Restaurants & Reservations: Dining in Cincinnati

What happens when a rabbi and a lawyer walk into a bar? We'll let you know in a few years, but until then we'll do our best to share with you our favorite (and not-so-favorite) Cincinnati restaurants and hope you'll share some with us, too!

Hooray! Another day hot enough to Melt.

Melt4165 Hamilton Avenue • Cincinnati, OH 45223 • (513) 681-MELT

His Take

After reading “Her Take” on Melt, I was excited when we finally had an occasion that called for us to head to the Northside for lunch one afternoon. Sure enough, we made our way to Melt, and I can now judge for myself that the food at Melt is terrific, even if it sometimes only comes after a long, long wait.

When I stepped into Melt I was immediately taken aback by the size of the place--or perhaps it was the lack thereof. Just inside the door is the front counter, where you place your order. On a mid-week afternoon, there were a handful of people there in line to order. There’s also only a few tables in the front room; however, those “in-the-know” will head straight to the back, past the kitchen, where there is room for another 20 or so patrons.

Melt’s menu is terrific. It has a huge variety of sandwiches, salads, and, um...melts. Obviously you don’t need to go anywhere special if you just want a plain boring sandwich; Melt’s dishes are anything but boring. From the mixed greens salad accompaniment to the unique combinations on the sandwiches (note I said unique, not “weird”), the dishes go well beyond the taste you’d find at a normal sandwich shop. For example, I had a turkey sandwich called “the Rachel,” which is “turkey, rubykraut (red cabbage & apples), swiss, and tangy sauce melted on rye.” I dare you to find that sandwich anywhere else, largely because I’d never heard of “rubykraut” before visiting Melt. Here’s another great example: the Yeehaw BBQ, which is “your choice of chicken or tempeh, sliced red onion, roma tomato, and banana pepper rings drizzled with lots of BBQ, and melted w/smoked mozzarella on a whole wheat hoagie. Just one word: wow. I was more than impressed with my lunch, which tasted even better than it sounded.

There was, however, one problem with our visit: it took forever. We were warned when we ordered that they were very busy, so it could be a little bit before our orders would be up. Somehow, we just didn’t expect that a restaurant making sandwiches (not a particularly complicated meal) would take nearly 30 minutes to make the food. I’m told that kind of wait is very unusual, but I guess I’ll have to go back to find out. Shucks :-)
Her Take

Having been there on my own once before, I was psyched when we agreed to go to Melt for lunch on a recent weekday. I think I stood and read the menu for a full five minutes before ordering. It’s a lot to take in, but it was okay because there were a few people in front of us, so I didn’t hold things up while I perused the delicious-sounding options.

In the end, I settled on the same choice as last time, the Artichoke Melt: artichoke spinach spread, sliced tomato, and white cheddar melted on focaccia. There were so many things that sounded great, but I remembered the pure bliss of my previous meal there, and it had been so long that I just wanted that same amazing meal again. I suppose if I want to try more items on their menu, I’m going to have to start visiting more often! I’m okay with that.

I considered getting something from the halve-sies menu, where you can order a half sandwich and half soup or salad, but then I was reminded that their mixed greens on the side of the whole sandwich are actually a fairly large portion—enough for me, at least, to count as a decently-sized healthy component to my meal. (The maple-balsamic dressing? Yum.)

As stated to my left, the only real letdown of the meal was the wait time. We assumed we would have to wait a few minutes, because they do make sandwiches to order, mine had to be melted, and another friend we were with asked for the meat on her sandwich to be heated for longer than usual. (She’s pregnant and being understandably careful about everything.) But we certainly did not expect to wait almost a half an hour for our meals. It was a little sad that we had to cut short our lunch out so that we could get back to work on time. Melt is a fun place to just sit and talk, and the back room is fairly peaceful in a way that the front is not—the back does not have nearly as much foot traffic!

All in all, a place where delicious food trumps a longer than expected wait is still a good lunch spot in my book, and having been there before, I easily dismissed the wait as unusual. Simply put, I can’t wait to go back and prove that the timing is not consistently slow, but the food is consistently delicious.

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