Sweet, succulent, and perfect for dishes and drinks: that is how you can describe the humble melon, an ingredient nostalgically linked to warm weather and blue skies.
Melon is used in a variety of dishes as a garnish, the main star, or a colorful relish atop the main protein. Chefs around Metro Detroit tend to favor honeydew or watermelon, but you can find a few brave souls who opt for bitter melon, offering something new to discover in every bite.
Usually, the dishes are seasonal, but some bartenders and bakers add melon in ways that work year-round. Drinks – especially iced teas and cocktails – often benefit from this flavorful addition.
Melons also lend themselves perfectly to salads, so keep an eye out as summer approaches. Local chefs know they can rely on community gardens, Eastern Market, and other growers to bring them the best of their harvests, and melons soon will be ready for picking throughout the region.
Here are five ways to experience melon around Metro Detroit.
This innovative restaurant also has some of the most delightful and creative drinks on its beverage menu. You can try its Lift Off, which contains no alcohol, for a refreshing option. Its ingredients (along with melon) include orange, cucumber, ginger, cream, and lemon. So much freshness in one glass.
This tea room’s fruit teas offer a taste of summer all year long, but they are especially refreshing when the weather finally gets warm. Socra Tea offers honeydew melon cubes, watermelon flakes, apple pieces, carrot flakes, and freeze-dried strawberry slices.
You will have nothing but good luck and good times at this joint, even with that infamous name. Try its Star Elixir, which blends chemistry, excitement, and transformation. Its menu includes a hibiscus-infused vodka, watermelon shrub, lemon, raw honey, bitters, and soda. It is served with a house-made melon and mint-popping sugar.
There are some very unnatural but delicious flavors on the sizable Detroit Water Ice menu, like cotton candy. But if you want something refreshing, you can try one of its favorites, the Woodward Watermelon. It’s cool, refreshing, and tastes like summer in a cup.
Now, you might want to prepare yourself for the taste of bitter melon–it is every bit as bitter as the name implies. But it adds a burst of flavor to any dish if the chef knows how to use it. And that is true at Chao Zhou, a Madison Heights restaurant that makes a great dish with bitter melon that also includes beef and a host of other fresh ingredients.