It was a chilly Tuesday evening and darker than it should have been for so early in the season, the kind of setting that calls for a glass of dark booze and something decadent and cheese-drenched to induce hibernation. There's a decent, nondescript bar near my apartment that offers a super cheap grilled cheese during happy hour; it's no frills, just cheddar and jack cheeses on sourdough from a nearby, OG bakery.

I ordered, trying not to seem too eager with my frequent glances to the kitchen—and then it was time. The bartender brought over the red plastic basket, I greedily reached past the checked paper and pulled out...a mother fucking toasted cheese sandwich.

I'm not prone to ranting unless I'm a few whiskies in and some stupid sexist crap gets shoved in my face. But cheese, I take very seriously, especially when butter-soaked fingers are all but guaranteed when ordering a grilled cheese sandwich. That's the fundamental difference between a grilled cheese sandwich and impostors like the one I was grasping in my now shaking fingers. I need that grease, I need that buttery crunch, I need THIS:

(Scott Lynch/Flickr)

Is a grilled cheese even a grilled cheese if there's no butter and/or mayo element to lubricate the bread? I say no and cry foul to those who would seek to trick someone into thinking otherwise. Cheese toasties are a "thing" in some parts—the UK according to some surface-deep Googling—but here in #America we need to add calories wherever possible, hence liberally buttering the outside of each slice.

For proper Maillard reaction, cooking methodology comes into play, too. Surface contact should be ensured over at least 75% of the bread for maximum butter browning, meaning GTFO with your toaster/oven method that results in dry bread that cuts the crap out of my mouth. George Foreman grills and panini presses are fine, too, as long as I hear that sizzle when the hot iron meets the lubed up bread.

Morris Truck (Don/Foursquare)



The Queens Kickshaw (© Bradley Hawks)



Little Muenster (Michelle Y./Yelp)



In conclusion, when you see something (a toasted cheese), say something (in a ranting blog post). If butter-free is the way you want to be, that's your prerogative, but I cannot sit idly by while the good names of grilled cheese sandwiches are besmirched by calorie-conscious pretenders. Whether it's a bar that should know better or your local deli cutting corners—only YOU can prevent the dilution of the Grilled Cheese Brand. Stick to these reputable purveyors and don't let Unwitting Toasted Cheese happen to you.