The Melt at 3027 W. Cary St. opened last week. Curious passersby in Carytown have been wondering for months exactly how this new bright blue and purple storefront will combine food, booze and glass blowing, as advertised by the sign on the door. Finally we have an answer for you.
Contrary to the first thing that seems to pop into everyone's mind, no, you don't get to learn the art of melting, blowing and assembling glass while also throwing back cocktails. You do, however, get to observe as the experts demonstrate their craft ... while throwing back cocktails, if you feel so inclined.
The concept is simple: Have a sandwich and a drink while watching something you may have never seen before.
"We already had a glass store and we started doing a small demonstration in the front of the store and it drew very large crowds," says co-owner Brett Cameron. "So we just decided that we would make it more comfortable for everybody and just put the studio in a restaurant with a bar so they could relax and get a bite to eat."
The space features high-top tables and a retail area up front where the artists sell their creations, with a bar and ample seating in the main area. But the magic happens in back. Enclosed in the back corner is a small studio that local and visiting artists can rent to do their work. Torches, clear and colored glass tubes and tools cover a tall workstation, with kilns, which reach temperatures of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, around the perimeter of the room.
Not only do the artists not mind turning their craft into a spectator sport, Cameron says, but they love the exposure. The studio will be occupied during most operating hours, and Cameron says if you happen to pop in when nobody's wielding torches, chances are they're just taking a break. There are currently five seats available for up-close viewing of the glass creation, and Cameron already is thinking about expanding the studio to allow space for more artists and more spectators.
As for the food, the menu is practical. Tacos and sandwiches with specials like a spicy chicken taco with Belgian endive, honey-crisp apple and mango salsa.
"The inspiration behind the menu was to give somebody something easy to eat and handle while they are watching glass," Cameron says. "Stuff that you don't necessarily have to have knives and forks for."
Brunch is available on the weekends (no bloody marys yet but the mimosas are ready for you), with mainstays like chicken and waffles and eggs Benedict, plus creative takes on classics like carrot cake french toast.
Chef David Baumann, whose résumé includes Goodrich Gourmet Catering, Spoonbread Bistro and the Commonwealth Club, is running the kitchen. He's excited to "make really great food and serve it to the masses, not just people that want to spend $35 a plate and have something super bougie," he says. The kitchen has neither a freezer nor a microwave, which was intentional, he adds.
"We take the extra time to break things down and do everything fresh," Brauman says. "Everything is rotated as it should be, keep everything as fresh as possible, make it delicious, make everyone happy."
The drinks are flowin' and the glass is blowin' every day for lunch and dinner, plus brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.