No offense to your mom (we’re sure she’s a lovely lady), but a Turtle Bay newcomer is taking a little slice of your childhood and elevating it to a level completely out of her wheelhouse. The Pullman Kitchen, which opened this fall, dishes out creative tweaks on the classic grilled cheese sandwich, slapping an array of unexpected ingredients between two slices of bread.
Co-owners Denis Keane and Carolyn Pincus may not have set out to dethrone your mom as the reigning master of the griddle, but it’s hard to compete with combos like the smoky Little Italy (sweet fennel sausage, broccoli rabe, hot cherry peppers, and Lioni mozzarella on sourdough) and chicken and waffles in sandwich form, the savory-sweet pairing made complete with pepper jack cheese and Vermont maple syrup. The 54-seat spot, with its blonde wood and bright blue accents, is still homey enough that you’ll feel comfortable downing either—although we recommend at least putting on pants, since this is definitely not your living room.
Sure, you can still go the traditional route with The Pullman Classic (New York sharp cheddar and beefsteak tomatoes on Pullman bread) but err on the wild side and your adventurousness will be rewarded. Keane and Pincus focus on sourcing many of the restaurant’s ingredients locally, and bold flavors like the slow-cooked pork and beef Bolognese in the Sunday Supper and beer-braised oxtail in the appropriately named The Oxtail give a hefty depth to their respective cheeses. To wash it all down, head to the bar, which features small batch craft beers and wines from New York, as well as creative cocktails using artisanal spirits.
But if you really want to get crazy, put on your stretchiest pants and settle in for The Grilled Beast of Midtown East, a $25 cheesy challenge not for the faint of heart (or stomach). The five-pound grilled cheese monstrosity features fried chicken, bacon, and ham with three kinds of melted cheese, kale, tomatoes, spicy cherry peppers and two cornbread waffles, all drizzled with maple syrup and still sandwiched between two pieces of grilled sourdough. If you finish the sandwich and the accompanying pile of roasted fingerlings and house pickles, you’ll earn a spot on the online Gluttony Hall of Fame, a free “I conquered the Beast of Midtown East” tee, and the sandwich is on the house. No word if you also get your dignity back.