Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Night Out: Melthouse Bistro

You may or may not know that April is National Grilled Cheese Month and Wisconsin Cheese is even having a grilled cheese creation contest. So I decided to wait until now to post about an event I had the opportunity to attend last month. As a food blogger in the Milwaukee area, I was given an invite to attend Melthouse Bistro's Grilled Cheese Reception with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

Melthouse Bistro actually closed down for the night and its a good thing -- we were a large, semi-loud group. This was my first time to Melthouse and upon walking in, I liked the industrial/farm feel of the location. Here is a bit of background I gathered. It is a locally-owned establishment off of North Ave. by Beans and Barley. The sandwich selections are constantly changing and they use many local ingredients. They have a "barn to bistro" mantra and I actually heard that the north wall is actually wood from a real barn - right side of picture.

Although the restaurant wasn't set up like it usually would be, it looks like you would order at the counter as there is a menu on the wall above the service window. Then sit down in a booth or table and wait for your delicious cheesy, gooey sandwich to come.

For our group, there was a long table of Wisconsin cheeses to try with crackers and grapes as palette cleansers. Servers were walking around the crowd with bites of their grilled cheese sandwiches. The servers explained what was in each bite so you knew just what you were getting. Although I didn't snap a picture of the mounds of cheese, I snapped a shot of my cheese menu for you.

We decided to go for cheese first and grab a beverage to pair with it. They were serving complimentary glasses of wine and beer (mostly all Wisconsin brews, if not all Wisconsin brews). I chose to get a Savignon Blanc as I wanted something cool and refreshing. Ellie chose a Pinot Noir and Tiffany went for a Riverwest Stein, if I remember correctly. It was all free and served to us and they didn't even accept tips. And they were working hard behind the counter serving drinks.

We then snatched up cheeses that we wanted to try and found a table to stand at to try them all. Of course by the time we made it to the table, I had forgotten the order of the cheeses I put on my plate, but between Ellie, Tiffany and myself we figured most out. I was a huge fan of the Red Rock by Roelli Cheese. This is an orange cheddar with a "blue vein" in the middle. The blue cheese in the middle gave the cheddar a nice little bite that I really enjoyed. Another favorite of myself and Ellie was the Aged Brick Spread from Widmer's Cheese Cellars. The cheese was a creamy blend of Aged Brick and Cheddar Cheese that just melted in my mouth. If I was alone with a plate of that cheese, it would be gone and the belly ache would be so worth it! Some other cheeses that I will definitely look for in the future are Creama Kasa by Carr Valley Cheese and Quark by Clock Shadow Creamery.

Ok - onto the grilled cheese (menu below). This is not your typical grilled cheese by any means. These sandwiches are stuffed to the max with wonderful ingredients. The owner gave a small speech about the concept of the restaurant to us and that he tries to keep his ingredients as local as he can. I really appreciate that in a restaurant and will probably choose going there than another restaurant that outsources everything.

I tried the Heartland (picture below) which is comprised of aged cheddar, baby swiss, caramelized onions and tomatoes on multi-grain bread. This was very good and the onions were great so flavorful. The great caramelization made the sandwich. Ellie and I agreed. Tiffany and Ellie tried the Biloxi and I didn't get to try it, but its sounds delicious: Wisconsin fontina, pulled BBQ pork, pickles and coleslaw. Very down home comfort food.

I got to try their newest sandwich, the Maliblue and what a sandwich! Think Club sandwich meets Cobb Salad smashed together. I definitely would order this again if I came back. It's comprised of Wisconsin blue cheese, turkey, bacon, avocado (yum), tomatoes, romaine, egg crumbles and garlic mayo and put it between two slices of toasted French bread. Heaven in my mouth! This was seriously the most scrumptious sandwich I have had in a long time. But it is a bit messy, so be prepared to sit down and enjoy -- not something to eat on the go. But why rush this sandwich, it needs your full attention.

They did offer dessert cheesecake bites, but I opted not to have any as I was pretty full from my sandwich bites. I heard that the cheesecakes were extra creamy and decadent.

As guests of this event, they gave us each an apron from the Grilled Cheese Academy. How awesome and generous as it was a lot of aprons to give out.


I will definitely return to Melthouse Bistro and my friend Ellie actually went there the next day for lunch with her hubby and she loved it.

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