THE LOCALE | The Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co.
THE LOWDOWN | There is something inherently nostalgic about a grilled cheese sandwich. Unless you’re some sort of freak (or, lactose intolerant), you’ve probably had one at some point in your life. But, for The Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co. owner and head chef Ryan Chodnicki, grilled cheese is a way of life.
The Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co. opened in January of 2012, and Chodnicki took ownership in November. Tucked into the Oasis Shopping Plaza in Garden City Beach, it feels more like a beach café than one of the seafood monstrosities that dot the Grand Strand. But, despite its small size, Chodnicki has big plans.
“I always wanted to do something with grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese,” says Chodnicki, a native of Ocean City, Md. At a boarding school, Chodnicki and his friends would go into town, buy cheese and bread, and make grilled cheese sandwiches outside while they hung-out. In college, Chodnicki and his friends sold grilled cheeses to fellow students in order to earn spending money. “I loved grilled cheese, and everybody loved grilled cheese, so we would just experiment with different cheeses, and different bread, and different spices,” he says about his early days in the grilled cheese game.
Without a doubt, the grilled cheese sandwich is the cornerstone of The Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co.’s menu. However, Chodnicki would like to do more with the beloved sandwich. Soon, he hopes to start using gourmet cheeses to expand the culinary offerings. Additionally, the future may hold more grilled cheese pairings, such as grilled cheese filled with fried okra, or codfish. The signature dish is called “The Crabmelt,” and features a Maryland-style crab cake nestled between two crispy slices of Texas Toast, deliciously glued together with melted Monterey Jack cheese.
But isn’t this a happy hour review? Can you wash down that grilled cheese with a chilled brew? Happy hour here at The Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co. starts at 3 p.m.. and lasts until 6 p.m. Beer (regularly $3 to $3.50) and wine ($4) are half-price during this time, and makes digging into a hot, melty grilled cheese that much better.
The Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co.’s beer selection includes a decent collection of bottled brews including Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Beck’s, Land Shark, Shocktop, Guinness, Miller Lite, Bud and Bud Light, Mich Ultra and Coors Lite. House wines include merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot grigio and zinfandel. Chodnicki says he’d like to expand into microbrews, furthering the distinctive nature of his restaurant. Grilled cheese and more advanced wine pairings may also be in the future.
TIPS | Check out The Grilled Cheese & Crab Cake Co. on Facebook to stay up to date with future events, new food offerings, and menu. While the signature dish is “The Crabmelt,” the chef’s favorite is the “Fried Oyster Grilled Cheese.”
FIND IT | 2520 U.S. 17, Garden City Beach, at the Oasis Plaza, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheGrilledCheeseAndCrabCakeCompany
Andrew Davis, for Weekly Surge