For years, I’ve been complaining to anyone who will listen: Why doesn’t Fort Worth have a truly great ice-cream shop? Yes, there are Marble Slab Creamery and Cold Stone Creamery – but those are both part of larger chains, and the flavors tend to be a little predictable. And, yes, you can find gelato at the chain Paciugo, or frozen custard at the outdoor stand Curly's on Camp Bowie Blvd. -- but, technically speaking, neither is true ice-cream.
Meanwhile, for years we’ve gone without an ice-cream shop like the ones I remember from my vacation visits to the Jersey Shore and Cape Cod when I was a kid -- places where the ice-cream is made in-house, and the flavors range from the conventional to the wildly idiosyncratic. I mean, it’s certainly hot enough here most of the year that you think such a place would do gangbusters business, right?
The ice-cream gods finally heard my prayers. Earlier this month, Melt Ice Creams – the brainchild of Georgia native Kari Crowe Sehler – opened in a small, brightly painted storefront on Rosedale Avenue in the Near Southside district of Fort Worth. Considering how good my first tastes were there, I have a feeling Melt is going to quickly become a word-of-mouth sensation.
Sehler, who told me she only first began seriously making ice-cream last year, creates her ice-creams using as many local ingredients as possible. On a recent visit, for instance, the flavors on offer included coffee made with beans from nearby Avoca Coffee House, and a “Chocolate Chocolate” ice-cream made with chocolate from Dude, Sweet Chocolate.
Emphasizing quality over quantity, there are only a handful of flavors on offer at any given time (six on the afternoon I visited) – but I don’t think anyone will have a difficult time finding something to suit his or her tastes. I sampled the “Sweet Bees,” made with Texas-sourced lavender and honey. The floral notes of the lavender – which can sometimes be too strong in desserts – were perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the honey.
But I was in the mood for something slightly more conventional, so I ultimately decided on a medium-sized cup with one scoop each of “Cup of Texas” (the afore-mentioned coffee flavor) and “Berry Basil” (made with basil and local strawberry jam). For coffee ice-cream obsessives like me, “Cup of Texas” is terrific -- the coffee flavor only gently sneaks up on you. For those (also like me) who can't resist desserts infused with fresh herbs, the “Berry Basil” is plainly a masterpiece: the first bite of strawberry sweetness is followed by a lingering, but subtle hint of the basil.
Melt has a handful of tables, where you can take a much-needed break from the soon-to-be-overwhelming Texas heat. Alternately, if you prefer to wait until after dinner for dessert, all the flavors are also sold in pint containers – so you can pick one up on the way home from work, and pop it into your freezer until you're ready to dig in. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the next traffic light without digging in -- but maybe you'll have better luck restraining yourself.