When It's 92 In The Shade In Cleveland, Hot Tourists Like To Be Cool At Melt

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 07/08/2010 - 01:49.

When my daughter Grace arrived from Austin Texas for a visit to Cleveland this Summer, her first request was for Hot Sauce Williams BBQ ... her second request was to eat at Melt Bar and Grilled.

Though Grace lives in what many people (including myself) consider the BBQ capital of the world, Grace still considers Hot Sauce Williams the best BBQ on Earth.

And, word on the street in Valley City, where Grace hangs with friends, is that Melt is the best thing in Cleveland since sliced bread...

One thing is for sure - Hot Sauce Williams and Melt are as real NEO as food may be.

Seems the Travel Network's Man vs. Food agrees, as host Adam Richman featured Hot Sauce Williams and Melt on a recent episode filmed in Cleveland.... airing tomorrow, July 9, at 8 PM E/P.

I was more than happy to fulfill my daughter's Cleveland-Girl vs. Food dreams.

Melt Bar and Grilled Cleveland Heights Location - Taylor and Cedar Roads - Man vs. Food

As I'd never been to Melt, I've been anxious to try their food myself... I've heard and seen plenty of buzz all over town about their popular if not cultish anti-establishment - one interesting manifestation... if you have a Melt tattoo you receive a discount on dining there for life... from their website:

How can you enter into a very elite group of slightly warped individuals?  You must use one of our three Melt Bar and Grilled logos and get it tattooed somewhere on your body!  We encourage you to take aspects of one of our logos, customize it and design a tattoo that is personal to you.  Check out our tattoo gallery to see all the great designs so far and get some ideas for your very own Melt tattoo.  Feel free to contact us for suggestions or approvals before getting the tattoo work done (remember, this is permanent!)  We can also suggest great shops in the area to get your custom work done.  After the tattoo is complete, bring yourself and your new tattoo in for a few photos.  We will bestow upon you your official tattoo number and present you with your Melt Tattoo Family card which unlocks the benefits of being a member...25% off any purchase at Melt Bar and Grilled for life!!

Before making that level of commitment, I suggested to my daughter we try the new Melt location that just opened at Cedar and Taylor Roads, in Cleveland Heights... in a classic building that has been many clubs before - I remember great shows there by local legends like Robert Lockwood Jr. and I-Tal - now poised to be a successful restaurant (and this location has been quite successful in the past).

Melt Bar and Grilled Cleveland Heights Location Dining Room

The renovation is excellent - a bright, colorful, lively, nostalgic treatment of an historic space that was stripped of all original character - Melt brings new life in a way that suggests olde-time comfort with fresh, artistic originality. The result is a comfortable, fresh new space for serious family dining and casual bar service that raises the bar for this part of town. The new Melt is perfect for serving-up comfort foods, centered around the simple Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

More accurate, in the cases of most Melt sandwiches, grilled meals on bread...

Like the "sandwich" my daughter ordered - The Godfather (photo at top of posting) - featuring surely a pound of Lasagna grilled into a pillow of cheese and bread (and they say never eat anything larger than your head)... The Godfather - 3 cheese lasagna, fresh fennel-oregano pasta sheets, spicy red sauce, provolone, garlic spiked bread - $11.00.

Being in the mood to kill capitalist pigs these days, I had the Porky Cheese (below) - honey ham, crisp bacon, swiss  - $7.50 (awesome sandwich and great price for two meals worth of food... especially with a 25% tattoo discount?!?!)! To appreciate the size of the portions here, note the cell phone dwarfed by the sandwich in this picture, and know this is one of Melt's lighter offerings...

Melt Porky Cheese Sandwich

Note - in addition to featuring a full bar here (open until 2 AM), the huge beer list has an extensive selection of root beers, including one I love from Louisiana - Abita - which I ordered in support of that Deepwater-devastated land.

If any folks on Earth need more support than Clevelanders these days it is the people of the Gulf South.

Grace and I each ate about a quarter of our sandwiches, perfect hand cut French Fries and outstanding crisp sweet cabbage slaw - the appropriate sides for such creative interpretations of authentic American cuisine... New American dining at its best. We each took the rest of our lunches home for dinner (in very nice biodegradable take-out containers)... seemed most of the other patrons did the same. My leftovers fed my wife and two sons as well.

When Grace and I sampled Melt, it was a sweltering 90+ degrees in the shade, at 3 in the afternoon, and the restaurant had every table full... local folks clearly love this place.

And traveling folks seem to follow Travel Channel recommendations and love this place, as well, as there were clearly a good number of tourists in the house... I wasn't the only photographer recording my visit to share with the world - Grace wasn't the only out-of-towner there seeking the ultimate Cleveland experience.

Melt waitress bringing customer Melt Challenge

And the ultimate Cleveland experience - especially during a July heat wave - is to take The Melt Challenge... which the patron next to our table was at Melt to attempt.

In brief, the Melt Challenge:

Many have taken the challenge but very few have defeated the monster!

Our monster grilled cheese featuring 13 different cheeses, 3 slices of grilled bread and a pile of hand-cut fries & slaw.  Over 5lbs of food!!

Finish it all without any help or trips to the bathroom and you will be awarded a Melt t-shirt or Melt Pint Glass, a $10 gift card and we'll immortalize you in our online Melt Challenge Hall of Fame. Check out the gallery to see who has already defeated this sandwich.

Come meet and possibly defeat the sandwich that lured The Travel Channel's Man v. Food host Adam Richman to Cleveland.

How hungry are you??

Man about to attempt the Melt Challenge - Cleveland Heights Melt Bar and Grilled

Grace and I couldn't stick around to see if this man was able to defeat the Melt Challenge but in the time we ate our 1/4 sandwiches, paid and packed up to go he had made a sizable dent in his platter, and assured the waitress he was just picking up momentum.

While I certainly couldn't take on that challenge - that one meal is 1/30th my body weight - I appreciate the American Spirit who may, and wish him or her well in such enormous pursuits. But don't try this every day.

If you prefer a lighter culinary challenge, Melt offers salads as well.

But raw greens aren't what made Melt world-famous, and I'd hate to imagine the size of a 5-pound salad.

Try the real deal on for size, instead...? If any real NEO members take on the Melt Challenge, report back here on how you do...

The Melt Challenge - Melt Bar and Grilled ultimate 13 cheese grilled sandwich

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Nice Food Shots

Love it--thanks for the visuals!