a couple's adventures in eating
Restaurant: Mel’s Family Diner
Location: 3221 S Orlando Dr, Sanford FL 32773
WHAT HE ATE:
The Food: Country Fried Steak (includes mashed potatoes/ gravy, cup of chili, beets, and a roll)
The Price: $7.29
The Critique: Mel’s Diner? Really? Indeed. Although Flo didn’t tell me to “kiss her grits,” this is a diner through and through. The term greasy spoon was invented for places like this. Daily specials, stick-to-your-ribs food, and the lippy cook in the kitchen complete the overall feel.
Now to the part that you care about: the food. Per the recommendation of our server, I started with the chili. It was good. Yes I just used the descriptors that a child would, but it’s the perfect description. It had the balanced flavors that you expect in a chili. No surprises here. It was also suggested that we try the cornbread that was on special (also the tip left on Foursquare). No doubt a box mix, and to be honest it was very regular. However, it was a great deal for a big portion. Here’s the comedy. When we first sat down, the cornbread was listed on the dry erase specials board for $0.89. By the time that we finished, like magic, it had been changed to $0.99. Either way, it’s a good deal.
As you can see, I had the country fried steak dinner. The food is incredibly hearty, but the portion sizes tend to be a little smaller than I’m used to at a diner. I wanted the CFS to be hanging off of the plate like others I have eaten, but instead, the gravy enveloped the steak with room to spare on all sides. The food was good, but I wasn’t completely in love with it. It was good, flavorful, and drowned in brown gravy, which was very tasty, but it was very simply diner food.
The Verdict: Like my beautiful bride-to-be, I am also at eye-level with this food. It is good, but not excellent.
WHAT SHE ATE:
The Food: Rich’s Famous Meatloaf (with mashed potatoes/ gravy, side salad, peas and carrots, and a roll)
The Price: $7.39 plus tax
The Critique: It’s exactly what a diner should be. The walls are covered in signs with sweet little clichés (likely purchased from a local craft show).The specials are primly displayed on an old dry erase board. The tables wobble with a certain kind of charm. The booths are populated with locals who aren’t afraid to holler out to their servers across the room with inside jokes and order needs.
Our server looked mildly threatening (her teeth screamed with a yellowy crookedness and I’m pretty sure she drives a motorcycle), but she was as sweet as pie using the predictable “sweetheart” and “honey” to address us every time.
The food was delicious but typical. The show opened with a small side salad consisting of your usual mix from a bag but covered in a beautiful housemade Ranch (for which I’m a total sucker; the runnier, the better). I’m not sure who Rich is but his meatloaf made my life. Slathered in brown gravy and piled alongside its partner in crime, mashed potatoes, I was in heaven. Too bad eating the (canned) peas/carrots and roll on the side resembled spooning down flavorless pebbles and cardboard. But, I was too distracted by the main attraction to care too much.
The Verdict: Overall, good food. Good service. Good price. I’m lookin’ at this joint eye level.