“I just don’t know how to deal with this,” gasped a young woman at a bordering table. Her hands were caked with grease as she was grappling with an enormous, impossible-to-bite-into “sandwich” of deep-fried fish and hush puppies garnished with mayo-leaking tartar sauce and slaw plus fries. This caloric avalanche, which was spackled with melted cheese and bundled inside fat-slicked extra-thick griddled bread, took over an hour to be delivered after being ordered. The wait for tables that night — which might’ve been spent merchandise-browsing for store-branded T-shirts, hoodies, pint glasses and toys — was two hours. That’s like three hours invested to buy something apparently designed not to fit into a human mouth. Welcome to Melt, Columbus.
While I was admiring what would turn out to be one of my new favorite homey pastries, the amazingly friendly counter guy broke my reverie by saying, “Go ahead, have one, it’s delicious.” As you already know, he was right. He was also one of the most hospitable people I’ve encountered in a restaurant in a while.
Have you noticed that Columbus has quietly become a leading veggie burger town? I call this the Northstar Effect. I became especially aware of the phenomenon recently while eating through a slew of new restaurants and being struck by how many now make their own veggie burgers. Let me clarify that: make their own veggie burgers that don’t suck a big dirty donkey.