Sunday, June 3, 2012

You, Me, TOM + CHEE (Food Views)

05/31/12 (approx. 3pm)
Newport on the Levee

A Thursday. Not unlike any other day except this was not only Julies  __th birthday, but also our 'were going steady' anniversary. Twenty years of her and me. Us verses them. I owe it all to poor judgement, trickery and vodka screwdrivers. Me? I'm the lucky one. I clearly got the better end of the bargain concerning our union. Let our relationship always be an example of the loser guy really hitting it big...

You know what they say, you win some and you lose a lot more. Trust me, I know this. Concerning my relationship with Julie: coveting, lust, courtship engagement, marriage and beyond, I claim victory!

I savor every minute of it too. Times, victories such as mine, don't come along often. Rah.

A few says before this day we made the decision to make the trek to TOM+CHEE, a place we both learnt about on MAN VS. FOOD NATION. It looked interesting enough but with the current climate if economic upheaval, we just got caught up in the 'New Isolation' that made a 30 mile trek (one way) to TOM + CHEE a damn near journey, a special event.

You see, we been Kicking it around the neighborhood like all the other soft alliance citizens. High gas prices mean shorter, combined trips. 80% of what we do as a family is within a under a 10 mile radius of the home. All the fucking oil/insurance/commodity empire 1%'ers out there wanna raise all their prices on everything, well watch this American family cutback (CUTBACKS!) and do without. AmeriCANS becomes AmeriWONTS and a trip to a place basing their entire concept around a grilled cheese becomes a treat.

Its beautiful, and also a bit sad too. Both, at the same time. Go figure.

So, before we go any further, let me say now that any negativity in this article is really criticism aimed at Newport on The Levee... TOM + CHEE made a mistake in this location. No, I don't know their financial records or reports or any of that bullshit. TOM + CHEE, on 'paper' at Newport on the Levee or whatever may be a huge success. I don't know, I don't care. I'm not motivated by profits, I'm motivated by hunger, passion and concepts.

I'm not motivated by profitability and look upon the whole adventure and trip, with a sour note concerning the parking situation. On top of what would be a $21 meal was a $2 additional fee for parking in the garage!

The $2 is just two dollars, Its not much, but its sort of like a entertainment tax, or just some sorts of random bullshit tax. Another way to capitalize on peoples wallets and squeeze them that little bit more. What 'they' have isn't enough, they want ALL of it.

I love grilled cheeses. I cant say that I have ever had a bad grilled cheese. Some may be better than others but its almost a safe bet when someone suggest grilled cheese, your gonna get something good. Usually, in most conversations about most topics, my usage of the word SAFE isn't held to such high regards but in my coverage of food and restaurants, SAFE is a power word of mine. I like SAFE. SAFE is good and delicious to me. SAFE is familiar.

As far as the food goes, it was good. Safe, plain (don't get me started with 'plain'!), upfront and delicious. Grilled Cheese uber alles! Olive had a typical grilled cheese, Julie had the ITS ALL GOETTA which she liked but added that was a little bit overpowered by the grilled onion topping. I had the BBQ BACON that offers not only bacon bits but Cincy's own GRIPPO potato chips as a topper. It was a great tasting combo of flavors. I felt like I could have easily crushed two complete sandwiches as well as my accompaniment selection, but more on that later...

Since this was my first long awaited trip to this place, I also ordered one of their BLUEBERRY BLU GRILLED CHEESE donuts that I not only shared with Julie and Olive but happily proclaimed that it was 'Grandma Good' meaning that it was so decadently good that it was reminiscent if something that you would be given by your Grandma calories, fat grams or nutrition be dammed! If it was good, your 
grandma gave it to you and this selection was GOOO-OOOD indeed!

Drinks were the usual fare... I'm growing farther and farther away from liking Coke-A-Cola as a first-choice in beverages... In fact, I would even say that I'm now a 'Pepsi-Man' but as in many cases "Coke is JUST OK"... Julie mentioned that there was an obvious lack of sides at TOM + CHEE. Personally, I'm not a soup eater. That's what the 'TOM' in their name is supposed ti represent. Soup isn't really an option for me as a meal, or side. The times in my life I chose soup in a primary role, or much less a secondary choice are very limited ones. Thinking back at this moment, I cant recall the last time I even ate soup. I would give it at least 15 years but probably many many mire years than that. There were ample bags of various fucking chips available including GRIPPOS but nah, not this time. Actually, some fries would have been ideal maybe with some of that specific GRIPPOS seasoning., on top...yeah...yum. 

The location that TOM + CHEE occupies use to be a HABENEROS a few years back. You can see that the set up for the restaurant isn't really ideal for TOM + CHEE. Actually, the location looked a bit used. Not necessarily dirty, but used. The staff were nice, friendly and courteous. This visit was a long tine in the making... Like I said I don't get down to Newport verily much these days. I liked my selections but soon thereafter a brief walk around the dying concept of the American Mall, known this time as Newport On The Levee that's full of stores I cant afford to shop at, or aren't interested in shopping at or full of attractions and accompanying restaurants that I cant afford... I was hungry for more grilled cheeses!

The meal didn't stick with me.... In fact, getting up away from TOM + CHEE, I was still hungry... I could have had maybe two full sandwiches (if not more) in my sitting... But if I had done this, my bill would have been over $30. 

I'm in search for MY spot... The place that is truly a treat for me to step foot in and pleasure for me to spend money at. A place where value, location, atmosphere, taste and quantity all jive together and unify as one for MY SPOT. I don't have a certain spot (Skyline Chili is close) but I am certain that TOM + CHEE, especially this location, is not it.

I will award TOM + CHEE 3/5 and can say that I would love to visit one if their other locations and urge you to overlook the Levee location unless you have other business to attend there and a stop at TOM + CHEE is a bonus visit. One fay I will take on another BBQ BACON (or two) and another selection. I could honestly eat about $20 of sandwiches in one sitting I feel... I guess my appetite is a bit dangerous in a place like TOM + CHEE...

I want to say a bit more about how unappealing Newport On The Levee really is to myself and a family like mine but really, what I said already is enough. Whats the use of going on and on about it? Newport on the Levee is just another example in the over saturation in places like itself. Everywhere you look there us someplace to shop at stocked with overpriced break-apart throwaway goods. In fact, everywhere you look there is another restaurant where every meal is either $20, $30, $40 or more dollars to visit. Its disparaging times we live in and the businesses we surround ourselves with show the true mismanagement of valuable resources, time and brainpower. Its been quite sometime since I have been to the Levee and I think its going to be quite sometime before I'm there again in any capacity.

There's just something about an aquarium attraction being adjacent to such a muddy river... But really, this article was about TOM + CHEE a place that I possibly could say was a let down due to my defining characteristics in what I am personally looking for in a good restaurant and 'my spot' but I also want to say that TOM + CHEE is a place I want to, at least, revisit the concept thereof at another location... Anytime I want more of something, its a good thing and I'm left from my initial visit to TOM + CHEE wanting more and definitely wanting to see what else they have to offer.

TOM + CHEE: See ya sometime soon I suppose.

Newport on The Levee: Fuck off continually.

I said continually.

(Tom Chee Mug Shot)