One of the basic culinary treats in my opinion is the humble grilled cheese sandwich. As a former Wisconsinite, I believe somehow I am still legally required to consume a certain amount of dairy products monthly and I've never had a problem filling that quota.
I recently discovered a small local chain that's blowing up in NYC and the menu revolves around discovering amazing variations on the grilled cheese sandwich. I was hooked instantly. Their inventive concoctions raise the art of melting flavors into a hot cheesy bite of happiness turns a simple grilled cheese into a masterpiece.
The menu is simple. There are about 10 sandwiches a few salads and some simple sides available. The variations provide something that everyone will like and a side of tater tots is absolutely necessary to finish the meal.
On the particular day I sat down to review the food at Melt Shop, I ordered the Maple Bacon sandwich. Aged Cheddar and Brick Spread were perfectly melted into a cushion that enveloped Maple Glazed Bacon and was delightfully tucked between to perfectly toasted pieces of white bread. A side order of tater tots, or "shop tots" as they're called brought me back to school lunches, but classier as they were sprinkled with parmesan cheese. I finished the meal with one of the best strawberry lemonades I have ever tasted in my life.
Let's start with the sandwich. I've always preferred a sharp cheese. If a cheese doesn't have some attitude and gives you a little kick in the butt, you can get it away from me. This sandwich used a mix of sharp cheddar and a Brick Spread. For the uninformed, Brick Spread is a cheesy spread sold in a tub. It's a mix of Cheddar and Brick cheeses and has a magic taste that's very unique. It's sharp and salty and creamy and amazing. Combining this with the cheddar makes for a solid cheese base on the sandwich and the bacon had enough maple flavor that it was present in the sandwich but not overpowering.
Show me a person who doesn't love tater tots and I'll show you a person who's seriously insane. Melt Shop's "Shop Tots" aren't anything fancy, but when they toss some parmesan cheese on them, they add an adult touch to a childhood memory.
Finally, a special mention needs to be made about the strawberry lemonade. Unlike a lot of restaurants which make their lemonade so sweet it tastes fake like Kool-Aid, this is the real deal. There's a little sweetness, but it also packs a tart punch that is a very satisfying way to cut through the rich cheesy flavors of the meal. The strawberry flavor is very authentic too and was a great way to top off this meal.
My only gripe about the place is that it seems a little high-priced. Depending on the sandwich you get, a meal here can easily cost over $15. I think there would be value in including a basic order of shop tots with every sandwich and then up-charging for things like cheese sauce toppings.
Sum it up
What I got: Maple Bacon Grilled Cheese, Shop Tots and a Strawberry Lemonade
What I paid: $13.25
What I thought: Exciting new flavors raise a childhood favorite to an art form