24 August 2009

The Challenge: Getting Full on a Split Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Paragon

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Soup and Mixed Green Salad, $9.50, split $4.75

While perusing this summer’s Street of Dreams in the Pearl, my mom and I decided to try the much talked about Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup at Paragon. On our way we passed Palimino’s and suddenly we were confused and thought that was where we were supposed to be. We were seated for happy hour and after going through the menu, the grilled cheese was no where to be found. Disappointment struck. We asked our waitress about this well known cheese sandwich and she gave us a knowing look and sent us on our way.

A block and a half later, we walked into Paragon and sat at a quaint table next to the open garage door windows. The rumor was that they served huge grilled cheese sandwiches that were perfect for splitting. Sure enough, on their bar menu: Grilled Cheese Sandwich made with sharp cheddar and white cheddar, served with Tomato Soup and a mixed green salad for $9.50.

“Are you sure we are supposed to split this?” my mom whispered to me. “Yeah, I’m almost positive that’s what I’ve heard.” We ordered, making sure to tell the waitress we were splitting. When our meals came out we were sure they had gotten our order wrong; they had brought out two plates, each one with a cup of soup, salad and a full grilled cheese.

Putting aside our slight frustration in the wait staff for the mistake, we both began on our salads. Crisp, mixed greens, lightly coated with a vinaigrette dressing; the salad was delightful. I then picked up my grilled cheese, made with two giant slices of sour dough, charred to a light brown and glowing with olive oil. I dipped the tip of it into the bright orange Tomato Soup. Flawlessness: the sandwich was crisp on the outside, with a fine layer of rich cheeses; once dunked into the fresh and tangy soup, it softened just on the inside.

My mom and I sat there raving about the soup and sandwich, “They must add something to this Tomato soup—maybe orange . . .” my mom guessed. “I’m not sure,” I responded, “but it’s so fresh and you can taste the tomato seeds.” We both agreed that it was a good idea we didn’t split the meal, because it was just enough food by itself.

The waitress came by and after chatting with her about the secret ingredient in the soup, she explained that it was the only recipe they don’t give out—but, like all their recipes, it was made in house every morning. We couldn’t help but ask, “This wasn’t split, was it?” “Yes!” she exclaimed, “It’s our most popular meal and the perfect thing to split—the cooks always place it with two cups of soup and individual salads.” We both sat with our mouths opened in disbelief—this was too good of a deal! “I mean I’m not going to lie, I can definitely finish a whole one after a long shift, but most people don’t make a dent in a whole sandwich!” she explained.

With a bill of $9.50—we literally left feeling like we were stealing. “Are they crazy?” I asked my mom, “We just spent $4.75 each on dinner!” Now people, with a deal like this, there is no excuse why you to can’t eat in the Pearl. If you have a $5.00 bill—you can eat like a king!

Paragon Restaurant & Bar Portland on Urbanspoon

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