So I have to be honest. When I ate at the Melthouse Bistro last Friday night, it was not my original intention. We were on our way to eat at Hotch-a-Do, an old favorite, but were dismayed to find that it was closed for renovations. Determined not to go home hungry, we walked the half block down Kenilworth to the Melthouse Bistro, the new grilled cheese fast casual restaurant in the area. A fan of grilled cheese, I had been meaning to check it out, and this was as good a time as any.
On entering Melthouse Bistro, I was immediately taken aback by the decor. I knew that this was a newish locally-owned business, but the vibe was distinctly that of a corporate chain. I even pulled out my phone to double check and make sure I hadn’t gotten my facts wrong. (Nope, it’s an independent Milwaukee-based business.)
The setup is familiar: order your food from a big board at a counter up front, then take a numbered sign to your table to wait for your food. The menu consists of over 20 different types of grilled cheese, with various breads, cheeses, and fillings, including five tempting vegetarian options. Gluten-free bread was also available for an extra $0.95. Each sandwich came with the choice of apples, grapes, chips, or cole slaw, or a $0.95 upgrade for a cup of soup or side salad. Additionally, there were several available salads, soups, and sides. There is wine and beer available, and each menu item optimistically makes a pairing suggestion.
I ordered The Athena (feta, grilled eggplant, red onion, tomatoes, kalamata olive tapenade on foccacia with a side of tzatziki sauce, $6.95) with a side salad. The sandwich was tasty with thickly sliced bread and large pieces of eggplant. The tapenade was fresh tasting and flavorful, and the tzatziki was a nice addition (vegetarians don’t often have the opportunity to dip their sandwiches). Feta doesn’t really melt, so with no binder, the sandwich quickly turned into a mess, but I firmly belief that the worth of a sandwich is correlated to its messiness. The salad was about what you’d expect, some lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, choice of dressing on the side.
Steph ordered The Hartland (Wisconsin aged sharp cheddar, baby swiss, caramelized onions and tomatoes on multi-grain bread, $6.95) with cole slaw. It was a much more traditional grilled cheese, with nice sweetness from the onions, and similarly thick cut bread. The sandwich was altogether quite tasty, though it was a bit soggy, probably from a combination of the onions and tomatoes. Both sandwiches were relatively greasy. The cole slaw was fresh and crunchy, with _____________.
All in all, this was a very fulfilling and satisfying meal. Everyone loves a grilled cheese, and for the price these were fairly good, and the menu variety was fantastic. The quality of the ingredients were all quite good, with fresh produce and flavorful breads. The sandwiches weren’t anything to send you into a tizzy, but they weren’t anything to complain about either. In the end, this is a nice addition to the neighborhood, and I’ll probably be back sometime for a quick and affordable grilled cheese.