It will Melt your heart
I wish I could say that grilled cheese was comfort food for me when I was a kid, but I can't. When I was a kid, I was unbelievably allergic to certain types of cheese that went into the typical grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese. Things were not pretty when I ate cheese, every major organ that could have a reaction to the cheese reacted to the cheese. I would swell up so much that even my eyelids would swell shut and I couldn't see for days. Breathing is a necessity of life, and that was hard too. Oh, the full body discomfort, pain, itching after a bite of grilled cheese was absolutely not worth it. The thing about cheese that was actually the worst part was scaring the crap out of my mom when she saw how I reacted to grilled cheese. By the time I went to college, I could eat small amounts of real cheeses (not that fake stuff in USA grocery stores). When I got to college, I thought it was time for me to try eating grilled cheese and mac and cheese just because the other univ. food was so horrible, low grade, ill prepared food, that I would risk all the childhood full body reaction for some food that wasn't terrible. To my luck, I have nearly outgrown the allergies to nearly all cheeses, and all I get is some slight puffiness and congestion, but that is it, and I can definitely live with that. Given a choice now, I would opt for a hot grilled cheese sandwich over any coldcut sandwich any day!
I still don't eat grilled cheese often, it usually is made once per year in my house, because I did not grow up with this traditional kid's food, and I don't normally think of it. I love grilled cheese, and I wish I could think of it more! It has texture, it has buttery goodness, it has oozy cheesy tanginess, and cutting it into 2 triangles gives the dish a nice visual shape. I can see why adults call this comfort food from childhood, and think of it fondly. It is warm and inviting, and seems to bring a smile to all who eats grilled cheese.
If I can get a good grilled cheese, I am going for it! I was so lucky to stumble upon Melt, the Grilled Cheese bar and grill in Cleveland. It is up on Detroit Ave in the town of Lakewood, a few blocks away from Lake Erie, on the north side of Cleveland. This little place has maybe a dozen+ tables, an extensive beer menu, extensive rootbeer menu, and an extensive grilled cheese menu. I can just imagine people of my generation being fed grilled cheese and root beer as weekend lunch. I was imagining how it must have been for the traditional American family that made grilled cheese at home when I sat down at Melt. The grilled cheese combos are make your own, or order one of the many combos. There are chicken, ham, veggie burger, and other proteins to add into the grilled cheese. The cheeses include cheddar, American, provolone, swiss, vegan and more. I opted for the Wake and Bac which is 2 fried eggs, 3 pieces of hickory smoked bacon, cheese of my choice, all grilled in big slices of hand cut sour dough bread. The sandwich came with a big pile of fries and some fresh slaw. I got a sarsaparilla made with real cane sugar (none of this HFCS) to wash it all down. All this was about $10 total, and I only ate 1/2 for lunch, and took the other 1/2 for dinner. That is rather great in my mind to have a full day's food, restaurant made to order no less, for $10.
The gig is, there is a really small kitchen at Melt, and everything is cooked to order. That means, be patient, you are gonna be waiting around for about a half of an hour, so perhaps an option of beer or root beer should be enjoyed while you wait. Melt has a variety of hot sauces to put on the sandwiches if you like, and they have Sriracha, that Thai spicy sauce. It was perfect with my Wake and Bac. Melt also Mexican hot sauces if that is your pleasure. The slaw was actually interesting to me. It is made inhouse with a little salt, black pepper, a dash of cane sugar, and a splash of vinegar. It was really good to me, and I usually don't like slaw.
The waitress in my section was really knowledgeable about the food, ingredients and was an all around good staff member. I overheard her talking to the table next to me. The young woman was asking about vegan options for grilled cheese and any type of vegan meat substitutes. There is a complete vegan meal available here with vegan cheese, vegan sausage patty, and vegan bread. Vegans can't eat most American bread, especially sour dough because of the yeast involved. Sour dough, that is dough starter that is all about keeping a live yeast culture thiving by "feeding the mother" or as Anthony Bourdain would say "feeding the bitc@&" every week. I thought that was funny to go to a grilled cheese on bread restaurant when she won't eat the 2 main ingredients, bread and cheese, and then ask for a bread and cheese sandwich that really isn't bread and cheese. Amazingly enough Melt can do it, a complete non-cheese and bread, grilled cheese. I, however, opted for real cheese because I have been given the opportunity, in my adulthood, to enjoy the pleasures of cheese without having a reaction that could kill me.
OK, for you out there reading this, and will be in Cleveland in July, take note... The word on the street is that Guy Fieri, host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food TV Network will be filming at Melt, to showcase all the great grilled cheese options you can get there. Melt will be shut down for 2 days for filming, because the kitchen is way too small for the film crew, Guy and owner chef to be in kitchen at the same time and even fathom to carry on a normal day's business. What that means for you, if you are up there, they will need people to sit in as diners and patrons of Melt. Who knows, this may be your day for fame on TV!