Melange Mixes It Up
The "subterranean bistro" has high aspirations.
by Catherine Zudak
From the December, 2017 issue
Melange, a subterranean bar and restaurant on Main St., has been many things to many different people: a popular happy hour spot, with an impressive array of cocktails and knowledgeable bartenders; a go-to for sushi lovers; a late-night dance club. But in its second revamping in five years, most of the sushi is gone, along with what Scott Burk calls tired old three-course meals. "We wanted something more creative," Jay Mullick says.
Burk and Mullick, who bought the place in 2012, started the latest makeover in October with a new menu. After football season--the busiest stretch of the year--Melange will close again sometime in January for renovations.
The owners called on their friend Eve Aronoff Fernandez, of the restaurants Eve and Frita Batidos, to partner on the new concept and menu. "We wanted her to start with a blank slate," Burk says, and she has her fingerprints on every aspect of the reimagined Melange. "Gone are the freezer and the microwave," Burk says. "She even changed our suppliers."
Aronoff Fernandez spent hundreds of hours in the last few months testing recipes, inspired by food traditions in her family, as well as Burk's and Mullick's.
"We have a version of my mom's baked rice that she made for every family event," she says. Mullick's mom contributed her naan recipe, and Aronoff Fernandez tried many variations until she reached the perfect balance of flavors. Naan with curry butter is now the house bread. Each piece is baked fresh on a cast iron skillet.
Burk's grandfather, an old-school butcher from the Chesapeake Bay area, might recognize Aronoff Fernandez's simple steak and fish. They'll prepare them any way you like it, but Aronoff Fernandez recommends searing them first with a melange of chilies and lime to complement the salsa verde and tropical chutney that accompany the dish.
While a few regulars are missing their sushi dinners, they can still get a chef's selection as an entree. And the overall response to the new menu has been positive.
"I want to make this my favorite restaurant," Burk says--and other people's, too. The ultimate goal, he says, is to make Melange the premier fine dining place in town.
Melange, 312 S. Main St. 222-0202. Mon.-Thurs. 4 p.m.-11 p.m. (dinner 5-10 p.m.), Fri. & Sat. 4 p.m.-2 a.m. (dinner 5-11 p.m.), closed Sun. melangebistro.com.
[Originally published in December, 2017.]
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