My travels to Cleveland, Ohio bring me to Melt Bar and Grilled, a well-known gourmet grilled cheese restaurant. Open since 2006, owner and chef Matt Fish aims to bring “comfort food dressed up” to his customers – much like Grilled Cheese and Co. aims to do in Baltimore.
What’s better, one of my favorite foodies Adam Richman visited the restaurant on his show, “Man Versus Food.” He took on (and emerged victorious) the Melt Challenge – a massive grilled cheese featuring 13 different cheeses, three slices of bread, french fries and slaw. That’s over five pounds of food. Doesn’t sound that difficult.
Like Grilled Cheese and Co., Melt offers a menu of gourmet grilled cheeses, such as the Summer Chicken, featuring grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, Havarti cheese and roasted garlic herb dressing and the Lake Erie Monster, with fresh Walleye, American cheese and jalapeno tartar sauce. I kept things simple by ordering the Porky Cheese, featuring honey ham, bacon and Swiss cheese.
Immediately, I noticed that Melt’s sandwiches are not just about the cheese – they emphasize the flavors of the other ingredients as well. The bread on my sandwich was crusty and quite thick, and combined with a large stack of bacon and sliced ham, this was an enormous portion. Even so, the salty, savory flavors of the sandwich coerced me to finish nearly all of it. The peppery fries on the side were a perfect complement. Very tasty.
I get the impression that Grilled Cheese and Co. sticks to a more traditional method than Melt does. For example, in addition to grilled cheeses, Melt also offers an extensive beer and wine menu. There is even a full service bar inside the restaurant. I think this is great – what could be better than grilled cheese and beer? While both restaurants are different, both stick to a similar concept – putting a gourmet twist on a classic American sandwich.