April 17, 2014 at 10:00 am EDT | by Jonathan Howard
Building on the basics
grilled cheese sandwich, dining, GCDC, gay news, Washington Blade

One of the grilled cheese offerings at GCDC. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Grilled cheese — nothing could be simpler right? Two slices of bread, a few pieces of whatever cheese you desire, apply heat and viola, lunch. If you want to get extra fancy you can prepare some tomato soup to pair it with. However, this simple comfort food is the centerpiece of one of D.C.’s most anticipated openings this spring from father-and-son team Bruce and Steve Klores. The goal behind GCDC (1730 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.) is to make the grilled cheese you have grown to love, just a bit less pedestrian.

Last week was the soft opening of GCDC and it was a full house. Some even got turned away leading up to the April 11 grand opening. GCDC will be the District’s first grilled-cheese-centric establishment; in the afternoon owners are anticipating that the 42-seat dining room will function as a fast paced but casual lunch spot where diners can quickly grab a classic or slightly more unusual grilled cheese. In the evening, the menu transforms from sandwiches to rare cheeses, and charcuterie for a happy hour or cocktail-sipping crowd. Sure, the cocktails are well-crafted creative concoctions, but I’m completely focused on the cheese-centric items they offer.

A great deal of thought has gone into the items on the menu at GCDC, some of which were researched for up to six months by renowned cheese-monger Sophie Slesinger. The offerings at lunch and dinner, while different, are universally impressive.

For lunch, GCDC currently offers six sandwiches; each is created with a custom cheese blend and artisanal breads to create mouth-watering specialty bites. The French Onion features their Gruyere blend and caramelized onions on challah bread. The grilled carbonara also features the Gruyere paired with fresh goat cheese, leeks and pancetta on white. The buffalo blue may end up being my favorite lunchtime platter at GCDC with cheddar, Wisconsin blue cheese, spicy chicken, red onion and Frank’s Red Hot all melted together on toasted crispy white bread. Hot and spicy, gooey and crunchy, sharp and pungent, all these flavors and textures created a perfect plate.

One of the more inventive sandwiches on the menu is the Kim-Cheese-Steak complete with GCDC’s cheddar cheese blend, No. 1 Sons kimichi, spicy sauce and Korean-style roast beef on white. If one of these creative combinations has not piqued your interest, you can always create your own grilled cheese by selecting one ingredient from the specified categories. Of course, no grilled cheese is complete without tomato soup and GCDC offers a vegan “Tomato Soup with a Kick,” for its patrons to enjoy. If that is not enough for your lunch break, you can also enjoy tots, which are served up three ways: original, American style (with cheddar cheese sauce, bacon, jalapenos and onions) or Canadian style (with melted cheese curds, bacon and mushroom gravy).

The evening menu is touted on the lunch menu as cheese from all over, wine, spicy meats, generous cocktails and craft beer, which pretty much sums up the offerings. Choose from a selection of cheeses including young delicate cheeses such as fresh robiola, a fresh pasteurized cow cheese from Italy, or Cremont, a pasteurized blend of goat and cow cheese. If the delicate cheeses are not what you’re looking for, you can hit the other end of the spectrum with some powerful and pungent blue cheese like Gorgonzola dolce or Stilton. Pair your cheeses with some charcuterie such as jamon Serrano, sweet sopressata or country pate. Each selection come with assorted breads, pickles and whole grain mustard.

There’s even a sweet section on the evening menu, which includes mascarpone with fruit compote and almond tuile, bread pudding or a rotating selection of sweet grilled cheese bites, which makes me want to visit repeatedly until I’ve tried all in the rotation. Food in the evening is accompanied by a couple of beers on tap, several others in bottles or can, a half dozen artisanal cocktails and, of course, wine.

GCDC is a welcome addition to both the lunch scene in D.C. as well as those who enjoy a happy hour with food.

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