Just when you thought that the nostalgia craze was over, Mel's drive-in restaurant opens in Seal Beach - just skipping distance from our doorstep. Mel's occupies the building that housed The Parasol restaurant which closed its doors 15 months ago under pressure to remodel from the folks who bought and renovated Rossmoor Town Center.
I remember The Parasol for several distinct family dining memories, but unfortunately, not for the food. Mel's serves up similar helpings of Americana fare, but adds the much needed element of flavor which was sorely missing from its predecessor.
While The Parasol held close its 1950's design and old-school charm simply due to the fact that the owners never remodeled the interior, Mel's spent significant time and money remodeling the inside to mimic a classic diner from the 1950's. "Excuse me, waitress, I'll take the Irony Burger with a side of humility please.
With such a small sampling as we had tonight it isn't fair to generalize about the quality of the food. I can say that so far, it's better than The Parasol, but, then again, such can be said about the majority of our local eateries and most, if not all, bait shops.
I had the Mel's Burger with fries, while Ema had the Santa Fe salad. Nick had a BLT and the two little ones had kids meals served up in cardboard vintage Chevy's. The burger was tasty, but not outstanding. The salad was dry, and although the chicken was cooked well, moist and tender, the iceberg lettuce bed left us wanting a greener, more flavorful lettuce variety.
Nick's BLT was very standard, but that's what people want when they come to a place like Mel's. People don't want surprises or exotic ingredients like Romaine lettuce. Mel's has taken a bold move to be. . .un-bold. Tradition is not only accepted at Mel's, but expected as well. Mel's does what any good greasy spoon should - it delivers what people expect.
We will eat at Mel's again soon, and I'll write up another quick review of that experience as well. I'm hoping it's a repeat of this one. I don't want or need any surprises.