Melt Bar and Grilled, Lakewood, Ohio
When you think of grilled cheese, it’s likely you think of the most basic sandwich that exists, just two slices of bread with some kind of melted cheese. Maybe your version used American, maybe Swiss, maybe cheddar, but while growing up, that was simply what grilled cheese was: a simple and delicious sandwich that could be prepared in a few minutes and was always a favorite in the days of elementary school.
But a grilled cheese has the potential to be so much more, and that’s what Melt Bar and Grilled in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood brings to the table. Here, a grilled cheese is defined as anything between two slices of bread that includes some kind of melted cheese. At the top of that list sits the Melt Challenge, which includes 14 different cheeses on three slices of artisan bread and weighs about four pounds. The cheeses on the sandwich are: herbed cream cheese, sweet cream cheese, smoked gouda, cheddar, cheddar-Jack, goat, blue, feta, Swiss, pepper Jack, provolone, American, Muenster and havarti. In case you haven’t guessed it, that equates to every cheese available on Melt’s menu. I think I once had 11 of them in my refrigerator at once.
For those who aren’t crazy enough or hungry enough to try this challenge, Melt offers a wide range of sandwiches, such as the Parmageddon (pierogies and kraut with cheddar), the Turtle Pizza Roll Melt (pizza rolls with marinara, provolone, cream cheese and basil pesto), the Godfather (lasagna), the North Coast Shores (crab cakes with garlic spinach) and the Porky Cheese (honey ham with bacon and Swiss). Basically, it’s the grilled cheese version of Ike’s Place. You receive your list of sandwich options on the back of what was once an album cover. I’m not sure why Melt chooses to do it that way, but all Melt menus have the album’s front on one side and the menu on the other, with a slot for inserting the record, if anyone ever had one lying around.
From the abundance of options available to me on a visit with my friend Stephanie, I decided to go with the Summer Chicken, a grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, roasted garlic herb dressing and, in honor of my lady Amy, havarti. Amy loves the creamy taste of havarti, and although I probably would have ordered that sandwich anyway, I liked the idea of having a small reminder of her while she was in Florida.
The sandwich is fantastic. Chicken works well with a lot of things, and a garlic dressing is certainly one of them. The chicken is grilled to perfection, and the havarti provides a perfect complement to it with a taste that isn’t too light and doesn’t overwhelm the chicken either. With garlic added on, the combination is perfect.
Every sandwich at Melt also comes with a heaping portion of hand-cut fries and a smaller portion of cole slaw. The slaw was good for slaw, which I admittedly tend to not eat unless I’m having it on a sandwich. The fries were also fantastic, similar to the style one finds at Five Guys, which will never be reviewed here but I would love to have in Iowa. They go great with vinegar. The one issue is that they give you a ton of these fries, and finishing is very unlikely.
Finishing goes from unlikely to impossible if you order one of Melt’s starters, such as their tomato soup. I figured it was worth a try, but it wasn’t really a soup. It wasn’t bad, but probably the best way to describe it is that it’s like eating marinara sauce. If that’s your thing, go for it, but if not, it’s not a necessity.
But the grilled cheeses are excellent. It’s the adult version of everyone’s childhood sandwich, and boy, does it work great. Whichever way your tastes take you, there’s really no wrong choice.
Time to go: Lunch/dinner. Melt can get very busy, as it has become very popular in a brief amount of time.
Wait during my visit: Minimal, but I was also working with a storm in my favor. I’d assume that it’s not always a short wait.
Location: Melt operates at 14718 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood, Ohio. The suburbs of Cleveland Heights and Independence also have a Melt location.
Cost: A little on the high side, but you do get a lot of food. Most sandwiches are near $10. If you want to save money, you can get 25% off for life at Melt by getting a sandwich tattoo. No, I’m not kidding.
Parking: There is a lot behind the restaurant.
Specialty items: Grilled cheese