It all started so simply: Great panini sandwiches on bread crafted expressly for that purpose, gooey with melted cheese and paired with fantastic sauces and sides, a few dinner specials and maybe some craft beer at the bar.
Things got complicated fast at Melt Kitchen & Bar.
Word spread about little spot at Golden Gate Shopping Center, pushing capacity in the kitchen and on the floor. The menu grew to incorporate more unique takes on bistro classics. And just as it began to thrum, owners Kim and Jeff Brewer had their first child.
When the space opened up on New Garden Avenue, along a short restaurant district off Battleground Avenue, it all fell into place.
Twice the size, with ample bar space, kitchen power and parking, more glass windows than the old place, without that problem of glaring, late-afternoon sun. Certainly enough to accommodate their vision.
Melt Kitchen & Bar $-$$
1941 New Garden Road, GSO
“We’ve got a full bar and lounge area now that lets us explore the cocktail side of things,” Kim says. “We just didn’t have the layout for it before, the space for the glassware or bottles of liquor. It also got us into brunch.”
Weekend brunch service offers a slate of classics along with rotating specials, she says.
“We also do bottomless mimosas,” she adds. “It’s popular.”
The larger kitchen allows Jeff to be more creative in his menu offerings, experiment with flavors and portions, develop vegetarian and vegan dishes that go beyond the basics.
The classic slate of panini still get attention, along with whatever new variations the kitchen can produce. A long list of burgers, sandwiches and wraps maintains the quality — including the award-winning BAT, a bacon-arugula-tomato sandwich that relies on Rudd Farms tomatoes, local bacon and the peppery bite of arugula, with just a slice of Havarti on it, because this is Melt, after all.
A short slate of tacos keeps it simple with fish, steak, shrimp or avocado. All the salads are signature items, unique to Melt. They still carry the Sunrise salad — with portabella mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, bacon and a fried egg — that became a favorite among the regulars at the old location.
They’ve still got the duck-confit flatbread and duck fries, the pulled-pork nachos and the almost-famous sprouts too.
But now there’s room for more.
“The new space has allowed us to explore new menu items and ideas,” Kim says. “We get to experiment without having to change the core of what we do.”
The baby is up and running around now, and the Brewers have closed the Irving Park shop in favor of this magnificent upgrade to the north. Like a growing family, the operation needed more space in which to thrive.
“I guess we were working towards this the whole time,” Jeff says. “This was our escape plan.”
“The funny thing is,” Kim says, “we didn’t realize we were working towards this as we were working towards this.”