My policy generally is to avoid new bars and restaurants for a few weeks to let the buzz die down. But as a lover of Cleveland and beer and occasionally eating cheese by the block, I wanted to brave the Melt crowd on Day 1. Spoiler Alert: Totally worth it.
All senses are assaulted in the best way possible when you enter the new Melt in the Short North. Bright colors and neon signs mixed with a loud buzz caused by cheese-related bliss and the smell of lovingly fried everything hugged me upon arrival. Welcome to my new home.
Adult Chuck E. Cheese features bright blue stamped tin ceilings, a gorgeous neon Welcome to Columbus sign, and a very cool mural of Ohio historical figures to keep you occupied while you wait. We were greeted in the aptly large host area by friendly Melt personnel. Only a 45-minute wait on Day 1 seemed reasonable to me, and I pulled my new moniker “One Hit Wonder” out of the pumpkin – a much more interesting system than simply adding your name to a waiting list. We sat on one of the church pew benches to wait, admising the exposed brick and beautiful hardwood floors as a nice juxtaposition with the rest of Melt’s madness.
In reality our wait ended up being only 20 minutes, which gave me ample time to admire the collection of plastic Santas, Easter bunnies, pumpkins and ghosts. Amid the kitsch they’ve arranged dozens of very cool historical photographs of Columbus. As we waited several hosts and servers apologized to let us know that we were up very soon. The entire staff seemed confident and prepared for the pressure of a very swamped first day in Columbus and needlessly apologetic.
The bar is impressively long, the ceilings are high, and the entire front facade faces onto High Street for some great people watching. The beer coolers feature classic arcade game signs and the four televisions were showing an eclectic mix seemingly created just for me: Cooking Channel, SyFy, Cartoon Network and Comedy Central.
The “Most Dangerous Beer List” seemed pretty tame to our trio, but I’d assume we’ve been more adventurous with beer selections than most. I’d say “Comprehensive” is more fitting than “Dangerous.” The drinks menu featured a Snow Cap Martini special along with Ommegang Abbey Ale. The beer offerings feature a nice mix of Columbus beers, as well as great craft beers from around the world, and our table had a Seventh Son Experimentale, CBC Fresh Hop and a Duchesse de Bourgogne.
The menu features a starters, soups and salads for the healthier of the crowd as well as a few dozen grilled cheese sandwiches. You can build your own burger (including a veggie burger) as well. For $30 you can take on the Melt Challenge, which was only halfway a joke at our table.
We started with the animal style fries because I was in an if-my-jeans-aren’t-going-to-fit-why-even-try mood. Fresh hand-cut fries with pork belly, mozzarella cheese curds, gravy and a sunnyside up egg made for an entirely unnecessary but incredibly delicious appetizer.
The three of us ordered the War Pig (espresso and ancho rubbed pork, seared pork belly, honey ham, tamale cake, mole sauce, chicharrones and melty pepperjack), the Chorizo and Potato (fresh ground spicy sausage and potato hash, and sharp cheddar) and The Dude Abides (homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella wedges, rich marinara, provolone and romano). My husband shamefully admitted that the War Pig had slightly too much meat for him, but the other two sandwiches were huge hits at the table. One of us (a certain editor of a certain Columbus booze blog) was able to take half a sandwich home, but Doug and I finished our huge grilled cheeses because we don’t see calories or unclogged arteries as a necessary hurdle to happiness.
As I sit here typing still filled with melty cheese and delicious beer like Wisconsin Carrie Bradshaw, I can’t help but wonder if I should have gone with the Parmageddon (potato & onion pierogi, fresh napa vodka kraut, sautéed onions and sharp cheddar). But I digress into a melty cheese madness.
I love Melt. I love that every inch offers a piece of entertainment to laugh at, wonder about or admire. I love the dedication to puns throughout the menu. I love the simple marriage of great beer and melted cheese.
Day 1 of Melt was busy, and I can only imagine that it’ll continue to be packed. It’s not just decent beers and good food; it’s a great overall experience. See you again soon. Maybe tomorrow for the Parmageddon.