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Grandwich 2014 sampled: day three brings quality, high marks, few disappointments

The third day of tasting all of the Grandwiches in one week had us discovering a high favorite, and a favorite day of options overall.
Osteria Rossa's Porchetta Sandwich

Osteria Rossa's Porchetta Sandwich /Tory O'Haire

Try it for yourself

[Read here about Grandwich 2014 day one.]

[See day two's assessment here.]

[See day four's final sandwiches here.]



Description and information is pulled directly from the Grandwich webpage. For more information and where to vote visit the official site.

Osteria Rossa

  • Porchetta Sandwich
  • $10.00
  • Stuffed Creswick Farms pork belly topped with a fried Creswick Farms egg, local arugala, and cherry mostarda served on Field and Fire focaccia. Served with homemade rosemary potato chips. 
  • 16 Monroe Center St. NE
  • Suite 100
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Bistro at Courtyard by Marriott

  • Grilled Caprese Sandwich
  • $12.95
  • Grilled local heirloom tomatoes from D&L Farms, Organic local fried basil leaves, Fresh mozzarella, and Caramelized cipollini onions. All served on Nantucket Bakery's sourdough bread that has been brushed with our homemade basil oil. Served with fried asparagus and drizzled with a balsamic reduction.
  • Hours: 11:00AM-11:00PM Mon-Sun
  • 11 Monroe Ave NW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

A Moveable Feast

  • Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese
  • $6.00
  • House-made bread filled with Tillamook cheddar cheese and homemade bacon jam made with Crestwick Farms bacon, Jordan Valley Farms maple syrup, and Crisp Country Acres onions. Grilled to melty perfection. 
  • Hours: Tue - Fri 11 am - 1pm
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum
  • 101 Monroe Center St
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Bagger Dave's

  • Crazy Train
  • $9.50
  • 4 oz beef patty with Sloppy Dave's BBQ sauce, Bagger Made potato chips, cucumber, banana pepper, roasted red pepper, pickle, and malt vinegar relish, and french onion sauce. Served on a pretzel bun.
  • 241 W. Fulton St.
  • Grand Rapids, mi 49503

  • $11.00
  • A combination of S&S Farms lamb pastrami and lightly smoked Otto's chicken breast on Nantucket Rye with Grassfield's Farms organic gouda, Michigan mustard, pickled radishes, and Great Lakes potato chips. 
  • Hours: 11:30am-2pm
  • 235 Louis St. NW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

CitySen Lounge in CityFlats Hotel

  • Gwammich
  • $10.00
  • Quincy Street turkey, Michigan peaches, cashews, taleggio, gruyere, baby kale, and chipotle honey dressing on a fresh-made waffle. 
  • Hours: 11:00AM- 11:00PM Mon-Sun
  • 83 Monroe Center NW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Fish Lads

  • Lobster Roll
  • $19.00
  • Fresh Maine lobster meat, Chive from Michigan Fine Herb (Shelbyville), Celery from Victory Farm (Hudsonville), Field & Fire (Grand Rapids) Hoagie Bun, Clarified Butter, served with house-cut fries.
  • Hours: Mon - Sat: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm Sun: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • 435 Ionia Ave SW
  • Suite 107
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Rak Thai

  • Grand Mini Me "Mini Bahn Mi"
  • no price listed
  • Michigan pork belly with cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon, housemade pate, sriracha mayo, and cilantro on a steam bun. 
  • Hours: Daily 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • 435 Ionia Ave SW
  • Suite A124
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Rowster New American Coffee

  • The Artisan
  • $8.00
  • Smoking Goose Meatery's Capocollo Di Dorman on a Field and Fire artisan loaf with Dancing Goat Creamery herb whipped butter cream cheese and house-made red pepper gremolata. 
  • Hours: 11:00am to 3:00 pm
  • 632 Wealthy
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Bistro at Courtyard by Marriott's Grllled Caprese Sandwich

The Bistro at Courtyard by Marriott's Grllled Caprese Sandwich /Holly Bechiri

A Moveable Feast's Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese

A Moveable Feast's Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese /Holly Bechiri

As we grow weary of sandwich after sandwich, your loyal Grandwich judges continue to strive to tour you around the competition and highlight the “don’t-miss” and “don’t-bother” entries. This day features a long bill of entries, but we were fortunate to have found a few shining stars—not to mention a few dim bulbs.

Osteria Rossa

Author's note: In having been nominated to write this article, I was laid down a challenge to write in verse. As I’m both an English nerd and stubborn enough to accept most any challenge, I figured a sonnet in homage to our favorite would be just appropriate enough.  -TO

With great fanfare, ‘twas Osteria rose

To top the sandwich scales despite the truth

That but short time has seen their just-op’ed doors.

They prove a first attempt can win, forsooth.


With side of pork braised perfectly- and charr’d-

Above the belly off’rd by rival cooks

Cherries ripe with mustardseed adorn’d

Arugula to draw envious looks


‘Twas only this which earned a perfect ten

And only this we’d beg to eat again.

