It was a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon and while I didn’t find grilled cheesus, I did find a limit to my waistband at Melt It!, Pasadena’s self-proclaimed “Grilled Cheese Co.”

Melt It!’s Pinterest-worthy rustic interior is brought to life by red and green wooden chairs, a towering chalkboard menu, and bucket light fixtures. The splash of red and yellow walls perfectly cohere with the classic Heinz ketchup and mustard bottles atop the tables.

Nostalgia defines the restaurant from atmosphere to menu. Black and white photographs of American iconography line the walls. One in particular, features a freckled, red-haired boy as he holds a gooey grilled cheese. The giddish expression on his face effectively cements the grilled cheese as an [American] childhood staple. The menu offers grade school throwbacks with a twist like “The Cheesiest Mac n Cheese”- a mac n cheese stuffed grilled cheese. For dessert, fried oreos and PB&J served with a cold glass of milk.

By the time I had checked my phone (with a historic zero new messages), my food had arrived. Beyond the speedy service, the cashier was extremely attentive and better yet, served me my fried oreos ($3) without a side of judgment. My only complaint is that the employees didn’t have name tags with cheesy jokes on them. A swissed opportunity, indeed.

I ordered a “Tobasco Melt” sans bacon ($7). Between two toasty slices of sourdough slathered in tabasco butter, laid a promising amount of monterey jack, vine tomatoes, and avocado. Tomatoes and cheese are a duo for the ages, on par with Cher and Dionne, but the tabasco butter is what truly elevated the dish. It gave a pop of flavor, adding complexity to an otherwise classic recipe like pairing red lipstick with a black dress. Sadly the flavor of the avocado got lost amidst the butter, though it’s plant green hue allowed me to deludedly rationalize that I was “basically eating a salad”.

If people watching is on your list of hobbies, this place attracts a wide variety of them. One group of elderly women dominated the large wooden table in front, donning matching running shoes and side salads, where Golden Girls meets the Plastics. Across the way, a family with two daughters bonded over the comfort food. In the corner, a picturesque young couple momentarily melted the ice from my bitter, little heart, as they split a root beer float and a plate of fries, my modern (and less problematic) version of Danny and Sandy.

Adding to the vintage vibe, the speakers hummed familiar and eerily prophetic rock tunes. “Dream on, dream on, dream until your dream come true,” crooned Steven Tyler as my bowl of sweet potato fries ($4) was set before me. Sadly, in a cruel twist of fate, I’ll have to keep dreaming since my dreams of crisp fries were remiss. The word ‘unremarkable’ comes to mind. And later, Queen’s “Under Pressure” played as I debated whether or not to splurge on an order of fried oreos (I did) and risk being late to work (I was). I would’ve preferred them unfried, but they did inspire me to go to the gym that night.

The Mad Men aesthetic and creative menu are enough to pull me back when I’m in need of comfort food (or Instagram likes), though the prices and lackluster sides will keep me from being a regular. B-

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