Cafe Meli Pancake House
There’s really not a whole lot that surprises me when it comes to restaurants in this town anymore. Somehow, I was surprised at breakfast Sunday morning.
J and I are members at Binder Park Zoo and an agreement this month between the Zoo, The Air Zoo, Gilmore Car Museum and Kalamazoo Nature Center gives free admission to any of the attractions if you’re a member at one of them. We’ve never been to the Air Zoo, so we thought we’d give it a try.
The Air Zoo opened at noon on Sunday, so a little after 11, J suggested getting breakfast/lunch then checking out the Air Zoo.
I figured since we were heading down Portage Road, we should check out the restaurant that used to be Callahan’s Family Restaurant.
Last summer, Callahan’s shut down and a major remodel got underway with the new restaurant being opened as a Greek diner called Cafe Meli. Callahan’s had spent a couple decades as a typical greasy spoon and nothing really changed with the decor. That decor sucked up over 20 years of smoke in the caveman days before the smoking ban so a remodel was desperately needed.
We walked in to a fairly packed restaurant about quarter to noon. The hostess was cashing out a few customers and asked us to wait just a second while she took care of the bills. While we were waiting, another woman came up and grabbed the menus set aside for us and showed us to a booth along the wall that separates the dining room from the kitchen.
We started our meals with drinks. J ordered an iced tea while I stuck to Coke. We got L a glass of water just because she likes to be a big girl and “Cheers” us many times during our meal.
The menu at Cafe Meli was very, very surprising. I was just expecting another typical family restaurant, but they had so many different options and so many unique items that I couldn’t even make it to the lunch side of the menu. There were many things on the breakfast side that I wanted to try.
I was all set to order my usual Steak & Eggs which is served with a NY Strip Steak. Lucky for me, I turned to the next page where I found my other usual, the Eggs Benedict. Again, I almost stopped at the Classic Eggs Benedict, but I went down a little further to the Smoked Brisket Benedict. This Benedict uses buttermilk biscuits, house smoked brisket, poached eggs, and a honey chipotle Hollandaise. I have had some pretty stellar Benedicts in this town, but nothing like this. The brisket was so tender and smokey and the Hollandaise had the awesome combination of just a little spicy from the peppers and just a little sweet from the honey. This is a top contender for the best breakfast I’ve had in Kalamazoo. Even the hash browns benefited from the Hollandaise and J reached over and ate about half of the potatoes.
J’s selection was the Symphony Crepes and those are just as good as they sound according to her. The chocolate infused crepes are filled with Nutella, fresh strawberries and bananas then it’s topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. There were three crepes on her plate and she ate two and took one home for breakfast the next day. She, like me, was incredibly surprised at the quality of choices on the menu and loved this selection.
The kids menu was pretty basic, but man, did L get a lot of food. We got her one egg, scrambled, two slices of bacon, hashbrowns and two pancakes. Her meal would have been enough for me. It was huge. L ate quite a bit of it too. She finished off most of the eggs, shared the bacon with Mama and we took a pancake and a half home for the next day.
Our bill was a little over $26 and, seriously, Cafe Meli may have just become our new go-to breakfast place. I am still thinking about my Benedict a day and a half later. I had no idea what we were getting in to when we decided to go out for breakfast and both J and I left talking about how great our meals were. That usually doesn’t happen at family restaurants, but it happened this time.