August 8th, 2013
I continued my exploration of the stretch of W. 26th St, between Broadway & Sixth Ave., with lunch today at the Melt Shop. Expectations were high, results mixed. The concept is a good one: Grilled cheese sandwiches in a dozen or so permutations, from basic (American cheese on white bread) to gourmet (“The Shroom”: havarti and goat cheese, roasted wild mushrooms and parsley pesto on whole grain bread). But … The place was hopping at 3 p.m., with two chefs and three grills working overtime to meet orders. Therein lies problem No. 1: too long a wait—15 minutes—for fast food. Problem No. 2: Where’s the taste? For my first visit, I was reckless and disobeyed my cardinal rule: See if the restaurant can walk before it runs. I should have ordered the classic, but went for the Smokehouse Turkey Club. You would expect some flavor to emerge from smoked Gouda, bacon, smoked turkey breast and barbecue sauce. Nothing. And I now know what was wrong with the bland side of cheesy tots: The cheddar and American cheese sauce had been left off. (Substitute chewy tots for cheesy tots, and you get the picture.) I never did get the iced tea I ordered. The container had to be refilled, I was told. But wait another 15 minutes for that to happen? I settled for Seagram’s ginger ale, which leads to problem No. 3: There were no diet sodas in the drinks dispenser. But there is beer on tap. Perhaps I should have gone that route? All in all, as to service, food-quality and price ($15 for the above), this gig isn’t ready for primetime. Still, one can always find something to like: Eats can be consumed in the pleasant park/pedestrian mall that runs between W. 26th and W. 27th streets. It’s spacious, breezy and quiet. A graffiti Cheshire cat on one wall—yellow, with white wings (!)—amuses; and in the distance, the sight of the Empire State Building's antenna still makes a tourist of this native.