The Roasted Shallot
There are food trucks that call themselves gourmet because they offer different cheeses or toppings on standard street faire like tacos or hot dogs and a few of them succeed in setting themselves apart. And then there are food trucks that offer truly unique, quality, locally sourced restaurant quality cuisine that, as Guy Fieri would say, are the ‘real deal.’ I don’t think Guy has found The Roasted Shallot yet (his loss) but when he does, you can bet somewhere in the visit he’ll talk about the food and say, “This is the real deal!”
I got to spend some time with Nathan Carel and Brooke Francis on a hot Phoenix summer day and, after a mouth-watering, palate satisfying meal, got a little bit of the story. Just two short months after opening the truck in October 2013, the truck caught fire and was totally destroyed. Some people might have been discouraged by losing the chance to start up during the cooler winter months but Nathan and Brooke saw it as a second chance. Nobody gets it 100% right the first time out and they were able to learn from the brief operating period and make changes when the new truck was built. Even the truck spoke to them. You see, the new truck started its life with a Fire Suppression company and the decals had a sprinkler system just about where the old truck caught fire!
It’s not enough to have a good design and a nice looking truck. It’s not even enough to have a good story. The key to success in a food truck is the food. First impressions are that The Roasted Shallot has nothing to worry about. The biggest problem I had with the menu was deciding what to try. The day I was there the menu included Braised Pork Street Tacos and Vegetarian Tacos, 3 sandwiches, 2 salads plus Southwest Popcorn, a Nathan creation.
The salad choices are opposites on the pendulum but both are exceptional. The Get Yo Greens Salad is fresh, cool and light but bursting with flavors and textures; perfect on a hot summer day. You can get a small size that’s complimentary to the sandwiches or a large one might be all you need for a light meal.
The Garden Slaw, on the other hand is cool and spicy hot at the same time thanks to the hatch chiles and tangy Siricha sauce. I’m thinking The Garden Slaw is the perfect companion to the tacos (and maybe even on the tacos if you can find any room to add it!) but it went down just fine with the B.L.A.T.
Speaking of Brookelynn’s B.L.A.T., this is a must-try for any BLT sandwich lover. The toasted sourdough bread brackets a unique blend of avocado, shredded greens, tomato, pickled onions and a roasted shallot aioli all in supporting roles to the apple wood smoked bacon on one side and Nathan’s own bacon jam providing the bacon punch on the opposite side. You gotta try this one!
On my visit, there was a choice of two specialty grilled cheese sandwiches, the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese and the Schreiner’s Ballpark Grilled Cheese. Since I’d been pretty ‘grown-up’ with my other choices, I went for the Schreiner’s Ballpark Grilled Cheese. This was an ooey, gooey hot mess in the most positive meaning of the phrase! Everybody knows how good Schreiner’s all beef hot dogs are but who puts ketchup, mustard and truck made pickles on a grilled cheese? The Roasted Shallot does and the combination is mouthwatering, especially since the toasted sourdough stays crispy.
The menu changes depending on what is available locally so be sure to check the menu before going out if you’re looking to have that item you loved on your last visit. An advocate and supporter of the ‘buy locally’ philosophy, Nathan says The Roasted Shallot always looks for local ingredients first and usually has up to 90% of everything he serves made up with local products and produce. That ‘buy local’ commitment means the menu sometimes has to change depending on what is available.
The Roasted Shallot does a great job of posting the menu weekly. You can find the Menu on their website along with their locations. You can find them on Facebook or Twitter and at many Phoenix Food Truck Coalition events. Just be warned, after eating at The Roasted Shallot you may want to invite them to your place for lunch or dinner. Oh yeah, they cater and you can have them all to yourself!