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Chowdown Showdown: Oswego's Best Grilled Cheese

Where to go when you're under the weather or looking for something basic, and nothing sounds better than grilled cheese.

Few things make me want my mommy like being sick, and few things are more satisfying than grilled cheese sandwiches when you’re under the weather. So as I fought a vicious a few weeks ago, I decided to see which Oswego restaurant is most like my mom. 

There are fewer and fewer diners in the country with a classic Americana vibe, but we’re lucky to still have the Oswego Family Restaurant. The menu isn’t wildly different from what you get at other area diners, but the setting here makes the cuisine just taste more authentic. I figured this was a great choice to start my Grilled Cheese quest.  

Just how I like it, this Grilled Cheese is served on some buttery white bread. The sandwich looked clean, too, as if it were the first thing to hit the griddle all day. Real, unpretentious American Cheese and a three dollar price-tag make this a great choice for your diner dollar. 

Oswego Family Restaurant Good The price and presentation. 

Oswego Family Restaurant Bad I think they could have used an extra slice of cheese on the sandwich, but what are you going to do?  

The International House of Pancakes serves a grilled cheese sandwich that comes with several pieces of cheese. The bread is crisp and soft. It just has a substantial feel to it. If you were looking for an engineer’s grilled cheese, this is it. It’s not just a carelessly made grilled cheese.  

Or maybe it is, but you get the feeling of a precision sandwich. Mine featured two slices of bread perfectly lined up with each other and with a dome of cheesy goodness in the center. I was a little disheartened at first as no cheese is visible dripping out the sides of the sandwich. But then you bite in, and whoa Helen, there’s your cheese.  

IHOP Good If there’s such a thing as a man’s grilled cheese, this is it. 

IHOP Bad I got mine to go, and they laid a pickle spear right across the top of the sandwich, so that by the time I got to eat it, the sandwich had been compromised by pickle juice. 

Panera has a hard time doing anything simply or cheaply, and this is no exception. The $5 I spent here would easily be the most expensive of the thre  sandwiches. For that price, I expect to be dazzled by cheesy and buttery goodness.  

Instead, what you get are 2 thin slices of bread that are no softer than the tough centers with crusts so sturdy they could support a church bell. I ordered mine with American Cheese, of course, but there seemed to be what I can only describe as a “cheddar sauce,” present as well.  Nothing about the cheese seemed gooey, as much as it seemed globby. 

Panera Good I really wanted to offload that $5 bill. 

Panera Bad I never have $5 bills I’m THAT eager to offload.  

And the Winner Is

How can you not pick the Oswego Family Restaurant? When you consider the true spirit of the dish and the value, the other two just don’t even compare.  

Pat Gavros November 22, 2011 at 02:37 AM
I have to agree with you. Although I don't do the grilled cheese, I have a favorite BLT! What I really like the best is the atmosphere and I always feel like I'm on the set of "Cheers".....you know "where everybody knows your name?! It's a staple that I hope stays in Oswego for a long, long, long, long..............you get the point - time.

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