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Crave Melt & Tap has grilled cheese sandwiches to die for |

Crave Melt & Tap has grilled cheese sandwiches to die for

Michael Aubele
| Wednesday, March 15, 2017 9:00 p.m
Julia Gongaware
Smoky pulled pork and habanero cheese is piled high on buttery Texas toast at Crave Melt & Tap.
Julia Gongaware
The soft pretzel with beer cheese at Crave Melt & Tap is big enough to feed a small army.
Julia Gongaware
Homemade ranch potato chips come served with an addictive French onion dip at Crave Melt & Tap.

My mother is an amazing cook. Growing up, she regularly filled our dinner table with roasts and Swedish meatballs and pigs in a blanket. But even the best cooks need a night off, and in our house those nights often included grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Both were quick, comforting and always a family favorite.

My mom’s grilled cheese sandwiches weren’t fancy. They were as simple as it could get: Kraft singles and two slices of white bread, buttered on each side and toasted to perfection. She always cut the sandwich on a diagonal, which seemed to make the cheese ooze just a little bit more. It was the kind of sandwich that made everything seem right in the world. And that simple sandwich still feels like home to me no matter how far away I am.

Close to home and working on perfecting that fan favorite of a sandwich is Crave Melt & Tap in Murrysville. Located in a strip mall right off Route 22, Crave is your standard casual bar and eatery. A large brick bar surrounded by booths fills the front and a small dining area complete with a darts room takes up the back.

The food menu at Crave is large but not overwhelming and features starters, salads, soup, grilled cheese and burgers. The draft and bottled beer menu follows suit and features domestics and craft beer in a variety of styles. If you’re having trouble choosing just one beer, try a flight for $10. Wine and cocktails also are available.

For starters, you can go a couple ways: wings, fancy fries, nachos, or more traditional starters like cheese sticks, onion rings and jalapeno bites.

One starter to not pass up, especially if you have a larger party, is the giant pretzel with beer cheese. Giant means giant; this soft pretzel is roughly the size of a medium pizza and as thick as a fire hose. It’s also delicious. The dough had a touch of buttery sweetness and was generously salted. And unlike most grainy beer cheese, this execution was smooth and creamy with just a faint hint of beer. It was the perfect dipping sauce for the pretzel.

Another tasty and sharable starter is the homemade ranch potato chips with French onion dip. The chips were lightly dusted in ranch seasoning and fried crisp. No soggy chip to be found in that basket! Plus the French onion dip was slightly addictive and I’d gladly dip almost anything into it.

The main course is really all about the gourmet grilled cheese sandwich options at Crave. Currently, guests can select from 16 different grilled cheese-style sandwiches. Each comes with your choice of French fries, homemade potato chips or homemade coleslaw. You also can substitute a cup of soup, side salad or onion rings for an additional cost. But Crave’s coleslaw is really too tasty to pass up. It’s creamy. It’s tangy. It’s crunchy. It’s everything coleslaw should be.

Grilled cheese sandwich choices vary from very simple to over-the-top executions. The most simple is The O.G., a classic grilled cheese made with Texas toast and American cheese. I was glad to see this on the menu as I’ve been to far too many grilled cheese-focused restaurants that overlook the classic preparation. As a grilled cheese purist, fancier isn’t always better in my book. The only thing that could have made this better was for the cheese to be more melted and gooey when it hit our table.

We also tried the Sweet Carolina, housemade BBQ pulled pork is piled high on Texas toast and topped with habanero cheese and onion straws. The sandwich wasn’t as spicy as expected but the pork had a nice smoky flavor. The sandwich was a little on the dry side, so ask for extra BBQ sauce with your order.

Other sandwich options to consider include the Wicked Tuna Melt made with spicy tuna salad, a giant pot roast sandwich complete with mashed potatoes and gravy, or the West Coast B.L.T. made with bacon, American cheese, avocado and a fried egg.

If you really don’t want a grilled cheese, Crave does offer burgers. The half-pound burgers are prepared with a variety of toppings and styles. But you can’t go wrong with the classic burger. It’s served with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles and mayo. If you want a little more spice, try the Western Burger. It’s topped with cheddar cheese, peppered bacon, jalapenos, onion rings and a tangy homemade chipotle mayo. Like the sandwiches, the burgers come with your choice of side.

My mom’s grilled cheese is pretty hard to beat and while no other sandwich may truly compare to hers, Crave does a pretty good impersonation.

Julia Gongaware is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories: News
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