Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Melt

Pocket Pooj ponders a pickup peddler.
(The Melt - South Coast Plaza, May 2016)

The Melt is part of a relatively recent trend of food trucks setting down brick-and-mortar roots.  More accurately, The Melt started as a Bay Area brick-and-mortar fast-casual grilled cheese joint, which then expanded into a fleet of food trucks (converted from retired school buses), some of which then shuttled down to Southern California, where they then [retired for good (the Southern California ones, at least), and] once again became brick-and-mortar grilled-cheese (and burger, and soup) joints (source). Confused yet? Good.  

All that, of course, is beside the point. Though I'm generally not hip enough to know the latest news in the food truck world, I at least try to Facebook-stalk the root beer world (you can see, doing his own stalking in the background of the above photo, the reason why even the latter has been lacking as of late).  Which, long story short, is why I happen to know that The Melt's menu is developed in part by chef Michael Mina, whose restaurants have been rumored to serve a house-made root beer (which I have been unable to verify; see the aforementioned "not hip enough").

I don't actually know if the sodas they serve at The Melt are the same Michael Mina recipes, but they do advertise them as "all natural." I also don't know with absolute certainty that the sodas are house-made, since the four available flavors -- cola, lemon-lime, black cherry, and root beer -- could be from any number of soda makers.  All four are actually pretty good, but my completely biased opinion is that the root beer is the strongest.

From the tap (and it's actually a tap, not just a soda fountain) there's a respectable head, but it's gone before I make it back to my table.  Bubbles are pretty big, which may account for the speed at which the head disappears, though the carbonation is only mildly sharp.  It tastes a little watered down, but I'm not sure if that's by design or just an unbalanced mix from the tap. The sweetness is balanced though; not too sweet, and if not watered down might actually be a bit on the bitter side -- there's a little medicinal aftertaste that goes up the sinus, as well as a little licorice.

Not bad; the flavors are all there, just a bit too watered down for my liking. I'd still drink it again if I happen to be eating at The Melt -- in fact, the food and beverage is good enough that I dare say that I would prefer eating at The Melt over other comparably-gimmicky mall restaurants, assuming there's one available.  But I still probably wouldn't make a special trip to eat here just for the root beer.  That's a high 3.