Grilled cheese at All Good Bakers

all good bakers grilled cheese

By Daniel B.

The grilled cheese revolution is here.

Count this as one of the fastest trends to start in a big metropolitan center and arrive at our doorstep in Albany. The most specific accounting I found on the subject claims to have identified the very day grilled cheese took the great leap from ordinary to extraordinary. That day was April 13, 2008, in New York City. Though it may have been even earlier than that, since the Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational had been underway in Los Angeles many years before.

Regardless, today our nation is speckled with grilled cheese food trucks from coast to coast, many of which are offering very sophisticated takes on this classic childhood favorite. Some are relying upon artisanal local, seasonal and organic ingredients, while others are challenging the very notion of what a grilled cheese sandwich can be.

We are lucky here in Albany. Our newfangled grilled cheese sandwich is a bit more civilized than one from a truck that roams around the city. You can eat inside, at a table, and upon an actual porcelain plate. Plus you don't have to follow All Good Bakers on Twitter or Facebook to know where they are going to be.

But there are still a few quirks. You didn't think it was going to be easy, did you?

all good bakers exterior 2011-10

Good food sometimes requires a bit of effort. And without a doubt, the grilled cheese sandwich at All Good Bakers is good food.

Last weekend, they were making a simple sandwich from their country French sourdough, a loaf that takes 36 hours to produce. It was filled only with asiago cheese from Cohoes-based R&G Cheese Makers. But the sandwich was seasoned with olive oil infused with rosemary from All Good Bakers' own garden.

Wow.

Real hand crafted cheese may not melt and stretch like American processed cheese food. But it warms, and it softens, and it intensifies in flavor. The fresh bread from the bakery, made from locally-milled organic grains, with its sturdy and flour-dusted crust is even better when it is hot and grilled. Add to that the flavor and aroma of the rosemary that punctuated every bite, and you've got a serious grilled cheese sandwich on your hands.

all good bakers grilled cheese closeup

It just so happened that the sandwich came with a hot side salad of potatoes from Farmer Jon's Produce, kale from Molasses Meg's house in Berne, garlic from Fox Creek Farms, organic lemons and olive oil. I'm starting to understand why Nick Foster -- the baker, chef and co-owner of All Good Bakers -- has been nominated as a 2012 Rising Star Chef by the Albany Chefs' Food & Wine Festival.

Oh, by the way, did I mention the whole thing is only five bucks?

So what's the catch?

Well, for starters, there is only one grilled cheese sandwich on the menu. The good news is that it changes. And the better news is that they all look pretty darn delicious. Previous iterations have included the following:

+ Sage cheddar & apple butter on yeasted cornbread
+ Roasted garlic goat cheese sliders on a baguette with spicy pineapple chutney
+ Smoked mozzarella sliders on a baguette with roasted eggplant, tomato & garlic

The other catch is that AGB may not be open when you have a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich. For instance, you can't get one for dinner. Okay, that might not be fair. If you want to have dinner at five o'clock on Friday night, you can. But the hours of the operation are tricky.

They are only open three days a week:
+ Fridays from 11 am to 6 pm
+ Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm
+ Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm

all good bakers toast art 2011-10

It also might be difficult to get a seat. There are three tables each with two chairs, and one other chair tucked into a corner that looks like it would be a great spot to relax with a cup of coffee and a pastry. But if you had a plate, I think it might need to go in your lap.

However, if you are a bit uptight, this might not be the place for you anyway. The pace can be a bit relaxed. But this is slow food, so I'm okay with that.

What I don't want to hear complaints about is parking on Quail Street or finding a spot nearby. People drive thirty minutes out of their way to hunt down lesser sandwiches from grilled cheese trucks. Parking two blocks away and getting a little fresh air is a small price to pay for such a special treat here in the heart of our city.

Daniel B. is the proprietor of the Fussy Little Blog.

Earlier on AOA:
+ The new All Good Bakers storefront
+ Talking with All Good Bakers about their community supported bakery

Find It

All Good Bakers
160 A Quail Street
Albany, NY 12203

Fridays from 11 am to 6 pm
Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm
Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm

Cash only.

Comments

This is a great tip! I've been meaning to look up All Good Bakers after hearing some recent buzz. it's a shame they're only open a few days a week, but it's certainly not a deterent. I'll have to make my way down there.

I've been looking for a good grilled cheese since moving back to Albany from the North Country where I was spoiled by Rock Hill's grown up grilled cheese. Such a simple dish that you can have some fun stuff with - I'm surprised you don't see it more on menus (other than in the kids' section!).

I shouldn't read a post like this before I've had lunch... all of those grilled cheese variations sound yummy! I'll have to check this place out.

That looks similar to the sandwich I had at Wheatberry Cafe in Amherst, MA a few years ago. They were the ones who showed me that a grilled cheese sandwich can be really good with mustard, which I had never considered before.

That said, for some reason the idea of a grilled cheese at Friendly's doesn't sound so bad at the moment.

indeed the grilled cheese here is amazzzing.....

The secret ingredient is love! These guys are awesome neighbors. Keep up the great stuff, AGB!

I have been a die hard fan of the AGB grilled cheese since the beginning. You should check this place out.

Or try one of AGB's bread bowl soups! Everything is delicious... keeps us coming back every single weekend.

Thank you AOA & Daniel B. for this wonderful feature on Nick's Grilled Cheese Sandwiches! We go to a lot of Phish shows where grilled cheeses are the go-to, after-show snack in the parking lots afterwards. Nick aims to elevate the GC to "not just lot food anymore"! Glad you appreciated last week's offering, Profussor.

We change our lunch specials every weekend based on what we receive fresh from our local suppliers each week - Sean over at R&G Cheesemakers in Cohoes delivered some of his Truffle Cow's Milk Cheese for us today. Nick is melting it on Sourdough Baguette Sliders with Blackberry Jam from Beth's Farm Kitchen (Stuyvesant Plaza) this weekend. We're open Fridays 11-6, Saturdays 10ish-4, Sun 10-2 (with brunch & handmade, buttery traditional & chocolate croissants made w/ NY organic flour and my own butter made from Meadowbrook Dairy's heavy cream - they're only $2 & $2.50).

We post our weekend menu on our facebook page every Wednesday night - check it out this week's here: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&¬e_id=284740351559901&id=142747862425818

We look forward to seeing those of you who can stop by this weekend!

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