First Impressions: All Square in Minneapolis

All Square recently opened in south Minneapolis, and they’re a grilled cheese joint with a social justice mission: to provide employment to individuals who have been incarcerated. There’s also an educational aspect as far as helping these individuals learn about running small businesses or pursuing a legal career. I love the premise behind this and the desire of the founders to help reduce recidivism.

I recently stopped by for a late lunch and the space is small but clean and bright with tables inside and outside, plus bar seating. I went in knowing they had a vegan grilled cheese sandwich option and was pleasantly surprised to find out they’re using Miyoko’s butter and cheese (though of course I’d prefer The Herbivorous Butcher’s products). The person who took our order made it clear that everything is cooked on the same flat top, and they spray it with oil then scrape it off between orders. This is sufficient by me, but we sat at the bar for a bit and I started to grow anxious. There were a lot of people working in the tiny kitchen and I couldn’t quite figure out who might be preparing our order so it was impossible to tell if they clean off surfaces or whether they use clean utensils for each order. The possibility of cross-contamination seemed incredibly high.

I asked them about it on Facebook, and they said, “Thanks so much for your question. We are working this practice into our training as we speak! Vegan options are so important to us and we are working toward a very streamlined process as it related to execution!” That makes me feel better, and I look forward to going back in a few weeks when they have a little more experience under their belts.

*Update: someone messaged me on Facebook to say they had been in, and All Square was using a separate pan on the flat top as well as a separate cutting board for their vegan grilled cheese. Hurray!

And maybe they’ll figure out a way to make the presentation a little better because this is how the sandwich came out…

Nit picking aside, it was cooked perfectly, the bread was hardy and tasty, and as you can see from the top photo, the cheese was a pile of melty ooey gooey cheesiness. I would eat this sandwich again in a heartbeat and it was $6 which is reasonable considering the quality.

Hopefully they’ll consider adding other options in the future, as some sandwiches include apples, barbecue sauce, and fresh basil that could easily be included in a vegan grilled cheese sandwich. All Square offers a fun concept with an admirable mission, and I look forward to my next visit.

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