By Ron Rossi – The Jaded Traveler
Think of a “melt” and the first thing that comes to mind might be a Tuna Melt or a Patty Melt. A sandwich made with either tuna or flat burger on some toasted bread (usually white or rye) covered with onions and American cheese. Pretty standard fare. And, at least when it comes to a tuna melt, something your mom might have made for you way back when. So, when I heard of the Melt Shop I was thinking how can this be any different.
Well, it is.
This is a great find and worth a trip, even if the Melt Shop is a chain. There are currently 10 locations in New York, 3 in New Jersey, 2 in Pennsylvania, 1 in Delaware and 1 in Minnesota (go figure).
I have been to two of them now. Both in New York. (Union Square and Hell’s Kitchen) My favorite one is the one in Union Square. Maybe it is because I really like the team who is working there (and it was the first one I went to). But if these two are representative of the chain, then you cannot go wrong.
I actually brought a friend with me the first time. We had come to check out the new location and see what the buzz was all about. With so many options for sandwiches in the area, there was something about the look and feel of the Melt Shop we needed to look into. We were not disappointed.
Melt Shop is known for the freshly made warm sandwiches that can include toppings, cheese, and sauces. Thus the “melt”. There are also sides available. A small salad, but mostly Tater Tots. This is a nice change from the usual fries.
From the moment we walked into the small shop, we were impressed with how clean it was, and the warmth of the staff. Yanni, our hostess, greeted us with a loud “Hello” as we stepped up to the counter. The overhead menu display heralded the various options we could choose from – including a few seasonal choices. They all sounded good. It was hard to decide. And watching the people in the back we could see and smell the fresh sandwich melts they were making.
We decided to ask Yanni what her favorite choices were. She did not hesitate to recommend the Smoked Brisket with Chimichurri (Pepper Jack, Pickled Red Onions, Mixed Greens & Garlic Mayo) and the Fried Chicken with Pimento Cheese spread (plus lettuce and tomato). We also ordered two of the sides – a short top of Tater Tots (covered in parmesan cheese) and the Full-Loaded Tater Tots (cheese, bacon, and jalapenos). These came with different dipping sauces. You can try one or you can have them all. They are all a good accompaniment to the tater tots.
The sandwiches are prepared fresh and to order. You have to wait 7 minutes according to Yanni. And it is worth the wait. You can not only see them being made, but you can also smell them. Once done, they are served up warm.
As the sandwiches are a good size, my friend and I split our two meals. We each had half of a Brisket sandwich and half of the Fried Chicken with pimento cheese. Both were fresh and excellent. We also split the tater tots. We had so much we brought home some of the meal for later that afternoon.
I definitely recommend going with a friend. It is a great way to try two meals at the same time. Splitting is not a problem. The Melt Shop will even split the meal for you if you ask.
The shop in Union Square is small. About a dozen seats at counters along the wall and the front window. Most of the customers coming in were ordering their sandwiches and taking them out. We decided to stay in and enjoy the atmosphere.
The Melt Shop also offers more than just sandwiches. You can get salads, grilled cheese sandwiches (of course), burgers and chicken tenders. There are soda fountain drinks, as well as shakes (Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Nutella, and Oreo). Prices are reasonable for being in New York. Average lunch of a sandwich, tots and a drink might run you about $12 – $15. Most sandwich melts are about $9.49.
(One note: When I ate at the Hell’s Kitchen location I had the Roasted Veggies Melt, which consisted of roasted tomatoes & mushrooms, mixed greens, goat cheese, muenster & parsley pesto on multigrain bread. A really good choice for vegetarians.)
The Melt Shop is a great find. A good alternative to the other burger chains out there that are cropping up on every other street corner it seems. You will find a Melt Shop in most areas of Manhattan, so you are never too far. In fact, it might be worth the walk so you can eat some extra tater tots with cheese before heading back to the office or someplace else.
Melt Shop NEW YORK LOCATIONS:
55 West 26th
26th & 6th Ave
Phone: (212) 447-6358
8TH-NY – Hells Kitchen 877 8th Avenue
52nd & 53rd
Phone: (646) 781-8400
50TH-NY – Midtown West 135 West 50th
6th & 7th Ave
4TH AVE-NY – Union Square 135 4th Ave NYC
New York, NY
Phone: (646) 940-9900
111 Fulton Street
Fulton & Williams Phone: (646) 741-7910