There’s new sandwich spot (albeit with a familiar look) in Seattle’s Uwajimaya food court — how does it stack up?
Cheese Meats Bread, new in Seattle’s Uwajimaya food court, is not to be confused with Meat & Bread, slightly less new in South Lake Union. Yes, they share two-thirds of their names. Yes, they’re both all about sandwiches, with straightforward counter service. Yes, the similarities between their block-letter websites (look, and look) and branding aesthetic are striking. (Sorry for saying “branding aesthetic,” but that’s clearly what we’re dealing with.)
But here, friends, the similarities end: Meat & Bread is a mini-chain from Vancouver that makes fancied-up regular sandwiches, while Cheese Meats Bread is run by the owner of Seattle mini-chain 8oz. Burger & Co., and it makes fancied-up grilled cheese sandwiches.
Seattle sandwich fans already know what they think of Meat & Bread (the hype didn’t seem warranted to me, and a branch on Capitol Hill already closed down). Is it worth taking your mouth to meet Cheese Meats Bread?
Cheese Meats Bread
604 Fifth Ave. S. (Chinatown International District), Seattle; 206-624-0517; cheesemeatsbread.life; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. every day
The grilled cheese(s): To counter the I-can-make-grilled-cheese-at-home protests straightaway, almost every sandwich at Cheese Meats Bread starts with chef/owner Kevin Chung’s house blend of fontina, mozzarella, Beecher’s white cheddar, mild cheddar and Parmesan. (If you’ve got five kinds of cheese at your place, can I come over?) It’s a very nice combination: rich and melty, evading boringness but not too wildly flavored in any direction.
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The cheese then meets various matches, starting with a version of the good old classic with just American added, and getting much more elaborate from there. The Seoul, with braised pork belly, fried egg, house-made kimchi, cilantro and gochujang aioli, was a messy marvel. Despite sounding over-the-top, it achieved sandwich-balance — a modicum of meat, not too much kimchi punch, the umami stopping short of overpowering the eggy-cheesy goodness. The Mex adds queso fresco, chorizo, pico de gallo and crema to the house cheese mix, and it tastes like a delicious burrito sandwich, ending up surprisingly spicier than the Seoul.
There’s something for everyone, from the All American (bacon, tomato, kale, tomato jam, garlic aioli) to the Earthy (vegan cheese, smashed avocado, roasted tomatoes, kale, balsamic drizzle, vegan butter). The bread, basic white and wheat from Wheat Montana Farms & Bakery, does the job properly, toasting up a buttery golden-brown. (A sandwich that was supposed to come on a brioche roll did not on our visit, while the gluten-free bread wasn’t bad at all, though sadly smaller than the rest.)
Every sandwich comes in a Meat & Bread-style cardboard box, but Cheese Meats Bread’s have a cute separate compartment for a fresh-tasting, if basic, mixed green salad. For $6 to $9, it’s more than filling — and it’s more fun to try two, so take a friend and go halvsies.
The sides: Thick tomato soup ($3) made for good, clingy dipping, and the tater tots ($4) were tater tots, hence, tasty. But the Brussels sprouts ($6) needed salt, pepper, something, and for a place with so much cheese, the macaroni ($4) was tragically bland. An oddly thin milkshake ($5) seemed like a waste of Full Tilt ice cream; it’s the only milkshake I’ve ever seen end up still half-full on the table. Stick with the grilled cheese(s).