12.16.2012

Food Review: Melt Bar and Grilled (Mentor, OH)

On a random Tuesday a few weeks ago I had the chance to visit a newly-opened Melt Bar and Grill restaurant in Mentor at the corner of OH-306 and US-20 (Mentor Ave.). It is a place that specializes in, like its name suggests, gourmet melted grilled cheese sandwiches. There are several of these in the Cleveland area and this one was their newest, most eastern location.

When I first entered the restaurant, I was immediately bombarded with a visual explosion of wall artwork and random decor of throwback Cleveland/Ohio-related photos, license plates, and the remnants of other restaurants its high walls. I spent quite a bit of time admiring the artwork, since the wait was quite long for a table for two (I was meeting up with a co-worker), about 30-35 minutes to be exact. So I used the time to peruse the menu, that was creatively pasted on the back of old LP record jackets, and check out the eccentric decor.

The ceiling was chock full of cultural references.
Tony Bennett on one side, a grilled cheese selection on the other.
At least I know where all the lighted, plastic-molded lawn decorations go to retire.
Once we were seated in very close quarters in a half-booth with other guests flanking us on both sides, we waited another five minutes for our server to arrive. I would've figured that most customers were ready to order by then with all the downtime, and I also wondered if they were understaffed for the evening.

So I killed time by staring at the menu again. Their drink selection did surprise me. Aside from the standard Coke products that one would see at a restaurant they also had a very extensive choice of root beers and ginger ale. For that evening I went with a bottle of Boylan's ginger ale, a bit stronger than the standard Segram's or Canada Dry variety.


For an appetizer, I requested a small cup of the Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup. Their version of this very common accessory to grilled cheese sandwiches was a bit unusual in both taste and texture. It had a very chunky consistency that made the mixture not very soupy, and I found a little bit too salty for my liking - this definitely needed to be taste tested before it made its way out to the customers. For a moment I thought I was eating hot, chunky salsa and I don't mean the spicy kind.

I did find the serving plates and bowls to be quite amusing. My soup was served in a throwback mug that one would find at a yard sale. Like the old LP covers that held the menus, it gave the place a much more homely, casual feel. The Goldfish crackers were a surprise, too.


For my main course selection I went with the gyro melt sandwich which was gyro meat, onions, and cheese melted in between two pieces of giant sourdough Texas toast sliced bread. The sandwich came with a side of freshly fried french fries. The sandwiches were so stuffed that it was a struggle to get through an entire half potion. The other half became the next day's work lunch.

Top: Mushroom Melt ($9), Bottom: Gyro Melt ($11). Both include a generous helping of fresh cut french fries, a scoop of homemade coleslaw, and a pickle.
Although the restaurant's concept and menu selection was very interesting and unique, it did have a few flaws first off the top. The French fries were a little burnt and reduced to inedible chips when I reached the bottom. Additionally, I found the gyro meat in the Gyro Melt to lack a bit of flavor and it seemed to overpower the entire sandwich. On the other hand, the Mushroom Melt was very flavorful and you could taste the carmelized onions and provolone cheese. In summary, it was a lot of food to behold but I felt the flair and flavor to be lacking, and there were moments in between bites when I wondered why people would wait close to an hour for a seat here.

My verdict? It's a chill place to visit, if you're patient and have a huge appetite. Usually those two traits don't go together, and I'd have to try a few more of the entrees to really judge if it's worth the wait. Personally, I wouldn't sit around for more than 15 minutes for a table to eat here, but I guess it has enough a charm that people are willing to do that.

Melt Bar and Grilled is located at 7289 Mentor Ave. in Mentor inside of the Points East Shopping Center. You can see their selections on their website at http://meltbarandgrilled.com/.

Melt Bar and Grilled  on Urbanspoon

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