Well, how would YOU define what constitutes a patty melt? A PROPER patty melt?
Based on several factors… my lengthy experience as a restaurant cook in several different locations, discussion I’ve had with others, items I’ve read, etc… the proper definition of a patty melt comes down to this…
- Hamburger patty
- Swiss cheese
- Grilled onions
- Grilled rye bread
That’s it. Some people like to add 1000 Island Dressing, but that’s an addition. Same with bacon. Now, I prefer to have it on toasted sourdough bread (or whole wheat, not a big fan of rye), but I openly acknowledge that’s a deviation from a proper patty melt. I will also add bacon on occasion. If they add 1000 that’s ok, but I prefer to dip it in ketchup. Some also like to substitute cheddar or American cheese, both of which are fine, but I prefer Swiss.
Now, as you can see from my dislikes and dislikes, you can certainly deviate according to your personal preferences, but what is outlined above is the starting point of a proper patty melt.
What brings this up is there is a local restaurant… which shall remain nameless… with a patty melt on the menu. Problem is, both grilled onion AND grilled rye bread are an upcharge, each individually. What the deuce kind of cheapness is that? That’s not a patty melt, that’s no more than a hamburger on bread, and if you want a patty melt you have to build one. (Fries/sides are also extra, basically everything ala carte.*)
As a second source you could check out this Definition of a Patty Melt.
*- To be fair, some places cater to an older clientele, and many older people like the option of ordering smaller, only what they want. But one place, another local place (now closed permanently) would charge $9 for am omelette & toast only, same as what other places would charge for an omelette, toast, and hash browns, then make you still pay extra for hash browns.