Between a global pandemic and not just one but two separate lockdowns, 2020 has been pretty bleak. So it stands to reason that we’re all in need of some comfort food – not to mention a glass of wine. However, thanks to Meltdown, Dublin’s favourite cheesy café, there’s no longer a need to choose between the two.
Last week, it was announced Meltdown was set to open its second prime city centre location at 15 Montague Street, Dublin 2. The brainchild of Maeve O’Malley, Meltdown was first set up in 2018 initially intended as a pop-up. The overwhelming popularity of the café led to O’Malley opening a permanent fixture on Lesson Street Lower. And yet despite the inevitable difficulties the past six months has brought to all businesses, O’Malley has managed to not only maintain but grow her business.
“At the start of the pandemic, I was in a vulnerable position with Meltdown having a location in the Button Factory which was on a rolling contract and the lease on the Leeson Street location was due to expire in November 2020,” O’Malley tells FOOD&WINE. “Initially, the drop in sales was huge and I quickly made the decision to discontinue our Button Factory location. I didn’t think we would survive. But we expanded the menu to offer breakfast, cold sandwiches and salads and homemade cakes and cookies. Then gradually the Leeson Street location got busier and busier and suddenly Meltdown was doing better than ever before.” Keen to find a more permanent home for Meltdown, O’Malley set her eyes on Montague Street. “I saw the location back in June and immediately fell in love with the space and it’s potential. It’s a beautiful south facing, red brick building that just a great vibe,” says O’Malley. “It also has the option of a fifteen-year lease which was a major plus for me. Ever since opening Meltdown, I found it really difficult to secure a long term space, I’m just so relieved now that I have the comfort of knowing I will be here for the long haul.”
However, Meltdown on Montague Street is not just going to be just another café. In the new year, the new location will become a day-to-night dining experience with the addition of the evening ‘Winedown’ menu. “The ultimate plan was to open from 7.30 am until 3.30 pm as Meltdown with our regular menu. Then from 5 pm until late, we would open up as Winedown with our evening menu and of course, wine,” explains O’Malley. “But I made the decision to hold off on the official opening of Winedown until we know we can open and stay open as it just doesn’t make sense to hire more staff and then have to let them go again at Christmas.” Instead, Meltdown on Montague Street will open as the regular café from 10 am until 8 pm with the addition of their wine menu and a few dishes from the Winedown evening menu.
But come 2021 and clearer guidelines for restaurants and bars, Winedown will open as planned serving up Irish seasonal food in sharing portions. “I love Irish food and tapas-style dining is something I adore so it’s a menu I’m really passionate about,” says O’Malley. The menu was curated by award-winning chef Maeve Walsh who joined the Meltdown team during lockdown. For breakfast, expect burritos packed with eggs, bacon, hash brown and mozzarella and of course Meltdown’s very own HotStuff hot sauce or opt for the veggie version with eggs, mushrooms hash brown, mozzarella and HotStuff hot sauce. For something lighter, the Bircher Museli will set you up for the day with rolled oats, apple cinnamon, hazelnut and maple syrup. For lunch, the cheesy melts still reign supreme with favourites including Ribmelt (pork ribs, macaroni and cheese, red cheddar, caramelised onions on sourdough bread). And for vegans, there’s the Vegan Hun (vegan mozzarella, secret Meltdown cajun sauce, tomato, red onion and rocket). There’s also spicy tomato soup and the new addition of tasty salads like the Salmon of Knowledge with hot smoked salmon, potato salad, pickled cucumber and mixed leaves. And not one to miss out on a food trend, Meltdown will also be serving up freshly baked cookies. Think: Nutella, chocolate chip and triple chocolate. The wine list, on the other hand, has been curated by Nicola Huges but it’s not your typical wine menu. “We will choose three really unusual wines by the glass each month for customers to try, everything else will be by the bottle,” explains O’Malley.
As for what the rest of 2021 holds for Meltdown, O’Malley has high hopes. “Meltdown is doing well and I think that’s only going to get better once we get over this pandemic. I can, of course, see numerous Meltdown locations but I also don’t plan on expanding aggressively.”