New Restaurant: Grate and Barrel
Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, great value and a casual atmosphere. What’s not to love?
The owner of Mission Diner has done away with the brunch concept, opting for crispy, gooey, cheesy meals instead.
Photos by Dan Clapson
With our national election just around the corner, there’s a lot to argue about with friends, coworkers and, let’s face it, strangers, too. One topic most people agree on, though, is grilled cheese sandwiches. I think we all have fond memories of coming home for lunch on a cold autumn day to find a crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside sandwich waiting for you and, if you were lucky, some hot tomato soup too.
These feelings of familiarity can be found and devoured at Grate and Barrel, formerly Mission Diner, on 4th Street S.W. Owner Mhairi O’Donnell decided it was time to freshen up the space with a new concept and, let’s be honest here, you can’t really go wrong with a good grilled cheese sandwich.
The American Werewolf, with Wonder Bread and Kraft Singles – a classic.
The Grate and Barrel space is bare bones, with a few tables and a street-facing counter where you can saddle up to enjoy a quick lunch, casual dinner or late-night bite. As you walk in, you’ll be quick to notice Grate’s price point. Sandwiches range from $3 to $12 and a cup of tomato soup is $4. There’s wine on tap and beer for $5 and last, but not least, pie milkshakes for $6.
Ordering the American Werewolf will get you Wonder Bread with Kraft Singles slices. It’s the cheapest of the bunch and clearly geared towards kids or the late night crowd. But why not enjoy bit of nostalgia for only $3 instead of making this guilty pleasure at home and being stuck with leftover Wonder bread and processed cheese slices.
The Hogpuncher, with Asian-style pulled pork, kimchi, bacon, jalapeno jelly and provolone cheese.
Moving onto the more seriously stacked and indulgent menu items, there’s sandwiches like the Hogpuncher (an edible tribute to the band of the same name that’s loaded with Asian-style pulled pork, kimchi, bacon, jalapeno jelly and provolone cheese), Jann Arden (a burger-meets-grilled cheese mash-up with guacamole, Alberta cheddar, caramelized onions and a marinara sauce) and The Dudes, which finds a nice balance between sweet and savoury with bananas, peanut butter, bacon and cream cheese. If Elvis were still around today, he would no doubt go for the latter.
The pie shake, akin to a house-made Blizzard but with pie.
Like I mentioned earlier, you can wash your meal down with a glass of beer or some wine, but why not go for a milkshake of epic proportions? The different flavours of Grate and Barrel’s pie-shakes currently include a seasonal pumpkin spice, cherry pie and vanilla, apple pie and blueberry pie and chocolate. The approach is simple: take a big slice of pie and blitz it up with standard milkshake ingredients for something akin to a house-made Blizzard. It’s something that’s so simple (and obviously indulgent), but unique and fun to eat. The little chunks of pie speckled throughout the shake are worth seeking out and not sharing with your friends.
What’s a grilled cheese sandwich without tomato soup to go with it?
At the end of the day, the thing that’s most charming about Grate and Barrel is that it’s not trying to be something it’s not. O’Donnell could have easily gone the hipster-chic design route and adding wood paneling on the walls and perhaps some ever-so-slick and still over used Edison light bulbs to set the mood before serving grilled cheese on some fancy artisan bread. But, is that what we really want? No, most of us simply crave a no-frills, perfectly crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside sandwich just like mom used to make.