Melt Bar and Grilled has become a kind of Cleveland landmark – in the eight years since they opened the doors of their first location (which is now five, by the way), Melt has developed what can only be called a cult following, and the restaurant has been recognized locally and featured on several national TV shows. And after eating at their flagship several years ago, we made a dinner trip earlier this summer to their Mentor location.
The atmosphere is about what you’d expect from a place that specializes in beer and grilled cheese. It’s very casual with a continuous buzz of conversation, good music, and whatever game’s on at the moment. Good place to take noisy kids (and what other kind is there?), since they just add to the general din.
The menu, obviously, is centered around a multitude of different ways to assemble a grilled cheese sandwich. Though calling it a sandwich might be generous – it’s really a full meal crammed between a couple thick slices of bread. Try the Parmageddon, complete with pierogi, onions, and kraut. Or how about the GYRO meatloaf, which features lamb and beef, pickled cucumber and onion salad, and a yogurt sauce (in addition to the cheese). If you can think of it, it’s probably on a sandwich. Oh, and it all comes with hand-cut fries.
Just in case you come to a grilled cheese restaurant for something other than grilled cheese (?!?), there are menu options to accommodate. And in spite of all that meaty and cheesy goodness, there are actually a number of vegetarian and/or vegan options (in fact, a large portion of the regular menu can be made in a vegan version).
On this outing, S had a chicken, tomato, and basil grilled cheese, and I had one topped with meatloaf, bacon and crispy onions. Quite different from each other, but alike in the fact that both were a delightful experience. While a look at the menu can lead one to assume that the creator is a bit crazy, there’s really nothing crazy about it. Each one is built to perfection, and all the ingredients meld together seamlessly, helped along, of course, by a lot of melted cheese and griddle-toasted bread.
S had a great point – the thing that might be most impressive is that, in order to build these creations, they have to make a whole lot of different food, and make it all well. It’s easy enough to slap a piece of cheese on some bread, but to slap on that same piece of cheese, and then top it with house-made meatballs, or pulled BBQ pork, or lasagna, and have it all come out tasting fabulous… that takes some talent.
The verdict: Melt earns 5 1/2 stars out of seven. Good, heavy food (don’t go expecting to leave hungry), good service (all the servers we encountered were pleasant and helpful), and good prices (just about everything is $12 and under).