709 Packard Street
Ann Arbor, MI
Hours: Sun-Wed, 11am – 11pm Thurs-Sat, 11am – 1am.
The Short Course
To avoid wait: Much of their business is delivery so eating in shouldn’t be a problem.
Noise level: Low.
Bathroom amenities: No changing tables.
High chairs? No.
Got milk? No, but apple and orange juice is available, plus assorted tea, water and soda.
Kids’ menu? Not exactly. You can “Make Your Own” plain grilled cheese and kids may also like the mac and cheese or pizza sticks.
Anything healthy for kids? No freezers are used and all ingredients are fresh. That said, this is a grilled cheese sandwich shop!
Food allergy concerns? Gluten-free bread is available. No peanuts are used. Food can be cooked separately with clean utensils. As usual, inform the restaurant of your concerns ahead of time.
Sometimes I beg. Sometimes I mislead. Sometimes I drag.
What am I talking about? The strategies I use to take my kids to new restaurants, particularly those serving food they may not be used to.
However, it was easy to convince my kids, ages 11 and 8, to visit Grillcheezerie. The restaurant opened last fall, at the corner of Packard and State. It concentrates on grilled cheese sandwiches, a crowd-pleasing food if ever there was one.
Its hip, industrial interior probably appeals to the college students who dominate the area. It appealed to me, too, even if my kids are closer in age to college kids than I am. I liked the bright pops of color, the hand-crafted wood paneling and bar, plus the various booths.
At this casual, counter service restaurant, soup, salad and Michigan made products like Great Lakes chips and McClure’s pickles are available. My family of four had a plethora of grilled cheese options from which to choose. My husband selected the Leaning Tower of Cheeza ($8) with Italian sausage, mozzarella, provolone, broccoli rabe, roasted red peppers and garlic aioli. He added a side of roasted garlic tomato soup. I picked the Cordon Bleu ($7) with Swiss cheese, Dearborn ham and oven roasted, free-range chicken on white Italian bread.
While there is no kids’ menu, many items charm youngsters. My son, a less than adventurous eater, built his own grilled cheese with pepperoni, bacon and cheddar on Italian white ($8.25). My daughter, 8, couldn’t decide between the Pizza Sticks with provolone, mozzarella and pepperoni on white bread ($7) and the S’mac and Cheese, aka macaroni and cheese. We ordered both, since the S’mac and Cheese was considered a side ($4).
“Oh my gosh, these pizza sticks are so good!” my daughter proclaimed when we dug in. There was a nice proportion of cheese and pepperoni, plus a tangy, mild marinara for dipping. Her S’mac and Cheese, made with aged cheddar, gruyere, and asiago cheeses topped with mozzarella and house made bread crumbs, tasted rich. She ate about half before deciding she didn’t like the bread crumbs.
“We’re coming back here,” my son announced as he finished his sandwich. I took a bite of his creation before it was gone and was impressed that I could taste the peppery, meaty flavor of the bacon. My Cordon Bleu was pleasing. The chunks of chicken were plentiful and in perfect harmony with the mild, sweet Swiss. My sandwich came with a small serving of tomato soup for dipping. Heaven on a cold night!
The sausage, broccoli, cheeses and vegetables in the Leaning Tower of Cheeza were “delicious”, per my husband. I snagged a bite and agreed. I could also taste the sweet and savory garlic in his roasted garlic tomato soup.
As a treat, the kids got hand spun shakes for dessert: cookie monster for my daughter and orange cream for my son. “The best thing ever,” commented my daughter. “Better than the mac and cheese.” She listened to her body (thankfully!) and could only finish half of the rich, sweet shake.
“Like it fell out of the sky from heaven,” my son replied when I asked how his shake tasted. He listened to his body too and finished the whole thing in less than 5 minutes.
Don’t let the college kids be the only ones who enjoy Grillcheezerie. If you can’t make it to the restaurant, there’s always delivery. For a $2 fee, Grillcheezerie will deliver its cheesy goodness to those within a 3 mile radius.