By far, the most exciting piece of news I received recently was that Murray’s, the greatest cheese shop in all the land, had just introduced a create-your-own panini counter. Because the only thing better than cheese from Murray’s is cheese from Murray’s that is melted between two slices of chewy, toasty, buttery bread.
So, for lunch last week, we at The L Magazine decided to taste-test eight of these creations, carefully choosing and combining ingredients from the forty that Murray’s offers. A base sandwich costs $3.99 and consists of your choice of buttered bread and cheese, but things become more complicated (and expensive) if you’re tempted by delicacies like quince paste, Niman Ranch smoked ham, or Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. Most sandwiches we tried ended up costing $5-$6, which is actually pretty affordable. In addition to sandwiches, Murray’s is also serving up milkshakes made with Van Leeuwen ice cream, which means they’re fancy, I think.
“Murray’s Melts”, as the new venture is called, only started serving customers out of the Bleecker Street location a week ago, which is obvious as soon as you step into the chaotic shop. A vein in the cashier’s forehead nearly exploded when I handed her my long list of sandwiches. Right now, the biggest flaw in Murray’s Melts is the ordering system. Rather than having customers fill out order forms while they wait in a long, jumbled line, the cashier fills them out when customers reach the register. The fifteen people that joined the line while I ordered eventually turned into an angry mob and herded me out of the shop with torches and pitchforks.
Back at the office, everyone was starving because the trip from Dumbo to the West Village took, like, an hour. We tried the soupy chocolate milkshake first, and decided it was pretty good. After tearing into the sandwiches, we agreed that they were tasty, with a nice balance of ingredients and melted cheese. But they weren’t pressed long enough to achieve the golden outer crust that's a staple of the finest grilled cheese sandwiches. Let’s be honest, they were flaccid. This could also be avoided if Murray’s offered crusty bread in addition to white, wheat, rye, and Eli’s “health loaf” (whatever the fuck that is.)
But enough of my kvetching. On to the melts!
White bread and Manchego
White, Fontina, artichoke, roasted garlic, and tomato
White, young goat Gouda, roast beef, and caramelized onions
White, gruyere, Niman ham, and Dijon
Eli’s health loaf, young goat Gouda, and onion fig jam
White, Sopressata, and smoked mozzarella
Wheat, turkey, bacon, NY State Cheddar, and tomato
White, fresh mozzarella, and Prosciutto di Parma
“Fuck, I have the worst breath ever right now,” complained Music Editor Mike Conklin after our feast. Almost everybody agreed that the sandwiches were a little soggy, but Editor-in-Chief Jonny Diamond liked their squishy quality. “It made me feel a bit like a little kid, actually, with the white bread and the softness,” he said.
Floppiness aside, I couldn’t resist eating a leftover half at 5pm, mostly because I usually spend about 75% of my day scavenging for food. After reviving the panini in the toaster oven, it was crispier than it had been when I first tried it at lunchtime. Murray’s Melts has a few flaws, but if all they need to do to fix the sandwiches is toast them longer, I’ll be back there again soon.