman W. Croskell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Nescwick.