June 2007 Issue
Mela Urban Bistro
June's Featured Restaurant
Of course there are restaurants in Springfield. It’s just that there are not many restaurants from Springfield.
“The thing is, there are lots of chain restaurants in town, but fewer mom-and-pops in the last five to 10 years,” says Mickey Edwards, manager of Mela Urban Bistro. “We’re the best in town. It would be nice if we had some competition trying to do what we do.”
If he sounds a bit overconfident, a visit to Mela makes it plain that Edwards has a point: It would be a good restaurant in most towns; in Springfield and the surrounding area, it’s become a regional destination whose reputation is still growing.
Mela is in the Courtyard by Marriott, near the city’s impressive Kuss Auditorium. We caught dinner there before a recent performance, and found a right-on-time waiter who got us to the show without delay.
Chef Jan Grimm serves up an inventive slate of American/Mediterranean cuisine that is full of lively contrasts and surprising combinations.
For starters, consider the wonderful tomato bisque. Folks also rave about the melapasto, an antipasto of marinated olives, artichokes, peppers, salami, pepperoni, cappicola ham, smoked mozzarella, parmigiano and asparagus that costs $9 and feels like a meal in itself.
On a recent trip, we enjoyed the 12-ounce New York strip, nicely done, with delicious tarragon mashed potatoes on the side, and an offbeat-sounding but very satisfying tequila-braised chicken breast on couscous. The menu is seasonal and worth frequent checks — have a look at the Tuscan pork medallions sautéed with rosemary and shallots and served on angel hair pasta, or the ribeye steak served with portobello tomato sauce. You get the idea: Mela likes to mix things up.
Mela’s slogan, which adorns its Web site: “Life is too short to be squandered on ordinary food.”
Hard to argue with that. Stop by and see what they mean.
MELA URBAN BISTRO
100 S. Fountain St., in the Courtyard by Marriott, Springfield, 937/471-9009. www.melaurbanbistro.com
. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner entrees $15–$28. CR 3