One of my go-to comfort foods has always been the grilled cheese sandwich, which is why I was happy to hear Tom+Chee was opening their first Florida store in Lake Buena Vista.
I had the chance to try a few of their menu items this week, and I have to say it takes my fave comfort food to another level.
Tom+Chee first gained national exposure when they appeared on an episode of Shark Tank, but they’ve also appeared on ABC’s “The Chew,” Travel Channel’s “Man vs Food Nation,” and NBC’s “The Today Show” where they were named one of America’s best new sandwiches.
Their menu features over 25 sandwiches centering on cheese, including grilled cheese donuts, along with salads, three versions of tomato soup, and a rotating selection of daily soups and sandwiches. They even have a make-your-own sandwich option.
Speaking with the manager, I learned that all Tom+Chee stores roast their own meats, and make their dressings, sauces, and spreads from scratch. Most of the items they try to source locally – for instance using Orlando Brewing for their beer cheese soup – and if they run out of an ingredient, they would rather temporarily take the item off the menu rather than substitute a lesser quality ingredient.
They are also very responsive to consumer dietary needs and allergies. They offer gluten-free bread, vegan cheese, vegan/vegetarian soups, and even make their basil pesto with sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts to accommodate those with nut allergies. They’ll also prepare gluten-free and vegan sandwiches on a counter that has not had regular bread or meat touch it, if requested.
But how does it taste? I tried two regular sandwiches, two grilled cheese donuts, and two soups with a friend, and we both loved everything we ate.
For sandwiches, I tried the Crunchy Garlic Chicken, which I was told was one of the most popular items on the menu. It features roasted chicken, grilled onion, diced tomatoes, sweet hot mustard, garlic seasoning, parmesan garlic potato chips (hence the crunch in the name), and pepper jack cheese on a wheat bread. The combination of flavors was just right, it wasn’t too garlic-y, and the chips were a nice added texture to the sandwich. I also liked that the bread was hearty enough to hold it all without getting soggy. I would most definitely order this again.
My friend tried the Pep+Chee, another crowd favorite, and while it was a simpler sandwich, it was still full of flavor. It consisted of pepperoni, tomato sauce, and mozzarella on white bread. Sort of a pizza sandwich, and they didn’t skimp on the ingredients.
For soups, we tried dippers of the Creamy Tomato Basil, one of the three versions of tomato soups on the menu, and the soup of the day, a Beer Cheese soup. Both were fresh and hearty. I found the Beer Cheese to be an excellent dipper for the Crunchy Garlic Chicken, while the Creamy Tomato Basil was a delicious pairing with the Pep+Chee.
Finally we tried their famous Grilled Cheese Donuts (GCD). On the manager’s recommendation, we first tried the S’More, featuring chocolate pieces, graham crackers, and marshmallow marscapone layered between a sliced donut. If you like S’Mores, this sandwich is very faithful interpretation.
We also tried the GCD of the day, a patriotic Star-Spangled, featuring fresh cut strawberries, blueberry compote, and marshmallow mascarpone layered between a sliced donut. This was so decadent and flavorful, I almost inhaled it. It was seriously good.
Besides delicious food, do you know what makes Tom+Chee a winner in my book? It’s affordable. Sandwiches prices average $6 to $8, and they will do half sandwiches for half the price. Salads are $4.95 for small and $6.95 for regular. Soups are $3.50-$4 a cup, $4.50-$5 a bowl, and only $1.50 for a dipper. By making a sandwich a meal combo, with the addition of a soda and a cup of soup, you can have a complete meal for under $10.
Yeah, this place gets two thumbs up from me!
Tom+Chee Lake Buena Vista is located at 12533 State Road 535 in the Crossroads Plaza by Disney. Hours are 11am to 10pm daily. Visit tomandchee.com for more information on the company or visit the location’s Facebook page at facebook.com/tomandcheeorlando to find out about daily specials.
They will also be hosting their grand opening celebration on Friday, July 10, with a ribbon cutting around 10:45am.
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