In celebration of Zelda’s birthday, she decided that she wanted to go to Melange in Haddonfield, NJ tonight, so that is where we went. This was our first trip to Melange, and it has come highly recommended by our friends, and fellow foodies/oenophiles Tom and Denise. Needless to say, they have never let us down on a recommendation, and the same holds true.
We walked in the restaurant and were greeted by Chef and owner Joe Brown. We had a reservation, and arrived about 10 minutes early, but they had no problem seating us whatsoever. We were sat at one of the side tables in the back portion of the restaurant, and they had a great crowd tonight.
Like many of the restaurants we enjoy visiting, Melange is BYOB, so I grabbed a 2006 Kosta Browne Keefer Ranch pinot noir from our Riedel carrying case, and decided to use their stems tonight. Kosta Browne has always been one of our favorites, so I figured we’d drink something tonight that Zelda would really enjoy, whether it would go with the Cajun cuisine or not. Needless to say, it stood up OK to the food and spice, so feel free to read the 90 point review below.
Lisa, I think, was our server tonight, and she came over and opened our wine for us and told us about their specials. There were definitely some specials that sounded delicious, but I think our minds had already been made up after looking at the menu online earlier in the week. For starters, Zelda ordered the Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp with Cheese Biscuits, and it was gorgeous. The shrimp were cooked to perfection, and the light tomato colored broth had some great spice to it. The flavors all melded together very nicely, and this is just one of those dishes you could eat for dinner. The cheese biscuits were good and dense, and were a very nice addition to the soup. I could eat these biscuits all day long, but who couldn’t.
I on the other hand went for the surf and turf appetizer, consisting of 3 very nice pan seared scallops, topped in slow roasted short rib, and drizzled with a barbequed butter. There was also a side of saffron truffle risotto. The scallops again were cooked very nicely with a great caramelized sear on them. These were delicious, with some great sweetness to them, and the texture was just so nice. The short rib was tender and very sweet, and couldn’t have been more enjoyable. The sweet BBQ sauce was again a great touch, and these were just gorgeous. As much of a waste as it would be, I would love to get a heaping helping of these, put them on a bun, and eat them like a BBQ sandwich. The risotto was very nice as well, and the flavor of the pungent truffle was nice.
In the meantime, Chef Brown had stopped by our table to see how everything was, and as we told him, everything was great thus far. He seemed to make his way around the restaurant, visiting every table, and checking on his clients. This is always a nice touch, and it is good to see a chef who cares. He would then disappear back into the kitchen for a few minutes at a time to make sure his chefs were cooking to his standards. I also asked him if he had his cookbook there for sale, but unfortunately, he hasn’t done another run of these. So if anyone knows a publisher looking to print a great cookbook, have them get a hold of Chef Brown! I would love to pick up a copy of this, and am going to have to look for it online.
For entrees tonight, I was shocked to see Zelda order the Chicken, Red Beans and Rice instead of the Shrimp and Cheese Grits after she had been talking about them all week. Regardless, she enjoyed it. This had slow simmered Andouille sausage, peaches, brown sugar, Chef Joe’s Cajun seasoning, served with biscuits and sour cream. I had a few bites of this, and really enjoyed the flavors of the Andouille. The sausage had some very nice spice to it, and paired nicely with the beans and rice. One of the comments that Zelda made was the fact that she would have preferred the peaches on the top, giving them more flavor, and making them a more substantial element of the dish. But even so, she enjoyed it, and mentioned that she could even do without the chicken as the beans and rice were a dish in itself. She didn’t however eat the sausage, as she is not a beef or pork eater, but she would didn’t want to order it without the sausage as this is what gives the dish some of its flavor.
I too went against my original plan which was to order the short ribs, but having them in my appetizer, I instead opted for the rack of lamb, which was roasted with a crusted herb crumb mustard, a Dijon reduction, and fresh vegetables and potatoes. I do have to say that no rack of lamb ever lives up to Chef Matt’s rack of lamb at Oliver-A Bistro in Bordentown, but I did like the mustard elements of this dish. The lamb was cooked nicely, but I wasn’t able to tell if this was New Zealand rack of lamb, or where it was from. Did it blow my mind? No, not at all, but it was still tasty, and I cannot eat enough lamb. The potatoes were very nice, and the vegetable medley paired nicely as well. Regardless, I focused on the lamb, and left the potatoes and veg to save room for dessert.
For dessert tonight, Zelda ordered the pecan pie, and it did not disappoint in the least. The flavors of this pecan pie were awesome, with small, chopped pecans. This came out piping hot, and was not overly sweet. I on the other hand could not pass up the bread pudding, which was absolutely massive! So massive in fact, that I had to bring half of it home. The bread pudding was sliced thick, and was very dense, served with a good vanilla caramel sauce on the side. The furthest thing I was was disappointed or hungry! I was absolutely stuffed, and couldn’t eat another bite.
So after a great evening, we finished our wine, and just had a great evening. From the service to the cuisine, everything was excellent. I love the fact that Chef Brown was all about being out in the dining room, and making sure his customers were happy. This is always a nice touch, and it shows that he really cares about his customers. What a great evening, and a great way to celebrate Zelda’s birthday. Cheers!
18 Tanner Street
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
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