There are several of these Mel's Diner restaurants in Florida, and while in Ft. Myers I finally decided to check one out. I didn't have high hopes for it, but it was walking distance from my hotel and, well, you know.
Though I love their mid-century-modern décor, I was put off initially by the fact that there was a line to get in, and that most of the patrons were elderly. This old man is still young enough to want to flee from anyplace that serves meals catered to old people's palates. I was also discouraged by the name, which may or may not be intended as a direct reference to one of the worst television shows ever to air on prime time, Alice.
I thought I read once, or maybe I dreamed it, that Vic Tayback long ago started a chain of his own "Mel's Diner" restaurants that never took off. I don't believe these Florida specimens to be related, though if I'm wrong, someone will no doubt pop up like a gallery duck to tell me.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food here is great, and also cheap. Almost too cheap - I don't know how they do it. I had the Surf-n-Turf combo of lobster tail and Filet Mignon, a couple of martinis (only three bucks!) and a crème brulee for dessert.
My only real complaint would be about the crème brulee. It comes in a small swankyswig-sized glass, rather than a large shallow ramekin. This rather defeats the entire point of crème brulee, since there is only a tiny amount of it that gets seared by the torch in this presentation. So basically it's like eating a glass of flan.
But the steak and lobster and vodka were superb, and for the price the place can't be beat. No, really, I mean it literally can't be beat - when was the last time you had a martini that was worth a damn for three bucks and it wasn't even a Happy Hour special? It's so great, I'm even willing to forgive them for the egregiously wrong apostrophes that pepper their menu.