It’s almost getting boring to say things like “fast food restaurants are trying to one-up each other by creating increasingly more ridiculous menu items”. I say “almost” because frankly, I hope they keep it up. This is the stuff I live for. It’s my bread and butter, baby.
So when a friend graciously alerted me to Denny’s new Fried Cheese Melt, I knew I had to have it. Denny’s isn’t the usual type of place I’d go to get a food to review – you mean, there’s a person who shows me where to sit, hands me a physical menu, and checks up on my periodically to ensure I’m having a pleasant dining experience? What foreign land have I happened upon?
But the Fried Cheese Melt was too deliciously silly to resist. It’s part of a revamp of their $2 $4 $6 $8 Value Menu, replacing the Three-cheese melt with soup or garden salad, which falls into the $4 category. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Denny’s describes the Fried Cheese Melt as “made with four fried mozzarella sticks and melted American cheese grilled between two slices of sourdough bread. It is served with French fries and a side of marinara sauce.”
Yes, that is correct. Four fried mozzarella sticks stuffed inside a grilled cheese sandwich. Gawker calls it “culinary terrorism.” I call it AWESOME.
NRN also informed me that the new Value Menu doesn’t launch until August 24. My brain chose to ignore that statement, probably due to over-excitement, possibly because I was already sticking the keys into the ignition of my car. Either way, I found myself in my local Denny’s yesterday, eager to devour this potentially awesome, potentially lethal sandwich. You can imagine my disappointment when I didn’t find the sandwich on the menu. You can imagine my thoughts of suicide when I asked the waitress about it and she told me that it wouldn’t be out until next week.
And thus ends my non-review of the Fried Cheese Melt. Worst. Review. Ever.
But I like telling stories, so let’s just keep going! Who knows what kind of magical things could happen?
Resigned to my fate of not eating a Fried Cheese Melt and also of having to actually put pants on and leave the house again next week, I ordered a Spicy Buffalo Chicken Melt and consoled myself with a giant cup of ranch dressing. The sandwich was quite tasty, and the seasoned fries were really good. I tried to enjoy myself, but across the deserted restaurant they were conducting a training class, run by the female incarnation of R. Lee Ermey, so I could hear every word of what was going on. “The napkin-bundled silverware needs to be on the right of the place mat, not on top of it,” she shouted to a group of probably-terrified trainees. I looked down at my place mat, with its bundle carefully placed directly on top of the place mat on the left-hand side, and smiled a little.
But then they started talking about the new Value Menu items, and it’s like they were intentionally torturing me. A video was presented, where I could hear an overly cheerful gentleman describe in detail the sandwich that was beyond my grasp for another full week. Just as I was about to drown myself in ranch, our waitress magically appeared. Can you guess what she was holding?
“We have a treat for you! As you can tell, we’re doing some training over there,” she told me as she set the plate down on the table. “So, well, you know…” I wasn’t really sure what that last part meant, but I didn’t care. The sandwich was MINE! Tears welled up in my eyes and I thanked her profusely. My heart went from two times too small to just 1.5 times too small. Then I whipped out my extremely large camera and slid it across the table to my dining partner and sometimes-JFB-contributor Bob, because I’m too much of a sissy to take pictures of food outside the comfort of my own home. I didn’t tell Bob at the time, but I was also afraid the Feds would bust in and arrest me for culinary terrorism. I was happy I had the sandwich, but still heartless enough to throw him under the bus.
So, now that we’ve all gone through a classic tale of love lost and found again, how does this sandwich actually taste?
Well, it tastes like four mozzarella sticks inside a grilled cheese sandwich, which is actually pretty fucking delicious. The buttery grilled bread and the cheese surrounding the sticks keeps them firmly in place, which is great, because I hate when you’re eating mozzarella sticks and you take a bite and the whole gooey mess wants to stretch into your mouth and the breading gets all broken up. I also hate when the sticks get cold too fast, and I think the hot cheese helped to insulate them, keeping them warm and gooey but not falling apart. Additionally, the bread sopped up more marinara sauce, increasing surface area and absorbency so that a person who loves lots of dip like me could glob on as much as I wanted without the sauce sliding off. The marinara sauce was delicious, and the cup contained the perfect amount of it.
These are pretty much all of the things that I told the manager when he came over a little while later with our waitress. I knew he was the manager because he was wearing a tie! I felt like a rock star when he asked my opinion of the sandwich. I savored the feeling of power. My words could make or break this sandwich. Never mind the countless focus groups it probably went through before it hit my table; my word was Law. I could crush all the hopes and dreams of Denny’s marketing department with a single sentence.
But, like I said, I didn’t. I gushed and raved about it, and both the manager and waitress seemed very pleased by this. I bet the manager went home that night and told his wife all about how two twenty-something shlubs loved the new Fried Cheese Melt. She pretended to listen but was instead wondering if she remembered to record the new episode of The Real Housewives of D.C. It didn’t matter, though, because he was riding on Cloud Nine.
And thus ends my wonderful adventure at Denny’s. Ms. R. Lee Ermey provided great dining entertainment, I got a delicious sandwich that I wasn’t even supposed to have, I made a manager smile, and I got to feel like a rock star. Oh, and did I mention that the waitress didn’t even charge me for the Fried Cheese Melt? I hope I tipped her sufficiently, but really, you can’t put a price on such a lovely and somewhat surreal experience. Nay-sayers be damned; I’m two thumbs up on Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt.
Edit: Remember, the Fried Cheese Melt doesn’t launch until August 24. I got really lucky, but you might not.
- Score: 4.5 out of 5 hearts grown 0.5 times bigger
- Price: $0.00; normally $4.00
- Size: One sandwich with a side of marinara
- Purchased at: Denny’s #6491
- Nutritional Quirks: It’s probably chock full of everything bad for you, but who cares?