Writing and Eating in: Cleveland, OH
Melt is America on a plate: big, greasy, cheesy, melting pot of delicious.
Melt is actually a grilled cheese joint in Cleveland.
But it’s not just any grilled cheese joint. It’s a small chain of GCJ’s (grilled cheese joints, duh) that serve giant grilled cheese sandwiches with everything on them. And I mean everything.
This was our second and most artery-blocking stop on a recent impromptu culinary tour of Cleveland. My friend Beth lives in the trendy Coventry neighborhood of Cleveland Heights and invited us out for a relaxing weekend. Since it was January, we all admitted that there was little we wanted to do other than eat, watch Big Bang Theory, and hangout with animals (her cats, our dog, and the long-dead whales and dinosaurs at the Cleveland Natural History Museum) and paraded ourselves around the best of Cleveland’s culinary scene.
So at lunch time on Saturday, after dyeing my hair a violent shade of red which has toned down to a beautiful red-brown now – thank you universe, Beth loaded us in the car to check out Melt. On our prior trips, everyone had feared the stomachache while I’d secretly put the semi-famous sandwiches on my bucket list.
We arrived around 2 in the afternoon on a Saturday and there was still a 20-minute wait. For us, this is usually a HUGE turn-off, but they could seat us at the bar right away and there were plenty of seats at the bar so we took them.
The menus arrived – small, dense type describing a long list of sandwiches on the back side of a record. Kevin had Zorba the Greek. Beth and mine were less memorable. Plus, I was just ready to eat! Mid-afternoon and all I’ve had is coffee and biscotti? Erin be hungry.
And it was the ideal place to show up hungry. You cannot, I repeat, cannot go to Melt if you are anything less than deep-belly-growl hungry. The kind that gnaws at you and you think you’re “starving” but then you realize you live in a country with places like Melt and have decent job so you’re not starving, but merely hungry enough for a big meal.
So, the food – what about it then?
I had a sandwich with a slab of lasagna in the middle.
Yes – you read that correctly – lasagna.
Named “The Godfather” my sandwich consisted of marinara sauce, herbed lasagna noodles, and provolone cheese layered like lasagna and slapped between two slices of thick white bread topped with a garlic-parmesan mixture. On the side? Tons of fries and coleslaw.
The best part was that the lasagna was really, really good. I have to find out if the lasagna noodles are homemade they were so tasty and perfectly cooked to al dente. The marinara was a little spicy with red pepper flakes and there was just the right amount of cheese. I had a hard time wrapping my mouth around this guy, but it was well worth the effort.
Beth had the sandwich I almost ordered: The Dude Abides – complete with a meatball and mozzarella sticks.
Kevin went for the January special: The Hungry Hungarian, which had pulled chicken, dumplings, paprikash sauce, and provolone cheese.
The fries were tasty and a nice thing to munch on while talking – something you won’t be doing while you’re eating the sandwich. Nobody tried the coleslaw that I know of - sorry folks, I can’t eat raw food! But one of the bartenders said he loves their coleslaw and he never liked it before he worked there so, it’s probably decent.
Would I eat there again?
Yeah – but only for a special occasion. It was DELICIOUS but like Primanti Brothers is for me and Kevin, Melt is a place Beth only goes when she’s got people who have never been before to show around. You should ABSOLUTELY GO!!! But maybe not every day. We happily took home boxes and the leftovers were a wonderful weeknight treat in the ‘burgh.