(Ed. Note: This post has ended up kind of a companion piece to this week’s installment of Ted Berg’s Sandwich of the Week posts, which along with Wait Wait‘s Sandwich Monday are really the two sandwich features you absolutely need to read. I hope I live up to their standard.)
So on Friday, with nothing much to eat for lunch aside from some leftover broccoli, I decided to hit the brand-new Midtown East sandwichery, the Melt Shop. Located literally in a hole in the wall in the plaza of the Citicorp Center on Lexington and 53rd, the Melt Shop specializes in grilled cheese, and since I hadn’t had a grilled cheese sandwich in a while, I ate there.
What I Ate: Three Cheese Melt: Gruyere, Fontina, and goat cheese with roasted tomatoes on sourdough bread, at the Melt Shop (601 Lexington Avenue).
(By the way, it seems I accomplished what Ted couldn’t this week – provide a vegetarian sandwich to review. To which I say, MUAHAHAHAHA.)
What It Looked Like:
The Story Behind the Sandwich:
The line at the Melt Shop is incredibly, possibly excessively long. I cite two reasons for this: first, it’s new and people are wondering what the hype’s all about; second, the folks in that building have been so terribly served by corporate salad bars and Dunkin’ Donuts (no offense to Dunkin’, but having lunch there is still just plain silly) that when an affordable gourmet establishment comes around they flock to it like bees to nectar. In any case, I ended up waiting about 25 minutes just to order the sandwich – not a terrible thing considering unlike basically everyone on that line, I am a college student and have for all intents and purposes a three hour, twenty minute lunch break between my two Friday classes – and another 5 minutes or so after ordering to pick it up. While on the line the staff handed out ice cream sandwiches, which was a nice touch – not to mention pretty damn good ice cream sandwiches. But I wasn’t here for sandwiches of the dessert variety, I was there for sandwiches of the lunch variety.
(Related – does the Melt Shop really need to put everybody’s sandwich box in a huge bag with like three thousand napkins? That just seems wasteful. I kept the bag and the napkins (the latter of which coming in handy for my late dinner with Danielle and Kelly before the midnight showing of The Room to which we went), but I doubt others do the same.)
What It Tastes Like: It has a ridiculously strong cheesy flavor, without being too salty. (It was so strong a flavor that for about two hours afterwards, everything around me smelled like cheese – I seriously had to wash my hands and have a snack when I got back to Hunter to get the smell of cheese off my hands and mouth – the latter a sort of futile effort ’cause the Sun Chips I had had cheddar cheese powder in them.) The sourdough provides the perfect bread here – toasted very well, very crunchy. I’m not the biggest fan of putting tomatoes in grilled cheese – I’m more of a purist – but the folks at Melt Shop did so and did so with aplomb, mixing well with the cheese and oddly tasting almost bacon-ey (though that might have been just my imagination/paranoia of not keeping at least relatively Kosher).
Is It Worth It?: I paid about $10 for this sandwich and an Arnold Palmer (not counting the free chunk of ice cream sandwich). But it’s a damn good sandwich, and I say it’s worth that price. I don’t think it’s worth spending that much time on the line though – luckily, they’ll be opening up on weekends in the next week or so, so try to make a trip then. I’m rating this one 83/100 and a spot in my sandwich rotation with Subway sandwiches and the chicken schnitzel sandwich from Schnitzel and Things.