The Melt came on the scene in a bright flash. Founded by a techie who made a lot of cash by selling his company, they set out to be The Chipotle of grilled cheese sandwiches. You know, because that is what the people were clamoring for, right? Well, here we are a few years on, and most of the locations have "temporarily" closed while they reconfigure their menu, operations, brand, whatever, and relaunch touting both their previous grilled cheese and now their addition of burgers to the menu. While many of the restaurants are not up and running yet, the original spot, which I visited way back when, has reopened with the burger menu available. So, of course, I found time to stop by and see if there was any fuss to be made of yet another burger joint in San Francisco.
They haven't changed the basic space, thus I'm guessing most of the changes were in the kitchen area to accommodate a burger grill. Turns out it's not just burgers they've added but also chicken breast sandwiches. Interesting. For each there are only 3 types to choose from. Since I'm here for the burger I decide to go all in and get the double bacon barbecue with "naked fries" and a drink for roughly $11 plus tax.
They did ask how I wanted it cooked so I said medium rare and props for actually cooking it with some pink to it. You get a 6 ounce-ish patty of angus/wagyu beef, aged white cheddar, 2 strips of bacon, grilled onions, tomato and barbecue sauce on a toasted potato bun. Size wise it's not the biggest burger around but it does compare with one you'd get at Super Duper Burger. Good things about this burger: cooked right, 2 generous strips of nicely crisp bacon, I always like grilled onions and the toasted bun did mostly hold up to the juicy burger. Not so good things with the burger: cheese got lost and you couldn't taste it, the whole thing was kind of salty (much like their grilled cheese), need more sauce--there was just a blip on the bottom which was ultimately fine for me as it was on the sweet side, me personally, I wanted some mayo but they didn't have it, it could have used some lettuce to give it crunch--texture wise it was all a bit one note. In the grand scheme those might not be bad things for most folks and in general terms I didn't hate the burger. Taken as a whole, it was decent enough (or maybe that's just the bacon talking), though I'd still choose Super Duper over these. Hard to put my finger on it but something about them just seemed processed even though they are made to order--or I'm just spoiled from all the burger choices available in this town.
The "naked fries" were also cooked to order (at least when I was there) so were hot and crispy and I enjoy a thin cut fry. The special Melt spice, which is that green stuff you see on the fries, only tasted like salt. I tried licking some of it off yet I still couldn't tell you what it was supposed to be so I'll just go with green salt and leave it at that. Good fries though.
I know the original intent of The Melt was to introduce some new casual fast food options to what is already out there. The fact it was grilled cheese was the gimmick that would make it different. But with their white tile and orange logo and metal seating the feel of the place comes off as more In-And-Out Burger than say a Panera. Adding burgers and chicken sandwiches to the mix only make it more standard fast food fare and not something different to seek out and try. While it is an okay burger, in this town that doesn't make it stand out from the pack, it makes it more of "oh it's here let's just grab a bite" than "oohh, we should really go try this!" That works fine if all you want to be is a fast food restaurant, but when you want to be a step up from that, not so much.