Sometimes, life is hard for all the right reasons. I've eaten a lot during Restaurant Week, but as much as James and I joked about doubling up meals to boost the number of places we could cover, I didn't imagine I'd actually do it. Then Adam got invited to Dinner Lab for the same night I'd made plans to go to MELT. So, I did what any rational food lover would do and decided to eat two dinners.
I first heard about MELT when it was a food truck. After a hot yoga class at the Yoga Circle, I treated myself to a Mac n Cheese grilled cheese. Whether it was the yoga high or just the sandwich's deliciousness, I've been hooked ever since. When they opened in Avondale, I was stoked. Though I don't eat out often, I end up at MELT pretty often for lunch meetings. Pro tip: for the lactose intolerant folks out there, they have vegan cheese for the burger. Even with the fake cheese, it's tasty.
I'm partial to sitting at the bar because the bartenders are awesome (hi, Stephanie!). After my happy hour cocktail, Janice recommended a basil farmhouse ale for me to try. It was light, but still had a bit of kick from the basil. At the bar, you also get a show from the open kitchen. I don't mean witty banter, I mean a full-fledged show. While we were there, the kitchen serenaded us with ballads about cheese, fries, and cheesy bread.
Their Restaurant Week menu played to their strengths. I started with the tomato basil soup, a creamy mixture with just a touch of spice from the basil and a bit of richness from the olive oil garnish on top. Although I hated canned tomato soup as a kid, I've come to love it as a rainy day food as an adult. This soup was exactly what I was looking for after the solid five minutes of rain we'd had earlier in the day.
To experience MELT's offerings fully -- and to revisit an old favorite -- I ordered the tomato salad and Haley ordered the mac 'n cheese grilled cheese. I would say I was trying to eat more vegetables, but really I just wanted to try the salad before it wasn't available any more. The basil aioli brought together the spicy basil with the depth and creaminess of the aioli. This balanced the acid from the tomatoes while pulling together the flavors of the corn, black beans, and bacon.
Even though I was headed directly from this dinner to the pop up, I still ate about one-third of Haley's grilled cheese. It's creamy, crunchy, salty, and just nice, something we in the South call stick-to-your-arteries good. With fries, it's a meal fit for the coldest of winter days or their hungriest summer counterparts. Though we polished off the tomato salad, there were some fries left after we had both eaten our fill.
It's a lot of food, especially if you get a sandwich. It's well-crafted, indulgent food that lives up to its name. It melts in your mouth and on your plate, and will satisfy even the deepest craving for something cheesy and delicious.