In a city that values technological innovation as highly as local produce, The Melt has been generating some serious buzz since its opening at the end of August. Owner Jonathan Kaplan, creator of the Flip video camera, worked with Michael Mina to create a menu featuring grilled cheese sandwiches, soups and sides. Though the lunch offerings may seem standard, the way this place operates is not. Diners place orders from their mobile devices, then they pay using individualized QR codes. Will the fusion of low-tech food and highfalutin technology win San Francisco over? More importantly, does it taste good?
The Cheese News: “How’s the food?” writes 7x7’s Laura Mason. “You'll never get something as homemade-tasting at a Quizno's or a Chipotle.” Mason, who tried the Wild Thing combo, notes that the meals “aren’t gutbombs.” The Huffington Post's Rachel Metz found the cheese “flavorful and gooey” and the bread “somewhat crisp and airy.” Not everyone was so enamored. Chowhounder jjspinach says “The bread was more reminiscent of Wonder than Arizmendi. The tomato soup tasted almost exactly like $1.99 Trader Joe's fare.” Chowhound's johnq adds, “The cheese had the texture of heated Velveeta and little to no taste.” [7x7, Huff Post, Chowhound]
The Two-Minute Wait News: One of The Melt’s selling points is its promise to have customers out the door in two minutes or fewer, but Yelper Susan J. waited “6 minutes” just to order, and Brent G. spent “7 minutes” from ordering to pickup. [Yelp]
The Eco News: Chain Store Age has notes on the design a la AvroKO. Furnishings are “made entirely of recycled materials, from the walls to the floors," and all packaging is “plastic-free and independently BPI certified compostable.”" [CSA]
The Order Pickup News: The order retrieval system uses customers’ initials (or initial, in some cases) rather than numbers to identify orders. Number advocate Dustin H.says “it's pretty hard to confuse 79 and 34.” But Yelp's Samantha B. counters, "Honestly I was fine with the time it took to procure lunch but not cool with the drawn out, semi comical "is this mine?" game. Everything was labeled with initials, but what did the initials mean? JJ, G, EJ, HH, BR. Seriously?" [Yelp]
The Cookie News: Yelper Alissa A. claims the chocolate chip cookie “stole the show,” but diner jjspinach thought the dessert was “very supermarket-refrigerator-cookie-ish.” [Yelp, Chowhound]
The Price News: Melts are available for $5.75 a pop, while a combo will set you back $8.75. SF Station's Keith Mizuguchi feels the meals are “a bit pricey for what you get,” Chowhound commenter jjspinach adds that his meal “would have been fine for a mall in suburbia,” but “definitely not for the price.” [SF Station, Chowhound]
The Vegetarian-Friendly News: According to 7x7, the menu currently includes four vegetarian soups, and vegan selections are on the horizon. Kaplan is looking into vegan fare “using avocado or hummus,” vegan cheese having “too many preservatives for The Melt’s taste.” [7x7]
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