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The 5-Second Rule – PoPville’s official unofficial food truck critique by Queenedix – Big Cheese Truck

Read Queenedix’s previous reviews here.

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered a challenge in reviewing food trucks: Cost. When I check out new trucks (and readers, feel free to leave suggestions for future reviews when you comment on my pluralizing of traditional European desserts) I try to consider how good the food would be, objectively, to a random hungry passerby on a nice day, but also whether or not the cost is worth the food you receive. This in itself becomes an options-narrowing challenge—recently, I spent $18 on an entrée and side from a previously untested truck, only to determine that the quantity of food, overall quality, and cost didn’t compel me to go back and review the place again. I would think many of you, like me, would be hard-pressed to drop a $20 on a meal that doesn’t even include real silverware or a complimentary piece of bread.

In the hunt for a good, satisfying bargain, sometimes the most obvious solutions are also the best. This week I convened a circle of hungry friends to help me try Big Cheese Truck, the popular purveyor of things grilled and cheesy. Bringing together a group to taste has its benefits, especially with something as familiar as grilled cheese—there’s a lot less to quibble about than when trying a more complex dish. A variety of tasters help me figure out whether I subjectively reallllly love any kind of grilled cheese, or whether the sandwiches are, objectively, delicious. The verdict at this truck is clear: Big Cheese Truck is a new favorite spot.

Big Cheese Truck

4 seconds

I had already tried many of the offerings at Big Cheese Truck before convening my “tasting circle,” but I was glad I gave the truck another shot. On my first few visits, there was always something that made the sandwiches not-quite-perfect, like un-melted cheese in the sandwich’s center. Although it was not offered on the day of the tasting, I absolutely love the “Truffle Shuffle,” which I have seen on the menu and tried only once. Not for the faint of palate, this sandwich is loaded with flavor—black truffles in the cheese, smooth and earthy artichoke hearts on a slightly sweet, dark bread makes for a hell of a sandwich—one of the best ways I think I’ve ever spent $6.50. With the “tasting circle,” I re-sampled other menu items I’d tried before—the Midnight Moon, standard grilled cheese, “Thrilled Cheese,” and “Mt. Fuji.” We also dipped our crusts in Big Cheese’s homemade tomato soup.

Continues after the jump.

The circle, which included a vegetarian and a friend who maintains a kosher diet, happily discovered everything on the menu fit with their dietary observances. Within the group, the Mt. Fuji scored the highest marks. Soft, melted brie and Mt. Fuji apples on a whole grain bread makes for an absolutely outstanding bite—the crisp, slightly acidic sweetness of the apple counters the richness of the brie, with the bread adding a nutty flavor and texture. My next personal favorite, although not for everyone, was the “Thrilled Cheese,” a tangy and subtly spicy combination of sharp chipotle cheddar and jalapenos on tart sourdough. I thought the combination was incredibly satisfying, like eating a nacho in a sandwich. My only complaint—the advertised guacamole was barely discernable the first go-round, and absent the second.

The standard “Barely Buzzed” grilled cheese was ok, used mostly for dipping in the rich, hearty, and slightly spicy homemade tomato soup (a steal at $2.50 for a good-sized portion). As silly as it sounds, the tasters determined that a standard grilled cheese is so simple and familiar, sometimes even slight variations (like this one, on sourdough) don’t quite provide the same simple satisfaction of the classic—the cheddar and sourdough together were too sharp, and there wasn’t quite enough gooey cheesiness. The “Midnight Moon” combines sharp, earthy goat Gouda with caramelized onions on multigrain bread. This sandwich was the one I was most excited to try, as was the group, and yet we were slightly disappointed—the overall sandwich was balanced between the sweetness of the onions and the richness of the cheese, but both times, the cheese in the middle wasn’t melted at all, and the pieces of onion were very large and difficult to bite through, resulting in long pieces of onion falling out of the sandwich. There was also discussion of whether the cheese was too strong for the sandwich—everyone agreed that a goat cheese was the best type, but discussed whether a different type of goat cheese would have been better.

Overall, our minor critiques didn’t change the fact that, for the most part, Big Cheese Truck does a great job of bringing very reasonably-priced, delicious, creative sandwiches to the streets of D.C. The guys working the truck are always up for making a joke, handing out samples of tomato soup, and otherwise keeping the crowd upbeat as they grill their sandwiches to melted perfection, at the bargain price of $6.50. In a city of $15 salads and $25 cheeseburgers, I recommend you consider Big Cheese Truck for your next lunchtime brainstorming session with colleagues—get out of the office, share a few sandwiches, and dip your crusts in a communal cup of tomato soup as the creative combinations inspire you.

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