This place has one purpose in life, cheese. Piled high, over fries, over soup, and well… grilled cheese the size of your head. What is a vegan doing in such a place you may ask, well folks, this place is VERY vegan friendly. Monthly vegan specials, and anything without meat on it can be made vegan (yowza!). It also touts amazing beer selection of 20 drafts, and over 150 domestic, imported and micro brew bottles to choose from. Everything from a porter, to a lambic, and a “What the F%A#?!”. Owner Matt Fish (above) has an extensive fan base, so many in fact Melt offers a discount for people who get a grilled cheese tattoo.
Hey, I guess it’s the only tatt that pays for itself.
I decided to join my friend for a bike ride through Cleveland’s brisk March air to Cleveland’s west side. I think a 10 mile ride is exactly what’s needed to work up a cheese smashing appetite, not to mention a ride back to aid digestion.
This place now offers both an east side and a west side location to help keep up with popular demand. As soon as I entered the west side location I was greeted by a gorgeous mural by Jake Kelly wrapping the walls of the corridor. Since this place does not take reservations, there is a very large waiting room which I think adds to the ambiance, and helps make it a social event. The people are what truly enhance the cheese, or tofutti for that matter.
The menus are all on old vinyls and the coffee mugs are all mismatched pieces from the thrift store, making feel like home, or at least like one of your crazy friends decided to open a restaurant dedicated to fermented rape juice (but made vegan options, because he knows you call it fermented rape juice). My waitress was adorable, and very knowledgeable about the veg friendly options, even down to what brand of soy cheese (toffutti). In honor of the upcoming holiday (I am 10% Irish after all) I decided to celebrate with the monthly special: The Reuban Melt, vegan style. Piled high with thinly sliced seitan, toffuti swiss cheese, french dressing, and kraut served between two slices of buttery texas toast, all served with a pile of fries and slaw ($11.00). I would have sworn it was the real deal, so much that I even had to pick it apart to make sure. Big globs of cheese, crispy texas toast and drippy slaw hanging from the side of my sammich, I almost needed a fry break just to cleanse my palate, but that’s what all the wonderful beer is for.
However, I must admit the dressing lacked in flavor. I detected a whipped tofu base, which means they were halfway there (not like the standard veganaise base, it’s just not creamy enough). It could have benefit from the tang of apple cider vinegar and the zip of some spice and more sweet tomato flavor. I would also like them to try using Daiya cheese, it melts like a dream.
Across the table, my lacto-ovo friend decided to opt for his second eating challenge in 2 days. Gluttony at it’s finest, folks. The melt challenge consists of 3 slices of over sized texas toast, every type of cheese on the menu (that’s 3 1/2 pounds folks) paired with a plate of fries and slaw($22.00). No help from your friends, and no trips to the bathroom, sorry you’ll just have to wait till after to purge your meal, fattie. This is the same challenge brought to plate for the travel channel’s Man Vs. Food.
Any plate next to his looked puny, but he was up for the challenge. I didn’t know whether I should have been supportive, or concerned… But seeing as how the guy has a six pack, I could only cheer him on for his last few bites. Against popular belief, and with some coaching, he finished the gooey monstrosity. The manager quickly awarded him a T shirt and a $10 gift card, along with taking pictures of his empty plate and bloated six pack. By the way, that’s only half of the sammich in the picture.
Needless to say, I rode home solo that night. As much as I wanted to see him puke off the side of his fixie, it was probably best he got a ride home. His final words were “that was way worse than the pirogi eating challenge…. yesterday…burrrrrrppp… You on for vegan night at Now That’s Class tomorrow?”
Does that make me an enabler?
Melt is truly vegan junk food heaven, perhaps that’s why the logo’s has angel wings 😉
With tons of quirky culture, great staff, an extensive vegan menu and even more great beer, this place gets a 9 out of 10***. A great place to go with your omni friends, without feeling left out.
*** Update: Melt composts all of their post consumer waste and cardboard, along with donating all of their fryer grease to City Fresh (a local crop share program) for their biodesiel. They are looking into avenues for recycling glass and updating those old fashioned styrofoam containers. Their final point may be earned once they make the final green modifacations of biodegradable containers and glass recycling.
Feel free to visit their website at MeltBarandGrilled.com