Review: St. Paul Cheese Shop delivers a rare swing and a miss

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The Cheese Shop’s apple sandwich had too many clashing flavors and textures, and wasn’t worth the $11. *Photo by Joe Klein ’16.*

The Cheese Shop’s apple sandwich had too many clashing flavors and textures, and wasn’t worth the $11. *Photo by Joe Klein ’16.*
The Cheese Shop’s apple sandwich had too many clashing flavors and textures, and wasn’t worth the $11. Photo by Joe Klein ’16.

I never thought I’d say these words, and it pains me so much to write them: I had a bad sandwich from the St. Paul Cheese Shop.

I didn’t even know that was possible, honestly. The few times I splurge on food, it’s always at the Cheese Shop. I’ve used it for self-care, a quick meal when I forgot lunch, or a treat for making it through the week. For something as high-quality and satisfying as the Cheese Shop, I won’t blink twice about paying over $10 for a sandwich. It’s worth it, and I’ve never been disappointed.

Last weekend, I celebrated the unseasonably warm weather by sitting outside and ordering their apple sandwich. I had never seen it on their menu before: it was one of their temporary specials. It looked delicious and autumnal, just what I was hoping for that day. I decided to be brave, and tried it.

The apple sandwich was a sandwich with honeycrisp apples, cheddar or bleu cheese, honey and the option of adding ham. I went all out, ordering it with bleu cheese and the ham. Before the student discount, it was $11.

First impressions: this sandwich was large, larger and heavier than any other Cheese Shop sandwich I’ve ordered. The bread was the same Breadsmith baguette that they use for everything else, but they went all out here piling on the ingredients. For $11, they almost had to.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t even taste the apples. The ham and bleu cheese were so strong and dominant that the apples’ flavor was pretty much gone. It almost seemed they were there just to add texture, and nothing more. Sweet and crispy, there’s no wonder honeycrisp apples are some of the most popular, which made it a real shame that I didn’t even notice them.

The apples were thrown across the sandwich really inconsistently, so some bites had layers of apple slices and some had none. I tried to rearrange the sandwich, but it was tough; the sandwich fell apart when I opened it up.

Unlike most other Cheese Shop sandwiches (except their melts), this one was warm. The bleu cheese was very warm and almost slimy, which was not at all what I expected when I ordered this. Bleu cheese is already a divisive food, and it didn’t fit on this sandwich at all. I’m torn whether the cheddar would have been a better choice, but here the bleu really clashed with the ham, and was so dominant that it was hard to enjoy any other aspect of the sandwich.

I have to give the Cheese Shop credit. This was an adventurous choice of a sandwich, and it’s definitely unlike any other sandwich they regularly offer. The apples and honey were a noble, autumnal aspiration that simply fell short. I’ll keep on eating at the Cheese Shop, obviously. But this sandwich was a necessary reminder of a very important lesson: in this world, nothing’s perfect, not even the Cheese Shop.

Next week: I start reviewing their Cheese Sandwich of the Week, and hope to learn something about cheese in the process.

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