Restaurant Review: Melt Bar and Grilled
If you like people — REALLY like lots and lots of people, and you like hanging out for a couple of hours when you visit a restaurant, then the Short North’s new Melt Bar and Grilled is the place to be.
Oh my, there are lots of people at Melt. They’re waiting for seating, they’re waiting for food; hipsters, families, uptown types, all excited and insanely patient to get some eat on at a fabulous import from up north.
You know the rules, the bigger the crowd, the bigger the wait. A manageable 30ish minute seating wait might require an additional 45 minute wait (or more) in the dining room for food. Columbus residents seem to like these experiences (witness: Cabela’s grand opening). None of the guests in the waiting and dining rooms have seemed terribly irked; waiting is a rite of passage to the Magical Land of Melty. Or something like that.
The décor is cute, and appreciating the design requires zero waiting. There’s a big mural that starts in the entryway where people stand in line to get on the wait list for seating. The mural is filled with cartoon images of famous Ohio natives. Hangriness (the angry that comes from prolonged state of hunger) thwarted any personal appreciation of the mural’s cuteness: only the illustrations of a Devo member and an Ohioan with octopus-hair remain in the memory.
There’s actually lots of cuteness all over the place at Melt. Guests are assigned names in the waiting room such as “Needs to try harder” or “Terminator”. Again, the ability to appreciate snarky cuteness is inversely proportional to the level of desperation to do anything besides wait.
The food at Melt is super large. It’s got to be the largeness and the fried-ness of its wares that lures Columbus inside. It’s like eating at the fair, only bigger, and more sedentary.
Diners can start modestly enough with something called the Kindergarten ($6.50). It’s a basic grilled cheese. The bread is good. It’s thick cut and is porous like French bread, but it’s also dense like Wonderbread. It’s weirdly heavy and grilled in some sort of butter-like substance.
It’s probably not the standard grilled cheese that has all the masses of guests waiting patiently. It’s probably something more like Dad’s Meatloaf Dinner ($13). Dad’s Meatloaf Dinner is a sandwich that works well as fork food. There’s a slice of meatloaf in there, along with a giant breaded potato fritter, bacon, fancy ketchup, muenster and a bunch of tomato and lettuce. It’s a lot of stuff.
Something called a Big Popper ($10.50) was ordered in a miscommunication (an attempt at getting a Hot Buffalo Chicken). When hunger strikes, and it’s been a good long wait, there is no complaining or questioning, there is just eating. The Big Popper was really weird –like eating a mound of batter fried bread with a little cheese spread and a few pepper slices… and some jelly, for good measure.
Batter fried bread. Just like the fair, right?
There are salads too. The Roasted Brussels & Bacon ($10.50) has really good brussels sprouts all over it. They were in a mix with baby kale and frisee, cubes of pork belly, cranberries and lots of walnuts.
All in all, the future for Melt looks bright, blindingly so. And people who don’t like to wait can find another joint to spend money. Melt Bar and Grilled will be far too busy to miss ’em.
More information can be found online at www.meltbarandgrilled.com.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com.