Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company ‘beefs up’ menu

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Claire Lowe / Co-owner Steve Novak stands in front of The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company on Laurel Drive in Somers Point. Claire Lowe / Co-owner Steve Novak stands in front of The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company on Laurel Drive in Somers Point.

SOMERS POINT – With the introduction of a smaller but more versatile menu for the winter, Steve Novak aims to give fans of The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company the staples they have come to love – and more.

“They’re still going to be able to get their grilled cheese and crab cake fix just like they always have, but now we’ve just added some classic American sandwiches,” he said.

Novak, 27, of Somers Point, who co-owns the restaurant with his parents, Mary and Gary Novak of Bethlehem, Pa., bought the Laurel Drive business four years ago in April. He said he liked what the restaurant had to offer.

“I liked it so much because it’s a unique concept,” he said. “We were able to pick it up and run with it.”

Pretty much everything was changed, except the name and a few of the staple items –mainly the grilled cheese and the crab cake.

“We put our own personal touch on everything,” Novak said.

Prior to this winter, the menu consisted of several pages of items including various types of grilled cheese sandwiches, appetizers and fish dishes.

“It’s gigantic, and it’s really hard to serve as fresh as items as we want to with a menu this big,” Novak said.

He and his partners decided to focus on freshness, he said.

“You get an overall better product at the end of the day when you have a smaller menu," he said.

Novak said the new menu is a work in progress, and he is eager to hear what customers think so he can make adjustments.

“We can take direct feedback from the customer,” Novak said.

Claire Lowe / Texas BBQ burger Claire Lowe / Texas BBQ burger

New items on the menu include burgers and cheesesteaks, and some specialty sandwiches, too.

“It’s winter. People want more hearty options,” he said. “Come Lent, we’re going to re-expand the seafood menu.”

He said he will expand the seafood menu again for the summer, too.

Novak said the new items fill a void in the market.

“We kind of looked around the area and we thought one of the things that was missing was a really good burger,” he said.

Novak uses fresh brioche rolls from Formica Bros. Bakery, toasted slightly, and never-frozen ground beef molded into 1/3-pound patties.

He offers a classic cheeseburger, a Texas BBQ burger, and a mushroom, onion and Swiss option.

The Texas burger is made with tangy Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, melted cheddar cheese and sweet, thinly sliced, caramelized onions.

Novak recreates a classic Philly-style cheesesteak with chipped, grilled rib-eye. It can be ordered “angry,” which means it’s made spicy with pepper jack cheese, grilled jalapeños and spicy red chili sauce. There is also a chicken or buffalo chicken cheesesteak.

“Especially around this area, it’s the classic sandwich,” Novak said.

Claire Lowe / Vietnamese chicken sandwich Claire Lowe / Vietnamese chicken sandwich

He said he is proud to offer some interesting, different sandwiches on the menu, too, including a Vietnamese chicken sandwich.

“It’s a type of sandwich that I bought from a street vendor in New York City and was able to recreate it,” he said.

Novak marinates chicken breast with lime and garlic and serves it on a grilled long roll with pickled carrots and radishes, cilantro, cucumber, red onion and spicy mayonnaise.

There are also new vegetarian options including a veggie quesadilla.

“We go to the produce market every morning,” Novak said, and the ingredients in the quesadilla are likely to change depending on what is available.

It, too, is available “angry.”

Another vegetarian dish is the black and blued portabella mushroom burger, which is served on a brioche bun.

“Every sandwich comes with a side of pickles,” Novak said. 

Claire Lowe / Debbie Town and Dorean Paterson of Marmora enjoy crab melts and soup at The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company on Laurel Drive in Somers Point. Claire Lowe / Debbie Town and Dorean Paterson of Marmora enjoy crab melts and soup at The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company on Laurel Drive in Somers Point.

Fans of the original menu need not worry, he said.

“We still sell our famous crab cakes and cream of crab soup.”

The crab cakes come grilled or ultimate (breaded and deep fried), and are served either as a sandwich or in a basket with fries and slaw.

Then there is the crab melt, a combo crab cake grilled cheese, served on Texas toast with melted Monterey jack.

“The angry crab melt kind of gives the crab melt a run for its money,” Novak said.

The rich cream of crab soup, made with plenty of lump crabmeat, can be ordered angry, too.

“I call that my bill-payer,” Novak said. “I could just sell that, and we can stay open.”

Seven types of soup are made fresh daily.

Desserts are made by Sweet Treats, owned by Mary Lynn Mystrysak, and change often.

Novak offers dine-in, delivery and pickup. The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and closed Sunday.

To learn more, see www.grilledcheeseandcrabcakeco.com.

 Claire Lowe / Crab melt Claire Lowe / Crab melt

Claire Lowe / Cream of crab soup Claire Lowe / Cream of crab soup


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