Thin Is In

Dig into Bar Dogwood’s grilled cheese for savory treat.


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Photo by Lori Eanes

A grilled cheese shack in the back of an Uptown Oakland bar? Yes, please.

Dogwood’s ingenuity to build a half-wall around the back corner of the small bar, arm it with not much more than a panini press, and turn out a deliciously simple grilled cheese is pure deliciousness and the perfect combination of unassuming and awesome to pair with a pint after work or before a concert.

The grilled cheese ($5) comprises Levain bread, English white cheddar, and mozzarella from Berkeley’s Belfiore Cheese Company. From there, it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure of various veggies ($1) and multiple meat ($2) toppings. Sun-dried tomatoes and basil to pair with a Bloody Mary? Or, if it’s two-fingers of whiskey, maybe the bourbon bacon chutney. Whiskey arrives, followed by the grilled cheese and a few pickles with mustard. The sandwich is less than an inch thick, as if the cheese or a slice of bread was forgotten. But as it turns out, thin is in.

The bread is crunchy without turning into razors aimed at the roof of your mouth. The mozzarella builds a stringy, drooping rope bridges from mouth to hand, and the sharp cheddar gives another layer to the creamy-but-tame mozzarella. At first, the cheese and buttery sourdough take center stage, but then the bacon and bourbon, a natural pairing, and the smokiness seeps throughout the sandwich.

There’s so much going on in such a small package, plus there’s more grilled cheese packed into this five-dollar sandwich than the half-dozen generic kids’ menu offerings at the chain diners. Additionally, these are sized so you can add one at happy hour and still have dinner or even wolf down a few after a couple drinks and not feel overly gluttonous.

The carbs will soak up alcohol while the fatty cheese creates a comfortable barrier. That loose lush logic may not hold scientific validity, but after a few pints, do you really need to justify a crunchy and ooey, salty and gooey grilled cheese? Nope.

Dogwood, 1644 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-444-6669, www.BarDogwood.com

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