MELT: Yes, It Really is That Good

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By Jack Minchew

melt
Photo credit: Jack Minchew

As is to be expected from such an affluent area, Loudoun County, and Leesburg in particular, is filled with “gourmet” restaurants: gourmet pizza, gourmet Italian, gourmet hot dogs, and of course, gourmet hamburgers. For Loudouners willing to dish out the cash, there are a number of establishments that serve high quality burgers. Foremost among them is MELT, located in the Bellwood Commons shopping center on East Market Street.

I feel the need to be honest: When MELT first opened in April 2012, I ate there and didn’t think that they would last the year. Not because MELT’s food wasn’t good, but rather because it was too good. I doubted that enough people would be willing to purchase expensive hamburgers, regardless of quality, to cover the costs of the high-quality ingredients that MELT uses. Two years later and multiple “Best Burger” titles since, I am happy to say that I was wrong.

When you first enter MELT, what strikes you is the completely open kitchen and grill, designed, I assume, to show that the cooks have nothing to hide. Diners order at a counter that divides the kitchen from the eating area, and a long bar runs along the opposite wall underneath the truly massive menu.

Infographic by Jack Minchew
Infographic by Jack Minchew

Ahh…. the menu.  In addition to the standard burgers (cheese, bacon-cheese, double), MELT offers shrimp burgers, tuna burgers, crab burgers, turkey burgers, bison burgers, and multiple variations on the normal hamburger.  Sides include onion rings and fries served with their house sauce, and the drink selection is excellent.

MELT is almost always packed, so finding a space in the crowded dining area can be tricky, but once you do, the atmosphere is great, albeit a little cramped. The owners are clearly animal lovers, as the walls are covered in pictures of animals at the Loudoun County Animal Shelter in need of adoption, which is unnerving at first, as you get the distinct impression that that cocker spaniel to the left of you wants to eat your lunch.

The servers brought my cheeseburger and onion rings to the table, and in a few seconds I was in burger nirvana. The meat was fresh and delicious, the buns were flakey and puffy, yet strong enough to hold up to the burger, and the other ingredients were equally superior. The house sauce was savory, and served as an excellent garnish for the burger and delicious dipping sauce for onion rings. Overall, I have very little recollection of the experience, because I truly couldn’t think of anything other than the next bite, a tendency I can usually conquer.

MELT has already earned countless “best burger” accolades, and they can certainly include mine. It’s not cheap, but when comes down to pure burger perfection, MELT takes the crown: Best Burger in Leesburg.