Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Zeek's Cheese Grill

Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Location: SE 82nd and Harney at Cartlandia
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:30-7; Fri/Sat, 11:30-9

The Story: Who doesn’t like grilled cheese? There are some extremely successful food trucks and food carts around the nation who have succeeded with putting cheese between two slices of bread, grilling it to perfection and selling it to the masses. Zeek’s Cheese Grill at Cartlandia is the latest to offer up that childhood delight.

Zeek’s Cheese Grill offers up an array of appetizing delights. Not just grilled cheese sandwiches, although that is what I enjoyed. The menu offers soups, sides like roasted jalapeño fondue, a few types of Mac and Cheese and some fresh cart made salads. Just the other day they posted photos of pickles made fresh that morning. Sandwiches range from the classic with American cheese all the way to the Ciao with fresh mozzarella, basil, semi dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction and black pepper. The Canard caught my attention with duck confit, brie and bacon caramelized onion jam. Whew! Writing that made my tummy rumble. Crisp buttered bread sandwiched in the unctuous and delightfully salty duck confit. The caramelized onion jam with a hint of bacon added sweetness to balance it all out. Dip an edge in the tomato soup and dive in. An excellent sandwich.

Zeek's Cheese Grill

Canard from Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Zeek’s is open daily for lunch and dinner with extended hours on the weekend. Beyond the cheese grill, they have daily specials, numerous flavors of lemonade and assorted teas. At Cartlandia, there is covered seating along with The Blue Room bar so you can relax and enjoy your meal. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Soups – Tomato Basil Cream, Tomato Gorgonzola, Spicy Tomato – $3 cup or $5 bowl
  • Roasted Jalapeno Fondue – $5.80
  • Four Cheese Mac & Cheese – $7
  • Caramelized onion, Gorgonzola and bacon Mac & Cheese – $8
  • Julienne Kale and Romaine Salad – $6
  • The Classic Grilled Cheese – $4
  • Oregon Grilled Sandwich – Brie, Oregon pears, gorgonzola, caramelized onion bacon – $7.80
  • Canard – $9.80
  • Ciao – $7.80

Facebook: Zeek’s Cheese Grill
Twitter: @ZeeksCheeseGrill

EthelKays Grilled Cheese & Lemonade

EthyKays Grilled Cheese and Lemonade

EthelKays Grilled Cheese and Lemonade

Location: N Williams Ave between Failing and Shaver
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm

The Story: A simple grilled cheese sandwich is a treat for anyone, young or old. Melty is the word I’m thinking of. EthelKays Grilled Cheese and Lemonade is the newest food cart in town serving up delightful little morsels of cheese and bread.

Julie McBee opened the EthelKays food cart in 2013 in the Cully district in NE Portland after many years working in the service industry and restaurants. She always knew she wanted her own business and used the different positions to educate herself in cooking and managing a business. Before the cart was launched, Julie and her former partner had a stand at the Woodstock Farmers Market selling lemonade and grilled cheese – that business is still there named Urban Cheese. Julie moved on, opening the cart and then after a year in NE, moved to N Williams avenue, posting up next to Lodekka and the Hopworks Bike Bar. A prime location for any vendor.

The Tuscan from EthylKays

The Tuscan from EthelKays

EthelKay’s Grilled Cheese and Lemonade focuses on just that – cheese and lemons. Yet, with an extra bit of love. On the menu, you’ll find hot gooey grilled cheese sandwiches made with everything from cheddar to bacon to avocado to fruit and veggie chips. Think of it and she probably has it. Being a fan of tomatoes, basil and balsamic, I chose the Tuscan with buffalo Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, balsamic and olive oil grilled between two slices of a bolo roll. Toasted just right, the Mozzarella doesn’t get really melty, but the flavors all infuse creating what I refer to as a reverse Margherita pizza. Every chomp –  balsamic and oil blended with tomato juices dripped down my chin. I didn’t mind a bit. A great choice of bread made it even better than expected.

Julie has a great little cart with an amazing menu. Her lemonade is made fresh with wedges of lemon to make it extra tangy. I can’t wait till summer when I can sit on the curb, enjoy one and people watch. Drop on by next time you’re in the neighborhood and let Julie know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Ruthie – como bread, cheddar, sharp cheddar and havartti – $5
  • Pappy – como bread, chaddar, sharp cheddar, havartti, bacon and tomato – $7
  • French Connection – bolo roll, brie, pear, arugula, balsamic, olive oil – $6.50
  • Tuscan – $6
  • Monte Cristo – como bread, swiss, gruyere, black forest ham, dijon, blackberry jam, dipped in egg, grilled and dusted with powdered sugar – $7.50
  • Soups – $3
  • Spicy Peanut Noodles – noodles, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, peapods, peanuts, asian pepper sauce – $4
  • Lemonade – $3
  • Raspberry Lemonade – $3.50

