The people who work at The Melt have been spying on me. They must have been. It’s one thing for a restaurant to have exactly what I want to eat and just the right sides and drinks, but to have only those things? Yeah, coincidence my butt.
The other day I found myself wandering around Stanford Shopping Center, a well-to-do outdoorsy mall type place right in the middle of Palo Alto. It’s a nice place to shop and all, but it’s not really my cup of tea. If I was in the market for a size minus three cocktail dress or a Swarovski encrusted penguin, I’d probably think this mall was the bees knees. What I really wanted was lunch, though, and the standard mall fare I’d found so far just wasn’t cutting it. After what seemed like tens of minutes of searching, I finally located a directory with actual directions on it. (Mini rant: Why has every mall in America replaced their maps with advertisements? Ads do no good at all if I can’t find the stupid stores they go to.) As I scanned the the directory I spied The Melt. That sounded to me like either a heated yoga studio or a Modern English souvenir store, both very likely choices in a place like Palo Alto. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check it out.
I made my way to the other end of the mall, dodging Armani baby strollers by the dozen and doing a pretty good OJ-Simpson-in-an-airport impersonation in the process. As I made my way through yet another swarm of people in overpriced Pilates outfits, I caught a glimpse of The Melt. The restaurant sports a clean, utopian orange-and-white color scheme and a menu straight out of my dreams.
First thing on the menu: Grilled cheese. OMG
Second thing on the menu: Grilled cheese. …and then I fainted.
” That sounded to me like either a heated yoga studio or a Modern English souvenir store “
The entire menu, in fact, revolves around this single, exquisitely perfect food. There are different choices for bread, cheese, and various add-ins (like bacon!), and there are also soups and salads to be had. The beverage menu is equally brief, with the primary choices being iced tea, lemonade, and water. It’s perfect.
It took me exactly 12.7 seconds to notice the Mac Daddy, a grilled cheese WITH MACARONI AND CHEESE IN IT. Holy heck I love this place. One of those please with, oh yes, a side Caesar salad and an iced tea. Talk about a slam dunk. To top things off the cashier asked, “Would you like chips or a pickle?” PICKLE! Hot dang this place is on fire.
I filled up the environmentally friendly plastic-like cup with tea and settled down to enjoy my golden, crispy, macaroni-y lunch. The thing that surprised me was not the high quality of the food, but how well portioned everything was. My grilled cheese wasn’t a super duper über mega glutton-size sandwich – it was just a sandwich. The iced tea was a respectable (and refillable) 20 ounces, and the salad was …well, salad-sized. Outstanding. It was just enough to eat without making me split my pants, and yet it was still delicious and awesome. Somewhere along the way our society has managed to forget that more doesn’t always equal better; it’s nice to see that someone remembered. Add to that some snazzy online ordering tools and lightning quick service, and we’ve got ourselves a real winner here.
If I had to nitpick something, it would be what my lunch was served in. Instead of plates or plastic containers, The Melt opts for reusable wire mesh baskets lined with a single sheet of what looks like wax paper. I well and truly appreciate the environmentally friendly approach – really, I do – but eating salad off of a piece of paper just doesn’t work. By the end of my meal the paper had soaked through with dressing, leaving large soggy holes for the lettuce to fall through to the maybe-clean counter top directly below. Gross.
In spite of the eating receptacle issues, I rate The Melt a phenomenal 9.3 out of 10 metric tons of cheddar. If you’re a grilled cheese fanatic like I am, you owe it to yourself to grab a bite here.