By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Bread, cheese and a grill

There's just something about a grilled cheese sandwich that provides comfort, as well as sustenance, on a chilly February day.

And when the sandwich also includes extras such as bacon, exotic cheeses or a side of tomato soup, that's ... well, that's something extra special.

Especially if eating that sandwich helps other people to have the sustenance they need.

Grilled cheese, special touches and the chance to help others combine in The Melt Down, the annual food-based fundraiser for the Yamhill County food bank.

The Melt Down runs Feb. 1 to 28. Participants are going to have to chew quickly, since more than a month's worth of restaurants are offering grilled cheese specials this year. 

One sandwich a day? Not if you want to try them all. You're going to have to try grilled cheese for breakfast or an afternoon snack, as well as lunch and dinner, to get the full — and we do mean FULL — Melt Down experience.

This year's crop of grilled cheese sandwiches runs the gamut from a mixture of cheeses melted on sourdough to cheese fondue, gluten-free fritters and an assortment of breads. Mac Market's "You Turn Me Naan," for instance, takes diners to India with saag curry sauce and crispy paneer on naan, a traditional flat bread.

Other specials have names such as "Over the Moon," "Better than Your Momma's," "Big Baby Cheesus," "Dirty Bird," "Hawaiian Melt," "Jack of All Cheese" and "Cheezanator."

The list even includes a spicy cheese popcorn this year, offered by Miss Hannah’s Gourmet Popcorn Co. of Newberg.


Each restaurant or shop will donate $2 per Melt Down sandwich or bag of popcorn they sell. In recent years, the annual fundraiser has brought in $13,000 to $15,000 a year for the food bank, operated by the Yamhill Community Action Partnership, or YCAP.

The money helps the food bank continue programs such as Harvest to Home, which provides fresh produce to people in need, and to purchase additional food to supplement donations, said Taylor McLean Down of YCAP organizes the Melt Down.

"Every dollar goes a long way to help people," said McLean Down, who took over from Diane Longaker, who started the fundraiser in 2017. Longaker now works with Juliette's House.

In addition to providing food, McLean Down said, the fundraiser is a great way to make people aware of the food bank, the need for food, and YCAP in general.

"We want to get the word out there, and this really does that," she said.


To prepare for the 2022 fundraiser, McClean Down said she contacted all the places that took part last year.

Most were eager to grill cheese again, although a few had to say no because of staffing difficulties, she said.

She also contacted those that had participated in the past but skipped 2021 because of COVID regulations. Several are returning, including McMenamins, the Dundee Bistro, Evergreen Aviation Museum, Barley & Vine, and Social Goods.

A few new restaurants have joined the Melt Down this year, as well, such as Carlton to Coast Tavern, Youngberg Hill, Honey Pie Pizza and Old Town Bar & Grill.

And some, such as The Diner, Ribslayer and Golden Valley, have been mainstays since the Melt Down began.

A Sandwich Guide + Map is available showing all the locations that are participating in the Melt Down. It can be picked up from businesses or downloaded from YCAP's Melt Down web page.

Diners can collect a stamp from each place where they order the Melt Down special. Seven stamps wins them a Melt Down wooden coaster; 14 wins a lunch bag; 21 a T-shirt and 28 an insulated thermal container.

McLean-Down said the swag items will be available at pickup stations midway through February and at the end of the month, as well.

She said she won't be surprised if several Melt Down enthusiast collect 28 stamps, then go on to order more sandwiches before February ends. It's happened before, she said.

"People are very passionate about the Melt Down," she said.

Many post their reviews and photos of sandwiches on the Melt Down Facebook page, too.

McLean-Down herself enjoys the grilled cheese specials each year.

"I tend to order a couple and split them with family members, so I can try more," she said.

