Peanut butter and jelly. Pickles and relish. Ketchup and cottage cheese (seriously; it's good!). There's no comfort food like the stuff that comes in pairs, one item at once declaring itself and complementing the other. In the end, bologna is Mutt to mayo's Jeff. Pat Benatar as vanilla ice cream? How about Neil Geraldo as the chocolate syrup? And if Kurt Cobain is a banana, Courtney Love's the split.
But don't you dare make light of the lifelong granddaddy of 'em all—the grilled-cheese sammie and pickle spear, especially if it's from Hamilton's Tavern. The South Park venue, which has been licensed to sell food, beer and wine since before the Pilgrims rocked Plymouth, changed ownership in 2006—but the neighborhood tav feel is alive and well, as illustrated by the staff that's forgotten more about beer, bar food and good vibes than you'll ever want to know. The place is exceptionally friendly, with the camaraderie level rising in exact proportion to the swell of the crowd (I measured it through sophisticated scientific means). And the grilled-cheese masterpiece, the California ($4.95), will flood your head with memories of the way Mom used to make 'em (after all, everybody's did). If the cheese at Hamilton's is a dog, the bread and other fixin's are her diamond-studded leash, used only on the specialest of occasions.
Hamilton's, which touts Howlin' Wolf on its awesome jukebox, is at 1521 30th St. and is open Mondays through Fridays from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. (please do call 619-238-5460 or visit www.hamiltonstavern.com). There's a California grilled cheese with your name on it inside—and speaking of pairings, we sincerely trust that that name matches your real one.