Burgers in the Bubble: Stacked and The Melt

Last month was National Burger Month, and if I hadn’t been busy helping run a PFA, parenting some children, hosting family in town for a First Communion, working at a freelance gig, and oh, being a wife and the CEO of our house, I would have posted these stories then. But, this is how it goes.

stacked and the melt burgersBurgers at Stacked and The Melt

Even though it’s no longer the official time of the burger, you can still enjoy one or three at one of these places near you.

New: The Melt at Westlake Promenade

This new burger joint just opened a few weeks ago in the Westlake Promenade on the far side toward the movie theater. They cleverly invited locals to come in and sample the food for free, and everyone knows the deep pockets in this town love freebies, so the line was out the door and down the patio, undoubtedly creating some buzz for the opening.

exterior of The Melt Westlake Village

The Melt is the latest in a healthy-leaning fast casual trend. A rep from the restaurant told us that all ingredients are natural – they don’t even serve diet soda because that shizz is bad for you, yo. Cane cola, root beer, lemon-lime, and brewed iced tea and water are your choices. Here’s the company line:

THE MELT is committed to bringing fresh, 100% all-natural, real ingredients to everyday American classics.  Their made-to-order menu of ‘real happy food’ includes hot-n-crispy grilled cheese melts, juicy burger melts, fresh chicken melts, fries, salads, hand crafted soups, mac & cheese and deliciously refreshing soft serve ice cream.

IMG_9501The Melt SignageSounds great, but what’s it like? Well, from the moment you enter, you can grab a menu at the door and decide while you’re waiting. You order at the counter and wait for your initials to be called. What’s different here is that there is a real-time message board on the wall that shows you where your order is in the lineup so you know how close yours is to being ready. Pretty cool.

The Melt Food

The food itself was delicious and tasted fresh. In my party we sampled a burger, a chicken sandwich, the truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, a field greens salad that is served with goat cheese, green apple, toasted sunflowers seeds, and white balsamic dressing, and of course, sweet potato fries. We also tried the two soups that are always on the menu: tomato basil and sweet corn tortilla.

Everything was delicious and for me the standouts were the soups, probably because it was a drizzly day. The sandwiches were smaller than I’ve seen in other burger places lately, but I didn’t mind that. I finished the whole thing and enjoyed every bite, but I didn’t feel overly full at the end, which was nice.

Children’s meals include burgers, grilled cheese, mac ‘n’ cheese (but for kids it’s not as fancy – I brought home a sample for my boys and they fought over it, which is a good seal of approval), and Caesar salad. Desserts include soft serve ice cream and a variety of tasty-sounding shakes.

The prices here are reasonable – a combo meal of burger, fries, and drink is $8.95. Knowing that the founders of the restaurant created it because they wanted a healthy alternative to crappy fast food, the price seems worth it. NB for PFA/PFC’ers in town: they give 25% to your school on Restaurant Night.

Tech-Savvy: Stacked at The Oaks Mall

Stacked is a robot-serviced restaurant in The Oaks Mall across from The Cheesecake Factory where Buddha’s Belly used to be.

stacked at the oaks mall thousand oaks

This place has been here for a while now but on this occasion I got the pleasure of watching my kids, my dad, and my husband all try to figure out how to order. Okay, it’s not robots, it’s iPads. And human people bring out your food and drinks. But it sounds cool to say it’s robots, who I’m sure can’t be far behind.

The gimmick here is that there’s an iPad at every table at Stacked and you can flip through the menu and add anything you want. You can build your own burger or mac ‘n’ cheese or even cocktail, or you can choose from one of Stacked’s many pre-designed dishes and drinks. Then you press “send” and your order is in. Once you get the hang of it, the process is pretty easy, and can be faster than having to catch the eye of your server as he or she flies by on the way to someone else’s table. Of course my children caught on much more quickly than the adults did, and once I convinced my son that he couldn’t build a burger with 100 slices of tomato, our order was in.

stacked food

My dad ordered the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese and he was pretty pleased with it. In fact, he’s had mac ‘n’ cheese all over America and he said this was a favorite. My husband had the jalapeno bacon burger which was impressive and tasty but a little clumsy to eat since it was so…stacked. The kids ate plain cheeseburgers (boring) but they loved them. We sampled a serving of plain mac ‘n’ cheese, because we are on a search for the perfect one, but this one has pepperjack cheese in the sauce. While I like that favor, the kids do not. They are cheese purists. (The kids’ menu mac ‘n’ cheese is Kraft, which I find curious. I mean, why do restaurants do this? I can make this for them at home for less than a dollar.) That said, everyone loved the fries. We sort of fought over them.

I had the Cow in the Garden salad topped with flat iron steak, which I devoured. The star of my meal was the strawberry basil cocktail – shaken up with gin it was a nice refreshing counterpoint to the rich beef on my salad.

IMG_9617

Nobody really had room for dessert, but a meal just isn’t complete without some chocolate in the mix, right? My older son ordered a build-your-own ice cream sandwich that he designed on the iPad: chocolate cookies, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate and peanut butter sauces on the side. The younger one designed his own milkshake: some chocolate and some more chocolate in a glass. All were delicious. Just look at my son’s expression:

stacked ice cream sandwichTo end your meal at Stacked you just tell the iPad you want to pay, swipe your card on the side, add a tip to the total, and you’re done. Your receipt will be emailed to you. Pretty cool, huh? Aside from the novelty of the iPad ordering, the food at Stacked does measure up, so it’s worth it to visit for the food, too.

Just for kicks, since I knew I was doing this post last month, or eventually, I tasted my pal’s veggie burger at Veggie Grill in Westlake Village.

veggie grill burger

It tasted burgerish. I mean it gives you the experience of eating a burger without actually having the meat. But as a meat lover, I prefer…meat. Better option is the carrot cake that comes with the kid’s meal pictured above.

What’s YOUR favorite burger in town? Now that I’m on this kick, I’d like to try it. Please let me know in the comments and if we’re not already following each other on instagram, ping me at @agourahillsmom. Thanks!

My companions and I dined as guests of The Melt and Stacked. All opinions in this article are my own.

Comments

  1. I can’t believe you did this research without me! I come from a long line of burger lovers! My fav around here? The Counter is doing good work, and Hook isn’t too shabby either. But I am certainly missing The Ranch, and am saddened that this local, small biz just went under. Boo, Agoura/WLV. Mmmmm, burger!

Leave a Reply to Laurel Cancel reply

*