We have tried Mel's@22 several times and come away feeling the service is pretty mediocre or just plain awful, yet the food is usually quite good. Last year, it was overall just plain bad. Friends of ours who live here said please try it again for dinner on a quieter night, so we did. Last night we had no opera, so we dined at 7pm and while they had seemingly lost our reservation, we began to fear. I checked the book and saw it was under the wrong name! Once seated, alas next to the noisy banging kitchen door, we perused the menus, which had multiple veggie options for Sam, and ordered a bottle of Heron Hill Unaoked Chardonnay from the nearby Finger Lakes region which was delish.
Sam started with the Fried Mozzarella half moons with Pomodoro Sauce, which he liked, but was clearly not as good as my superb Tequila Scallops (3 large sea scallops perfected pan seared) with tequila lime-butter sauce or Will's Spinach & Artichoke Rangoons with Sweet Chili dipping sauce. Rangoons are usually just a pile of way too much fried dough with little filling, but these were quite good and full of filling. The Potato skins with cheddar, bacon, sour cream and chives seemed to be missing the chives, although the kitchen thought they could fool us with piles of scallions!
Main courses were all very good save for Sam's Grilled Stuffed Avocados filled with quinoa, black beans, roasted corn and "queso fresco cheese;" can someone tell them queso IS cheese? The stuffing was nice, but I tasted the avocado and it seemed odd, almost off flavor, as if they had tried to grill an unripe avocado! The burgers here are always a hit and Sam's friend had the California Dreamin' with melted brie, smoked bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onion and arugula, while Will went for the Southern Inspired Burger with American cheese, pulled pork, cole slaw, pickled onions and fried egg; almost an overdose! His red wine by the glass was a Terra d'Oro California red Zin. I had the special of Sausage & Kale Ravioli with LittleNeck Clams and Sauteed Shrimp all in a rich Sundried Tomato Pesto Cream sauce. It was superb, way too rich and there were indeed 6 ravioli as described, but they were huge, not to mention the over a 1/2 dozen clams and 1/2 dozen shrimp...a deal for sure. I thought some of the large garlic slices were small clams and while I love garlic, did not need that!
I still have qualms about the service, which was better, but still described best as odd. Our server was surely sweet, but kept calling us "love..." and boy was I glad we didn't ask for a break between courses, because it took about 25 minutes for each course to arrive. Additionally, they have a thing about bringing you clean silverware for each course; one of my pet peeves. We did finally get it after asking.
This weekend at the Glimmerglass Festival, our dinners are all the superb patron picnics, so there won't be lots of reviews, save for our big client/young artists dinner party on Sunday.