Miss Sally and I heard testimonials from several people about a new restaurant in Columbus called Melt: Bar andGrilled so we decided to check it out.
We went on Saturday night around 9:00 p.m. and the place was hopping. The hostess said the wait would be about 90 minutes and she had us dig through a pumpkin head for a name tag. I got one that said, “Shut the front door.” We were to stick the nametag in a very visible place as the hostess would be around later to find us when our seat came up. She said that the bar was full service, so that if we could find seats, we could eat there. So we went up to the bar to get beers.
The decor was nice. Fun light fixtures. TVs at the bar. Pop culture icons drawn on the walls. The place was packed, but they seemed to handle the crowds and we got beers quickly. Their beer menu is impressive, though we they did list the Blonde Bombshell Ale as a hefeweizen, so that was an interesting surprise on the first drink. It was good enough that we didn't send it back.
After about 15 minutes, two seats at the bar did open up and we ordered. The menus are stuck to the back of album covers so they are giant squares that don’t live well on a bar, but the folks at the bar are quick to distribute them and as quick to spirit them away. The menu offered some great looking deep fried snacks and the soups looked awesome. We decided to skip the food foreplay and get sandwiches. In the end, I think what the chef that developed menu did was take the menu from another restaurant and then add thick slices of bread and cheese. While there are some classic sandwiches like the Monte Crisco and the Cheeses Steak, I really wonder if there isn’t any meal in the world that you just can’t cram between two slabs of bread with cheese and call it a melt. I’m not complaining. I’m just waiting for the Big Mac Melt which is a Big Mac with Pepper jack between two wedges of sourdough.
In the end, I got bacon egg and cheese, called the Wake & Bacon and Miss Sally got the Purple Parma which is eggplant parmesan between two Stonehenge sized slices of bread.
My sandwich was exactly as expected with plenty of bacon and eggs cooked to order. The cheese seemed a bit processed as it was more sauce that it was gooey cheese, but it was still delicious. If you ever order this sandwich, substitute the “American Cheese” for something else. Miss Sally's sandwich was a tank of eggplant. Two generous slices of deep fried eggplant with parmesan and hint of marinara. It was about 3" tall and impossible to eat as a sandwich. The eggplant was cooked perfectly, which is difficult at times for some restaurants, but two slices was over doing it. Add to that that the bread is 3/4" thick on both ends and she wound up eating it with a fork and knife. She was hoping for a bit more gooey cheese and marinara. In the end, it was a bit dry as the bread and breading absorbed any moisture. Pro-Tip: Ask for extra marinara on the side and eat it open faced.
The fries were tasty and they were the kind that went well with malt vinegar, which they had on the bar. I did get the tail end of a batch of fries so I had a lot of bits and pieces of fried tips in my order. That didn't matter because I only was able to dig into to about half the fires before I tapped out.
There was bread pudding on the menu, but we were overwhelmed with food and unable to order it. Forgive me.
We got to-go boxes and used a fork lift to lower the left overs into the containers. I heated up my sandwich this morning and it still tasted great outside of the American goo on it.
We made it out with three beers and two sandwiches for about $35, which is a great deal.
We were completely bothered by their cutesy name tag business. There was constantly someone walking through the bar yelling out, “I’m looking for Groovy Baby” or “Is there a Green Ranger” or “Where’s Waldo?” Most people were not paying attention and because they weren’t calling out real names, it was a huge disconnect. I’m sure the people that work there absolutely hate this.
Overall, it was a nice experience. The food was decent, the beer list was impressive and the service was snappy, helpful and polite. I highly recommend that you check the place out at least once. I think the menu is just deep enough that you can wade in and find something you’ll like. Just don’t be afraid to custom order or make substitutions.
Melt Bar and Grilled has four locations in the Cleveland area and one in Columbus.