In all seriousness, this was exactly what any of us judges would define as a perfect sandwich. Classic enough to appeal to a wide range of palates, but interesting enough to not be passed over. The flavors and textures were clear and impeccably balanced, and we could definitely taste the quality of the ingredients.

This was one of several sandwiches that utilized pork belly, but it was the only one we all agreed was perfectly cooked: some creamy fat, but enough meatiness to keep it from getting “gooey”, some crispy-chewy exterior bits, and just enough seasoning to bring out—but not cover up the “porkiness.” Plus, we loved the homemade potato chips and homemade pickles on the side that were tasty, but delicate enough to not overpower the “star.” In a word: lovely.


Courtyard at the Marriott

We were extremely pleased with this year’s offering from the Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott. Several of us judges admitted to expecting very little when faced with a “grilled caprese sandwich.” I think we all planned to see a passe riff on a grilled cheese done by an uninspired chef on an off day. We were sharply corrected on our first bites, however.

The sandwich does a fabulous job of paying homage to its namesake, the Caprese salad, but adds interest with the inclusion of some balsamic vinegar, garlic, and caramelized onions—three very pronounced flavors that I for one was expecting to ruin the sandwich, but they were used with such balance that they proved surprisingly harmonious. Plus, the chef chose to use great quality heirloom tomatoes, which really “made” the sandwich.

Our one unanimous critique was that between the onions, the cheese, the fried basil leaves, the fried sandwich, and the fried asparagus (which we LOVED) on the side, the sandwich came off a bit oily. We questioned if some of the “frying” could be held-off, or used more purposefully.


A Moveable Feast

Our third-top choice of the day, we loved A Moveable Feast’s bacon grilled cheese, with a few reservations.

A crunchy, melty grilled cheese filled with a housemade bacon-onion marmalade, we loved the textures overall, though the judges were split on the bread: two of us felt it was a little too dense, two of us thought the firmness was a necessary counterpoint to the saucy insides. We all agreed, however, that with all that bacon and cheese, it was begging for a break from the richness. We would have loved to see a slice or two of fresh tomato, or even a side of some fresh pickles, and then for sure we would have kept going for more. Without the break, however, our palates got tired of cheese after awhile.


Bagger Dave's

We were decidedly nonplussed by Bagger Dave’s entry: a burger on a standard pretzel bun, topped with a banana pepper relish and potato chips. It was tasty enough, but did nothing impressive in any direction for any of the judges. We felt that it seemed like a perfectly standard burger that, while enjoyable enough, we questioned why it was “special” enough to be the Grandwich. was a split among the judges. A riff on a classic reuben with lamb pastrami and pickled radishes, I personally really enjoyed the flavors, and found it interesting and tasty (albeit a bit salty), but several other judges found the radishes too harsh and the flavors unbalanced. One thing on which we all agreed: it was a surprising offering from, seeming much more at home in a brewpub. The public will have to break our tie for us.



While we all debated CitySen’s grammar usage (Is “sen” supposed to be pronounced phonetically? And what the heck is a “gwammwich”?), the judges all agreed that their entry was ambitious, but fell a bit short. I, for one, was very excited about the description, as it had a lot of my favorites on board: waffles, taleggio and fresh peaches.

Unfortunately, whether it was in the construction of our particular sandwich, or in the architecture of using a Belgian waffle as the base, the bites were very non-standard. We all found it really difficult to get the elements all in one bite. At first bite, I had mostly turkey with nothing else, the second bite was almost all dry waffle, and it wasn’t until my third bite that I went “oh! That’s pretty good!”

Pretty good indeed, but the execution cost it enough to keep it out of our favorites.



This was another split decision in the judges, receiving both very high scores and very low scores. FishLads offered up a classic Lobster Roll with fresh lobster meat and a side of their stellar fries.

After much deliberation, we came to the following agreement: this is a delicious Lobster Roll- especially for the Midwest. If, like me, you get nostalgic for the coast of Maine now and again, you will be very satisfied. If, however, you don’t have that connection with Lobster Rolls, or worse, have never had one, this may come across as a little mild and bland, with little flavor outside of the lobster, some butter, and a bit of celery.


Rak Thai

Rak Thai offered up their Bahn Mi to the judges, and we were fairly satisfied. Filled with fresh vegetables, pickled daikon, pate, pork, and cilantro, we loved the fresh crunchy textures and appreciated a variation from the cheese-heavy contenders in the rest of the competition.

Unfortunately, we found the Banh Mi a little imperfect when put to competition standards. While tasty, the sandwich craved a bit of vinegar/sour, which was strangely absent from the pickles. The pate was also flavorless, which is unfortunate as that is my personal favorite part of any Bahn Mi.



Rowster threw its hat in the ring this year with a boursin-cheese-laced Coppa sandwich, and, while ambitious, was sorely disappointing. The judges all felt that the flavors seemed all over the place and not well-realized. The red pepper “gremolata” was seemingly just a profusion of sliced red pepper, and the bread, while locally made, was too thick and dry enough to make us question its freshness. Our least favorite of the day.


Let us know in the comments what you've tried, or hashtag #RapidianEats on Instagram or Facebook with shots of your own Grandwich experiences.

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