111 E. 29th St., nr. Park Ave. S.; 212-685-5585
Calling Ryan Skeen’s latest sandwich concoction the best grilled cheese doesn’t really cover it. Heart Stopper is what it goes by behind the swinging doors. But even that’s underselling the thing. Here’s what it is: two slices of Sullivan St Bakery pullman, one layered with Vermont Cheddar and a slice of boutique bacon, the other slathered with a béchamel that’s been spiked with, get this, shards of crisp pork belly and enough grated Gruyère to feed a Swiss family of four. Here’s the clincher: The outside of the bread is slicked for the fry pan not with butter or margarine the way Mommy used to do it, but with aïoli. That the bread is cooked to a golden sheen and the cheese to that perfect temperature technically called oozing goes without saying, and so does the fact that you shouldn’t eat more than one per month. Dieters, take note: “We make it without the bacon and pork-belly béchamel for vegetarian people,” says Skeen, “but it’s frowned upon.”
Best Grilled Cheese
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).