Under normal circumstances, the most popular order at Grill 32 is a burger.
“We serve the patties smashed, like at Town Topic or Freddy’s, and a lot of people tell us they’re the best in the city,” said Rachel Mills, owner of the western Wyandotte County restaurant.
But on Thursday, the star of the menu was a different item: the New Heights Club. The sandwich is a tribute to pro football brothers Travis and Jason Kelce, who host a podcast of the same name.
It has been on Grill 32’s menu since February, but the Kelces mentioned it on Wednesday’s episode of “New Heights” after a listener wrote in about it. (Find the segment at about the 6-minute mark.)
“We’ve sold 30 of them so far today,” Mills said around 6 p.m. “We usually sell about one a day.”
She was wearing a Chiefs hat and big hoop earrings, and she was hustling back and forth between taking orders at the counter and helping her lone cook in the kitchen. She was apologetic about the wait. “We were on the news today,” she told a customer.
The restaurant is a small, diner-style mom-and-pop in an old brick building at 104 S. Fourth St. in Edwardsville. It has black-and-white checkerboard tile, pop-culture ephemera on the walls, a side counter and about five tables. A red Kansas City Chiefs flag flies above the sidewalk out front.
As for the sandwich of the moment: It is a preposterous creation.
On top is a Philly cheesesteak, in tribute to Jason, a center for the Eagles. The bottom half is a BLT that comes with your choice of turkey or ham, slathered in mayo and barbecue sauce, the latter the culinary stock-in-trade of the city in which Travis plays. Three slices of Texas toast are assigned the grueling task of holding this Frankenstein together.
I couldn’t fit the sandwich into my mouth.
After a few failed attempts, I split the New Heights Club ($17.95, side of fries included) in the middle, creating two sandwiches out of one.
I preferred the Philly cheese section, which comes with steak, onions, bell peppers, provolone cheese, cheese sauce and something called 32 Sauce, which Mills would only tell me is “mayonnaise-based.”
Travis’ half made less sense to me. I might have been able to handle the full New Heights Club were it not for the wad of turkey on the BLT part. A BLT is already a perfect sandwich; it doesn’t need more meat, especially on a sandwich that also includes a Philly cheesesteak. It probably doesn’t need barbecue sauce, either, although then it would lose its tenuous KC connection.
But none of this is really the point. The point is to order the New Heights Club so you can say you ate it, kind of like KFC’s Double Down (a bacon and cheese sandwich with two fried chicken filets instead of a bun) and other stunt foods.
And on those terms, we must hand it to Mills and Grill 32. To the extent that I ate the New Heights Club, I am glad I ate it.
I will be coming back to Grill 32 soon, too — for one of those smash burgers.