I had my first taste of the technology-focused nationwide grilled cheese concept The Melt, founded by Silicon Valley exec Jonathan Kaplan, at the Sugar Inc. five-year anniversary party back in June, before it opened in the Financial District in late August. At our special preview, I tasted two combos: the classic, sharp cheddar on potato bread with two-tomato basil soup, and the Wild Thing, aged gruyere on white wheat with creamy wild mushroom soup. Today, I got a taste of The Melt for the second time — after the just-opened hullabaloo had settled — to see how it stacked up.
Since the fast-food spot cut the ribbon, as any restaurant in this foodie town does, it's had its share of criticisms; nobody trusts an early applause, do they? Most complaints have been of the "I could make this better at home" variety: it needs a slather of butter, or where's the Kraft cheese? Another commenter in the SF interweb said something to the chagrin of: "isn't the point of grilled cheese that you're too lazy to leave the house?" Eater has also gone into in-depth analysis of the place today with its early word report, citing pros and cons across categories. All valid points.
In all reality though, no grilled cheese chain — with swanky, patented, 60-second melting machines or not — will ever live up to the nostalgia of what our mothers made for us when we couldn't cook for ourselves. So let's take that off the table. And let me remind you that you're not at home with a tablespoon of butter at hand (where you can lazily craft your GC): you're at New Montgomery and Mission streets and you're 10 minutes late to a meeting. Even if you want to whip up a Mom-style grilled cheese for a work-day lunch, you can't.
Ready to turn that frown upside down? Here are eight things that I honestly, really, truly do love about The Melt.