Melt, more than just any any adjective.

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first official trip to Cleveland, Ohio.  Outside of driving through, and heading to an Indian’s game, I really have not spent so much time there.  While there, I had the opportunity to visit Melt Bar and Grilled.  This place is not your average hole in the wall restaurant.  Man v. Food has filmed an eating challenge there.  In 2008, it was named as one of the best sandwiches in America.  The restaurant’s “raves & reviews”  boasts more than its fair share of praise – and here’s why.

Parma, Italy

Winter Chicken






The sandwiches are hearty, there’s no disputing that.  I had theParma, Italy: think of it like chicken parmigiana on texas toast with a side of hand-cut fries.  My dining companion had the Winter Chicken:  a spicy pepper-jack coated chicken breast also served on texas toast with a side of fries.   Both were delicious.

The atmosphere in the restaurant (We visited the Detroit Ave local) was refreshing – not just a bunch of college kids hanging out, but there were some families, couples, groups.. a nice gathering of people from all walks of life.  The staff was very accommodating and attentive.  Other than waiting for a table (we waited just over an hour for lunch on a Sunday), it didn’t take too long for orders to come out.  They also use a creative system for those waiting for a table – name tags the customers had to wear boasting celebrities or characters (yours truly had “Hannah Montana”).

Would I go there again?  Definitely!  I would love to try just the basic grilled cheese next time (or Kindergarten, as they call it).  The next time you make it Cleveland – be sure to try this place out – you won’t regret it.

Vietnamese Cuisine comes to South Dayton

Pho Mi Vietnamese Restaurant recently opened near my home in Dayton, Ohio.  Being a major foodie, I’m usually pretty tough when it comes to first tastings at restaurants.  And coming from a Vietnamese family, I’m extremely picky about how a dish tastes when its served on a restaurant scene.

My visit to this restaurant began with a simple Google search to see what previous reviews had been written – alas – I found none!  There were plenty of articles about the opening – like this one from the Dayton Daily News – which makes me wonder about Pho Mi’ owners and chefs credibility.  Then, I lucked out and actually found that the owners had created a web site (big surprise!).  The web site opens with a creative little flash text scroll, then opens up to the main site which gives all the essential info.  A PDF version of their lunch and dinner menu were also available.

After taking a careful look at both menus – I was even more skeptical to trying out this place.  For a place that claims to be about Vietnamese cuisine – they sure don’t know how to spell a lot of the menu items.  Many of them (all 200+) had words flip flopped in the wrong order (in Vietnamese – the English translation was pretty spot on) and whoever designed the menu – clearly doesn’t believe in spell check.  Another pet peeve on the web site was the use !!! before and after !!! every major phrase.  Really?

So it was decided that my mom and I would try this place out on a whim.  We stopped in about 7 p.m. on Saturday night to find the place pretty dead – only a few tables of people full.  We ordered an appetizer (goi cuon/summer rolls) and an entree (mi xao don & ga/crispy egg noodles with chicken and vegetables) to share.  Service was okay – I would not have expected any less since there were 3 servers and 5 tables of people.  What I didn’t like, was the fact that they were all staring at everyone in the dining room eating – made me very nervous.

Goi Cuon -Vietnamese Summer Roll

Our goi cuon came at $1.50 a roll (a bit steep) for an egg-roll sized dish.  It was passable as our starter, though there was something off about it that just made it taste a bit different from having it at home or at other notable Vietnamese restaurants.

Mi Xao Mem Ga - Soft Egg Noodles with Chicken - the "wrong" dish

When our mi xao came out, it was the wrong dish.  They had given us the soft noodles instead of the crispy ones.  Despite being open for nearly a month, it seemed that the servers were not so familiar with the menu yet, or what the dishes themselves are.

After a bit of discussion, they finally agreed to bring us the actual dish we ordered.  It was actually better than I had expected.  The only downfall was that the portion was on the small to average size for about $9.50.  I’ve had the same dish else where for a couple bucks cheaper with twice the goods so it was pretty surprising. that I didn’t leave the place stuffed.

Mi Xao Don Ga - Crispy Egg Noodles with Chicken - the "right" dish

Overall – I give this place B.  It wasn’t dead on what I was hoping for, but I will definitely be going back to try something else.  If my family weren’t conveniently in the same city, I could see myself possibly coming here to get my Vietnamese cravings taken care of.