My husband and I had to head up to Cleveland a few weeks ago for a concert, and after to our requisite stops at the West Side Market for some pierogies, and Gaelic Imports for Bridies, Cornish Pasties, and other Anglo goodies, we still had enough time to take in a meal before we needed to be at the venue. There are tons of places in the Cleveland metro area that we still want to try, most notably Sokolowski’s University Inn (I’m a sucker for Polish food), Momocho (anyone who puts goat cheese in guacamole has piqued my interest), and Lola (I’ve heard a lot of things about Michael Symon, and I need to find out if his food lives up to the hype). Another restaurant that has been on our “to try” list for quite a while is Melt Bar and Grilled over in Lakewood.
Melt opened up about a year ago at the corner of Detroit Avenue and Warren Road. We found some convenient parking in a metro lot behind the restaurant, and luckily they have a back entrance so we didn’t need to hike around the block in the steady rain we were having that day. We got there a little bit after 5pm, so it was fairly empty when we arrived, although it filled up rather quickly by the time we were done eating an hour later.
They specialize in grilled cheese sandwiches, and I have to admit that was what immediately caught my attention, as any combination of bread, cheese, and heat is a winner in my book. Their menu offers several different combinations of grilled cheese, along with the ability to create your own (by picking what bread, cheese, and extras you want), or modifying existing ones. This can both work for you or against you, which I’ll explain a bit later. You’ll have to excuse the pictures – even though we sat by a window, it wasn’t sunny out and by the nature of being a pub, it was pretty dark in there, which necessitated the use of a flash. I can assure you that the food didn’t look this scary in person.
We started with an appetizer order of pierogies ($5.50), which consisted of two locally produced potato and cheese pierogies, which are served on a bed of fried onions, peppers, and kraut and topped with sour cream and cheese. While the pierogies were great, there was way too much going on with the competing toppings – this would have been far superior had it been just pan fried with the onions as the menu advertised.
I went with the Wake and Bacon sandwich ($6), which normally comes with fried egg, crisp bacon, and American cheese. I opted to add havarti cheese to the mix as well, along with caramel port onions. While the havarti was a successful addition, the onions were a bit overpowering to the delicate balance of the other ingredients. That’s one of the dangers of letting your patrons customize their dishes. They can come up with some pretty hideous combinations. After scraping off the onions, the sandwich was quite good. Huge, but good. I would have preferred that the bread have been grilled a bit more to brown it, but I can understand the difficulty of that happening with a sandwich as unwieldy as this one. It was served with a handful of crisp fries that paired perfectly, along with some uninspiring slaw that I didn’t care for.
My husband opted for the better of the two sandwiches, the Municipal Stadium Magic ($9), which has locally produced bratwurst, fresh napa vodka kraut, and smoked gouda. He opted to substitute havarti for the gouda, and added caramel port onions as well. These changes definitely were just what the doctor ordered for this sandwich. I stole as many bites of his as he would allow.
Along with his sandwich, he ordered a bowl of their Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup ($3.25) which was more like marinara sauce than soup. I guess we were expecting a more smooth bisque type soup instead of the chunky thick very garlicky sauce we got.
My husband couldn’t resist the call of one of their dessert items, Fried Twinkies ($4.50), served with mixed berry preserves. I detest the sickly sweetness of twinkies when they’re cold, and hated them even more when they were dipped in batter and deep fried. He agreed that they were cloyingly sweet and considered it a failed experiment. He had to try it once for curiosity’s sake, and I’m sure there’s a crowd out there that it would appeal to.
So the final verdict? Good, as long as you stick to their sandwich choices or make safe additions that you know will pair well. The other items on the menu that we tried fell a bit short. I think beer would improve the taste of any of the offerings here. Great concept, but they just need to work out a few of the kinks.
If you’d like to go: Melt Bar and Grilled, 14718 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH, 216.226.3699.