From the days when grandma welcomed you to stay with cheesy squares of toast, to your dirty George Foreman left forgotten in student halls, the hot melting toastie has always been there. It was comfort food - but not winning Michelin stars.
Well, times have changed. Some of the top independents across Bristol have begun a toastie revolution. The toast is thicker (and artisanal), the chutney is chunky, and that crucial golden crust is always present.
Here's our toast to the grilled cheese toasties leading the Bristol revolution!
Hart's Bakery, Temple Meads
Would you expect any less from Bristol's best-known artisan bakery? Talk about hart-warming. Laura Hart and her team understand that quality extras are key when it comes to this dish. The wholemeal sourdough toast is good enough to eat straight. The cheese is sourced from Westcombe Cheddar, rich and strong, and the addition of grainy mustard and spring onions is simple yet spot on.
Bar Buvette, Baldwin Street
Bar Buvette's toastie is a Friday favourite of the Wriggle team. This is the toastie posh-style. And would you expect any less from this haven of French culinary excellence? Expect Hart's bakery bread a little more toasty than standard, which gives a great crunch. Soft leeks burst out from between first-grade Montgomery cheese, and the French mustard packs a punch. It's the side of salty pickles that gets the taste buds really going.
25A, Old Market
No. 25A holds the toastie fort over in Old Market. With coffee and deli provisions the focus, the toasties are the chief lunchtime offering - and they're a labour of much love. Owner Chris knows a lot about quality grub, and combines extravagant fillings including ox cheek and cheese, layered with mayo for a creamy contrast to the crunch - all served with a side of seed-scattered salad.
This mountain of melting cheese, between dense sourdough bread, is well-worth the walk up Whiteladies Road. The 'Bakesmiths' Grilled Cheese' has its own section on the menu, and is made up of special additions. The three-cheese combination and the béchamel sauce recipe is top secret - but it's bloody lovely. Each mouthful is a heavenly combination of creamy, silky sauce and crispy fried onions.
Bristol Cider Shop, Whapping Wharf
Bristol Cider Shop has jumped on the food train that is Whapping Wharf's CARGO. Predominantly a supplier of premium ciders from the West Country and beyond, it now serves up a fantastic toastie to accompany your crisp pint of applejack. And it's a match made in heaven. It starts with a base of Hobb's sourdough bread, two cheeses from Bristol Cheesemonger, plus an extra dash of sweet cider.
Kitchen and Crust, St Nicholas Street
On a toastie hunt in the city centre? Then Kitchen and Crust is a must. The dapper hands at this cosy cafe bake a beautiful open crumb loaf. We love the toastie lunch deal with a drink, made using mild creamy cheddar, and seasoned with red onion and parsley (though there's usually a couple of combinations available). Top tip: look out for the chilli jam, or ask for some slathered on the side.
Tincan, Clare Street
Tincan Coffee Co. are masters in pouring award-winning creamy flat whites. The latest venture is a huge cafe on Clare Street where you can grab, you guessed it, a cracking melted-cheese toastie. There's four solid options: a Rarebit, made with Wiper & True Stout and oak bacon jam; oak-smoked mushroom with pink pickled onions; hearty ham and cheese made with emmental and ham hock; and The Classic, combining cave-aged cheddar with Devon picked onion, plus a hot dollop of Dijon.
For Mice and Men, Harbourside Market
As the name suggests, the merry men behind this venture share a love of cheese with mice. Their toasties are born of a 'Cheese Dream'. They take inspiration from traditional American recipes, and are served from a mouse-sized van. Every little ingredient is given utmost attention. Rotating guest cheese is sourced from the South West and Somerset. The butter is homemade from the milk of a single dairy cow, Daisy. The unrivalled Mark's Bread sourdough is delivered from Southville. Win, win, win. Find them at The Harbourside Market.
Emmeline, Stokes Croft
And we'll round off with something from the lovely Emmeline. Their 'Adventures in Grilled Sarnies' are documented on Instagram and too tempting to resist. Blue cheese, kale, spinach, chilli jam and tomato is the standard affair. Expect cheeky extras like jalapeños or salsa verde. Deeeeelish.
Bonus extra: Roulsties (Clifton)
Since we released this article, there was an outcry from Bristolian toastie lovers that went something like this: "Where the dickens is Roulsties in this list?". The outpouring was pretty widespread so we took action and spoke to a Roulsties lover for a review.
"Specialising in carefully constructed and delicately cooked sourdough toasted sandwiches, Roulsties certainly know how to make a fine toastie. Serving up these delights from a pop-up stall at Whiteladies Road Market, the mastermind behind the operation isn't afraid to experiment with flavours to deliver an array of culinary surprises, including a tantalising new special every week. Favouring local produce wherever possible, their fillings (including home-made chutney) combine with a nutty, smooth and creamy Somerset Cheddar to take you straight to cheese nirvana. Whether you're longing for the taste of smoky bacon, sweet tomato chutney or cider-roasted sausage, there will always be an option to satisfy… which will be stuffed between two bouncy slices of sourdough freshly baked and delivered by Bordeaux Quay. Hats off, boys!"
I think you can guess where we'll be this weekend...