Mela Kitchen at Jack’s Cider House: Now Open
Earlier this summer, I had the distinct pleasure to get a preview of Mela Kitchen at Jack’s Cider House, the latest restaurant to open in Gettysburg, Pa.
As of Friday, Aug. 7, Jack’s Cider House and Mela Kitchen are NOW OPEN.
Tucked conveniently behind The Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg in a former movie theater, Jack’s Cider House is the physical home of three entities: Jack’s Hard Cider, Atomic Dog Wines, and Mela Kitchen. (Atomic Dog is also technically the parent company of all the aforementioned brands.)
Led by Chef Josh Fidler, Mela (Italian for ‘apple’!) Kitchen showcases inspiration from Mediterranean cuisine, focusing on fresh, clean, rustic plates.
The robust menu offers a variety of shareable options, from small plates to pizza, salads and sandwiches, to full plate entrees intended for the whole table.
On a recent sneak peek, I was able to sample the Fried Artichoke, Smoked Trout Toast, and Octopus.
The lightly fried artichoke was tender with a gentle crisp. Its Oh.My.Gosh note is the drizzling of garlic toum (similar to an aioli, but vegan!), which you want to lap from the plate.
Chef’s favorite is the trout toast, served on sourdough and topped with pickled onion and trout roe. Packed with fresh flavors and competing textures, it’s like a savory treat for the tongue.
Good luck sharing this grilled octopus, rested atop white bean hummus and topped with a complimentary bean salad.
The literal centerpiece of the kitchen is a Marra Froni pizza oven, which Chef Fidler and his team dialed in for pizza perfection.
The menu features eight pizza options (gluten-free crust available upon request for $2 extra). “White” style pizzas use the garlic toum in place of a traditional bianco sauce.
The first we tried was this homage to Jack’s: Apple + Bacon with garlic toum, Mela’s three-cheese blend, and apple poppyseed dressing. The salty-crunch of the bacon atop the garlicky sauce layered with sweet apples is a delight — and pairs perfectly with Jack’s Original.
Another pick: Sausage + Pepper (pictured above). Here, a finishing drizzle of hot honey elevates this classic combo.
In the pasta department, your veg-friends will rejoice at this Vegetable Lasagna, which *I swear* is better than any lasagna I’ve ever had. Roasted vegetables — eggplant, mushrooms — are layered with bechemel and marinara sauces. I promise you won’t miss the meat — or the soggy construction — of traditional recipes.
Mela Kitchen’s “Meat” menu features a handful of entrees intended to share. Half-sizes serve 1-2 people; Full portions can feed 3-4 people. Featured items include the Porchetta (pictured), Whole Roast Chicken, Whole Grilled Branzino, and Skirt Steak.
Finish off your meal with a choice from Mela’s Sweets options. I would have a hard time choosing between the Citrus Olive Oil Cake (pictured above), the Cider Doughnuts, and Chocolate Budino.
Drink Well: Cocktails
It may go without saying that Mela Kitchen at Jack’s Cider House features Jack’s Hard Cider products and Atomic Dog wines.
Mela also features an impressive cocktail program using Pennsylvania spirits.
For example, this refreshing Lemon Lavender G&T, made with Hidden Still Gin, Jack’s Rosé Simple Syrup, lavender, lemon, and finished with tonic.
Or, Josh’s Favorite Cocktail in the World, inspired by Chef Fidler’s New York cocktail bar tours. It uses Hidden Still Agave Spirit, Ancho Chili Liqueur, Agave, Orange Bitters, and Lime.
Cider + Wine + Beer
In addition to the cocktail program, Atomic Dog wines, and Jack’s Hard Cider, Mela Kitchen also features craft beer, ciders, and seltzers from fellow Pennsylvania producers.
The draft menu varies by season and availability and can be found on Untappd.
Jack’s Hard Cider
If you follow cider or local products at all, you may already be familiar with Jack’s — it’s the biggest of the local cider brands with distribution throughout the east coast. The original cider (green can) is a solid, dry blend; Helen’s Blend (red can) is for those with sweeter palates. The brand also really shines with its Dry-Hopped Cider and Rosé, in my opinion.
The new location provides a larger production facility for Jack’s products, including an impressive apple press where, yes, they press apples on-site for all of their ciders. Apples come from within a 300-mile radius, because as cider- and wine-maker Joe Cuneo-Tomasi told us, they believe local culinary apples produce the best juice.
Pressed fresh apple moves to equally impressive tanks hugged by glycol collars, and cider-making begins to take shape. A specific wine yeast is the house fave, for now, and the fermentation dance begins, the collars keeping the cider cool like those As Seen on TV(tm) cooling bandanas you bought for your dad last Christmas.
I won’t walk you through the entire cider-making process, but what’s notable is that you’ll be able to view this process on self-guided tours or monthly cidermaker tours. And soon, once an elevator is completed (Covid-pending), you’ll be able to watch the press, the canning line, and more, from atop a mezzanine overlooking the entire production center.
Atomic Dog Wines
Cuneo-Tomasi heads the creation of the Atomic Dog Wines on-site as well, using juice blends the team sourced carefully. The lineup is simple and approachable: dry red, dry white, dry rosé, semi-sweet white, sweet red.
I’ll be reviewing these shortly, so check back, or follow me on Instagram.
How to Order
Enter the dining room and approach the counter at either end for service. Place your order, then choose from seating at the bar, high-tops, community tables, lower four-tops, or even outside. Additional seating eventually will be available in the mezzanine, and in time, rooftop as well.
Once seated, a server will bring your drink and take care of you from there.
The Jack’s team opted to keep one of the building’s former theaters as an event space. In addition to preserving stadium theatre seating and a massive screen, Jack’s team added a bar.
Envision corporate gatherings, family reunions, even weddings hosted with Jack’s Cider House!
Jack’s Cider House: Be Well
Jack’s Cider House, 1863 Gettysburg Village Dr Suite 420, Gettysburg, Pa., is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.