Graham Elliot makes grilled cheese and Chicago’s food writers go ga-ga

Graham Elliot makes grilled cheese and Chicago’s food writers go ga-ga
Graham Elliot makes grilled cheese and Chicago’s food writers go ga-ga

Graham Elliot makes grilled cheese and Chicago’s food writers go ga-ga

Graham Elliot opened a sandwich shop on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to trying it out soon, but you would have thought Alice Waters set up an organic garden in Millennium Park, or Mario Batali was cutting pasta himself on his grandma’s antique chitarra in Little Italy. Eater had the sneak peek, Exclusive! video the DAY BEFORE it opened; the Tribune dining staff pulled a collective Earl, and ordered the whole friggin’ menu - at least the sandwiches and snacks - on the FIRST DAY; Time Out was live on the scene that morning, while The Feast was taking the pulse of breakfast commuters; then these guys weighed-in on the place ON THE SECOND DAY (slackers), with a short video of crisply-edited shots to boot. Hell, by the time I get there, say, one week in, I’ll be the last one to the party (well, maybe before Bruno). Until that day, I’ll keep making my old standby: the McSteven.

Like a weak offensive football team that relies too much on its punter, a parent has to have a reliable go-to in the kitchen. Thanks to my sturdy, Australian-made Breville sandwich press, I’ve become a hero to my kids, slinging paninis at will: fresh mozz, smoked gypsy ham from Gene’s and sliced tomatoes on Labriola Tuscan pane become an enviable lunch, while breakfast brings out the coveted McSteven: pork (either smoked bacon or breakfast sausage - like the porky patties above - from City Provisions), layered with sharp cheddar slices and an organic egg that’s been microwaved in a shallow bowl for a minute, are all stacked between sturdy loaves of Labriola ciabatta. I drizzle the outside with a bit of olive oil, then immediately press it between the heated grates. Five minutes later, the kids are eating a hearty breakfast that doesn’t need a million dollar ad campaign, contains nothing artificial and will probably never appear on the Grahamwich menu. But I wouldn’t know for sure. I haven’t been there yet.

(pictured above: The McSteven - not on the Grahamwich menu (yet))

addendum as of 9 a.m. 12/17: not to be outdone, Daily Candy got into the mix with a clever poem, already having apparently tasted the turkey confit and the pastrami Reuben on Days 1 or 2.