Melt Bar & Grilled (Second Visit)
Cleveland, Ohio         Date of Visit:  05/12/16
 Click Here for Original Visit

We stopped into the Independence location for our second serving of Melt Bar & Grilled. I don’t know if it was what we ordered, the sandwiches have gotten a better balance over the years or it was just a better day in general…but I found myself less disappointed than our original visit back when they were getting a lot of press.



The service was quick and efficient and if the size of the place is any indication of how well they are doing with the locals, they are making a lot of people less hungry and happy. Beneath all of the Cleveland nostaligia and peculiar light-up-lawn-ornament collection, we tried the pierogi again; I think they probably come from the well-know local producer. They are good, tatery, buttery, rich. There is so much less kraut it looks a little chintzier on the plate but makes much more sense on the palate. Even better are the crispy and tart Attack of the Green Tomato: crispy, sweet/sour fried maters , roasted corn salsa and a mildly spicy remoulade. A nice combo.


Plenty Of Nods To Cleveland

Plus A Fair Bit Of Kitsch


The Pierogies Look Like Pierogis Now

Fried Green 'Maters Are An Excellent Combo


Four sammitches, three with hot crispy and well-seasoned fries. This time the fillings didn’t get buried in the grilled bookends, we clearly went with more substantial flavor bases (except for one of us…I won’t say who) but they worked much better for me. The one oddball was the Kindergarten, grilled cheese & tomato soup. I didn’t try the sandwich but the soup is much more grown up with garlic and roasted veggie notes.

My Cleveland cheese steak with pulled brisket, provy, shrooms/peppers/onions, and aioli was my least fav but more due to tastiness of the other two. The Hot Italian with traditional deli meats and cheeses with a little marinara and banana peppers was just what I would want in an Italian sandwich. The Parma, Italy was actually stupid nice with crispy fried chicken, more of the marinara, some garlic and a couple of cheeses. Crispy, juicy, stringy cheesey, saucy tasty.


The Kindergarten For The Wee Ones

The Philly Was Fine But Beat Out By Next Two

Exactly Italian

And Scrumptious Chicken Parm

I doubt it will take so many years before we consider another trip…there were a couple other options that sounded pretty interesting…Wild Tofu Wings appetizers???, chorizo & potato, mom’s meatloaf dinner, Bushwood club and the Dude Abides sandwiches??? Let's go.

  Change in Ranking        
  Original Score Which Way? New Score Why For?  
  C- B Much Improvement in The Sandwich Front
Now Seems More Focused On Flavor Than Shtick
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Melt Bar and Grilled   
Cleveland, OH           Date of Visit: 08/06/10

We stopped at another Cleveland landmark, this one much more recent on the restaurant scene. Thinking we could sneak in at a slow time we tried early lunch on a weekday. No such luck, the place is by reputation always packed and our experience was no different. A wonderful mélange of people were standing in the crowded waiting room. From barely able to stand grandmothers to heavily tatted dudes just waking, everyone was looking for a wild variety of menu items, all of which are sandwiched inside of a grilled cheese. This is Melt's unique schtick.




Abita Rootbeer & Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

The space is small but other worldly in a dark and awesome way, with a heavy Cleveland vibe and incredibly random stuff scattered on the walls and shelves. The menus are affixed to old vinyl album covers (ours were Neil Diamond and Rod Stewart) and each contains salads, soups, apps, 8 burgers, and 25 madcap grilled cheese combinations. A second menu holds a maniacal beer, wine, and booze list, particularly the breadth of the beer options. The Guinness tap was not cooperating and the server steered me towards the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA which has a sweeter start but a more familiar bitter finish. They also serve a wider than expected range of Root Beers, a highlight of which was the root beer from Abita, the New Orleans brewery. About our server, all of the staff appears to have found a workable mix between nonstop wall-to-wall work like trying to carry plates through the constantly crammed space and a relaxed professionalism. Our server had a colorful sleeve down one arm and a dew rag tied biker style. He was knowledgeable, friendly and apparently unaffected by anything. The entire staff seems to have balanced being unapologetic (what we do is what we do, where we do it) with strong service (I will do everything I can to help you enjoy what we do).



Now down to business, the food. In a word I would say sadly disappointing. Yes, I know that’s two but sadness is an imperative part of the disappointment. The place and people are vibrant and buzzing, the menu is unique and promising, I had such high hopes. The stuffing in the sandwiches are really good. We tried the Lake Erie Monster (beer-battered Walleye), the Tokyo Tuna Melt (Yellowfin with ginger wasabi mayo {rare}), and the clever nod to Spinal Tap and video games the Guitar Gyro (Beef and Lamb, Tzatiki sauce, and feta). The Walleye was flaky and hot although the batter could have used some seasoning. The rare tuna was delicious and balanced well with the mayo. The Gyro was not as inspired as its name with stereotypical slabs of “gyro meat” and a featureless sauce. For a cheese-centric place the feta was also sadly passé.

But you might say…you said the ingredients were for the most part really good. They are. For me the problem is not the ingredients, not the preparation, but the concept.

Where's the Pierogi?


The Clever Miss, Guitar Gyro

The Rare Tuna Under Oppressive Weight
both Physically and Flavorfully

Local Walleye, Oh and more Grilled Cheese


All of the goodies were sandwiched in a flavor deadening blanket which is central focus of the whole joint, the grilled cheese. Pulling the items out of the sandwich proved their worth. The grilled cheese alone is fine, nice bread and who doesn’t like gooey cheese? Slap them together and all of those ingredients seem to degrade into an unexciting mishmash of flavorlessness, of black hole magnitude. The pierogi app was doughy and also lost in a mound of slaw and sour cream. The fries are fine but the slaw shows more imagination on the menu than it does on the palate. It was a fun experience, the place is definitely worth seeing. I don’t imagine I would again wait about an hour for the sandwiches even though we talked for the whole hour wait about what we would get on our next trip. Instead our next trip will be in search of something that pays off on the plate.




What's Best

What's Worst

  D B+ B B D C-  
      Awesome but Tiny Beverages are Unique
and Varied
Anything that comes on
Grilled Cheese...oh wait.
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