Throwing in the Towel

There are few things I enjoy more for lunch than a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. The grilled cheese is indeed a classic lunch, and one that is so popular that the Whole Foods down in my part of the city has started grilling them up to order during the Tuesday lunch rush. So I was baffled and disappointed when the GrrChe truck made a special trip to Harbor East and never drew a crowd. At least, not when I was looking. Which is truly disappointing because these guys offer something unique albeit off the beaten path.

GrrChe visits Harbor East. Harbor East does not return the favor.

Maybe it was the location. Around the corner on Central Avenue certainly seemed like a viable location. It's close to the office buildings on Fleet Street yet not directly in front of the Bagby Restaurant Group. Curbside Cafe was there every week and developed a regular following.

Maybe it was the infrequency of visits to this location. The trucks that have done well in this neighborhood have had a regular schedule. Curbside Cafe was every Tuesday. IcedGems is every other Friday.

Regardless of the reasons, and despite the undisputed quality of their food, I feel as if I must now accept what the owner of GrrChe may have already figured out. With the plethora of established restaurants and a high degree of competition for the corporate lunch crowd, Harbor East may no longer be a viable venue. Not just for them. Perhaps not for any of the trucks. We haven't had a regular lunch truck since the Sliver Platter moved out to the county. My coworkers and I can talk about how much we miss the food trucks, but if we don't patronize them when they stop in our area, we will lose them all for good.

Which is a shame, because they truly add value to Baltimore's restaurant scene. Especially the ones that take an otherwise standard lunch item and bump it up a couple of notches. Trucks like Haute Dog, Souper Freaks, IcedGems, Kommie Pig, and GrrChe make lunch a little more interesting when they appear on the scene. I have held firmly to the belief that there is room for everyone in Baltimore's food scene - the restaurants, the food trucks, everyone - and that we can all get along if everyone just agrees to. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case.

That being said, here's what I had for lunch.

Despite my fondness for the traditional grilled cheese and tomato soup, a classic that GrrChe has certainly perfected, today I ventured over to their specialty menu. This menu is made up of grilled cheese with a twist: Grilled cheese with a crab cake, grilled cheese with pulled beef, and - my new favorite - grilled cheese with jalapenos.

Specialty menu

Called the Jalapeno Popper, it combines the elements of a jalapeno popper with a grilled cheese. Roasted jalapenos, cream cheese, pepper jack cheese, and bacon on sourdough, this was both creamy and hot and provided sufficient buffering to the belly. While the cheese peppery flavor and a warmness in my belly lingered into the afternoon, there were no repercussions felt as the day wore on. My only regret is not asking for tomato on it.

The Jalapeno Popper sandwich - spicy creamy perfection

My professional colleagues do not know what they missed today, especially since the apparent small draw may not encourage them to come back. It is with a great sadness in both heart and stomach that I admit defeat. I will continue to watch the food truck scene in Baltimore, if only from afar.