By city, Melt Down participants and the contests of their grilled cheese specials are:


n Brooks Wine, cantal jeune and aged extra sharp cheddar on garlic bread, served with tomato bisque,

n The Common Cup, an omelet and cheddar cheese with grilled ham and arugula on sourdough waffles.

n Fred’s Bistro, white cheddar with horseradish, fillet mignon, fig jam, slice pear, chopped pegans and muenser.

n Trade Street Taphouse, pizza grilled cheese on garlic toast.


n Carlton & Coast Tavern, ham and American cheese, tomato, red onion, chives on sourdough.

n The Horse Radish, Mexican spiced roast chicken, mole sauce on Texas toast with chips and chipotle aioli.


n The By-Pass Bar & Grill, American, provolone, cheddar and pepper jack on thick-cut sourdough, encrusted with parmesan, served with choice of side.


n The Dundee Bistro, ciabatta bread with roasted mushrooms, mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, truffle oil and arugula, served with truffle fries.


n 1882 Grille, Port Salut cheese on rustic bread with apples, apple butter and prosciutto.

n Bierly Brewing, gluten-free grilled cheese fritters filled with shredded cheddar and smoked Gouda, served with tomato soup dipping sauce and fried pickles.

n Bistro Maison, white truffle fondue with blend of cheesed, truffle oil, butter and oil served with apples, ham, potatoes and baguette.

n Blue Moon Lounge, sourdough bread with Havarti and cheddar, jalapeno jam and bacon.

n Conservatory Bar, smoked gouda, roasted sweet peppers, apple and poblano pepper chutney.

n The Diner, smoked cheddar and Gouda, smoked tomato bacon jam, apples and red onions on sourdough with tots or fries.

n Elena’s Wine Bar, cheese fondue for two with Gouda and fontina and dipping bites.

n Evergreen Aviation Museum, four cheese panini on sourdough with tomato soup.

n Golden Valley Brewery, Gruyere, goat cheese, proscuitto and fig jam on rustic sourdough.

n Grain Station, swiss parmesan crust outside and cheddar,white cheddar and havarti inside, served with tomato soup or fries.

n Great Harvest Bread Co., mandarin orange jelly, cheddar and provolone cheeses, apple and bacon on choice of bread.

n Harvest Fresh, baked ham and melted brie with fig jam on ciabatta bread.

n Laughing Bean Bistro, pepper jack, taco meat, tomato, lettuce, avacado cream sauce,

n Mac Market, naan bread grilled cheese with saag curry sauce and crispy paneer.

n McMenamins Hotel Oregon, provolone, Swiss and Tillamook cheddar on sourdough, finished with garlic pamesan butter, served with tomato soup.

n Ribslayer BBQ To Go, jalapeno poppers and brisket.

n WildWood Café, sourdough bread with Munster cheese, basil pesto and bacon with salad or fries

n Youngberg Hill, sourdough with brie, apple, cranberry sauce and bacon.


n Barley and Vine Tavern, prosciutto, tomato, pesto and fontina cheese on sage butter-rubbed sourdough.

n Chehalem Valley Brewing Co., garlic aioli, parmesan cheese outside with cheddar and pepper jack inside, with beer cheese for dipping and beer crusted French fries.

n Good Company Cheese Bar & Bistro, cheese fondue for two with baguette and apples.

n Honey Pie Pizza, focaccia with bacon jam, mozzarella and pecarino.

n Jem 100 Ice Cream, sourdough with Tillamook cheddar, Carlton Farms beef patty, bacon, barbecue sauce, white cheddar, pepper jack and Swiss, served with cheesy fries.

n J’s Family Restaurant & Lounge, Monterey jack encrusted sourdough with bacon, turkey, grilled tomatoes, more jack and ranch dressing.

n Miss Hannah’s Gourmet Popcorn Co., a mix of popcorns: caramel popcorn mixed with cheesy cheddar popcorn, plus Smokin' Chipotle Cheddar flavored with smoked habanero powder.

n The Newbergundian Bistro, grilled five cheese sandwich with tomato jam.

n Old Town Bar & Gril, brie and smoked apple panini.

n Social Goods, four cheeses, "a small hint of garlic and sweetness," on brioche, with a side of tomato soup topped with basic pesto and croutons.


n Coyote Joe’s Restaurant, parmesan-coated sourdough, Canadian bacon, pineapple, pepper jack and mozzarella, served with tossed salad or fries.



Web Design and Web Development by Buildable