Website: EthelKaysGrilledCheese.com
Facebook: EthelKays Grilled Cheese
Twitter: @EthelKaysCheese

The Cheese Plate PDX

Lizzy Caston

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 12pm-3pm, Sunday: 11am-3pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 5pm-10pm, Friday, Saturday: 5pm-11pm, Sunday: 5pm-9pm
NE 23rd and Alberta (2231 NE Alberta St)

The Story: “Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality” – Clifton Paul Fadiman. Many of us love cheese more than any other food. It’s pure poetry in all its oozy, sometimes crumbly, often stinky glory. Indeed, some cheese lovers border on the fanatical.

For me, there’s nothing more civilized than a beautiful cheese plate made with care. Little tidbits spread out like jewels to be nibbled and savored, accompanied by friends and conversation. Even the most humble meal can become a memorable experience with the inclusion of some bread or crackers, a bit of fruit and/or pickles, perhaps some charcuterie, and a well-chosen quality cheese or two.

The Cheese Plate PDX’s Cheese Plate

The Cheese Plate PDX, a new addition to Portland’s cart scene, gives cheese the respect it deserves. No cold rubbery Brie or neon orange Cheddar here. This is not a cart for those seeking a quick, cheap, shove-it-in-your mouth sandwich. How uncivilized! No, the Cheese Cart is for the gourmandes and gourmands among us – either dining al fresco on the gravel lot The Cheese Plate is located on, or as a boxed to-go picnic or take-home treat.

The Cheese Plate is the brainchild of Nick and Carina, two well seasoned food professionals who met at San Francisco’s well lauded Lulu restaurant. Here’s the story of how the cheese plate came be as written on The Cheese Plate’s Website. (Spoiler, Nick and Carina fell in love on their first date sharing a very nice blue cheese, and the rest is history).

Cheese at the Cheese Plate does indeed come in the form of a cheese plate, with a selection based on the finest the chef can find, rounded out to include a trio of goat cheeses, and that well-loved  French peasant “cheese spread” known as Fromage Fort. The day I sampled the cheese plate at the CP, it was a nice focus on Oregon Artisan cheeses of all types soft, hard, aged and not, perfect for the cool summer day. Well done!

The Cheese Plate PDX’s Picnic Plate

To go along with my cheese I ordered the Picnic Plate. This pretty little board was a revelation – as fantastic as anything you’ll find in Portland’s high-end restaurants. It features a “make your own” plate from items such as Wild Mushroom and Kale Pâté, Blue and Green Stuffed Olives with Goat and Blue Cheeses, Melon with Ginger Sea Salt, and Soft Boiled Eggs with Truffle and Seaweed Caviar, and other sophisticated playful dishes. The Seaweed Caviar that showed up in a few dishes on the Picnic Plate was  something I’ve read about, but had not tried before. I’m happy I did. It’s the perfect addition to cheese and accompanying dishes, with the same pop and salty/briny bite as regular caviar, as well as its own unique vegetal taste. As a bonus it’s also a sustainable food source. I’m smitten!

Other offerings at The Cheese Plate include Garden Vegetable and Cheese Sandwich (the types of cheese/veggies depends on what’s fresh and in season), Fried Cheese Sticks (no, these aren’t the dive bar menu kind), and specials such as a Scotch Rarebit, and open-faced sandwich with egg, tomato, onion and melted Cheddar on toast.  Vegans have some wonderful choices here as well, including a Vegan Cheese Fromage Fort and side bites such as kale chips, pickles, and other Vegan treats. This is an equal opportunity cart. As they just opened this July, expect The Cheese Plate’s menu to evolve during the next few months. We look forward to returning to see what else they have in store.

Congratulations to The Cheese Plate, for bringing more cheese food of the gods to Portland!

Sample Menu:

  • Cheese Plate (rotating offerings) and crackers/bread – $8
  • Picnic Plate (make your own) – 4 choices for $8 or order a la carte.
    • -Wild Mushroom and Kale Pate with Seaweed Caviar – $3
    • Corn and Potato Salad with White Truffle Oil Aioli – $3
    • - Melon with Ginger Sea Salt  – $2
    • Today’s House Made Pickles – $2
    • Hazelnut and Popcorn Party Mix – $2
    • Garden Vegetable and Cheese Sandwich – $6
    • Pacific NW Kale Chips – $3
    • Green and Black Stuffed Olives with Goat and Blue Cheeses – $3

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 12pm-3pm, Sunday: 11am-3pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 5pm-10pm, Friday, Saturday: 5pm-11pm, Sunday: 5pm-9pm
Phone: 503-422-8707
Facebook: TheCheesePlatePDX
Twitter: @PDXCheesePlate