Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mel’s drive-in

Breakfast on Geary, 1oth Part

Continuing my ever westward journey along Geary Boulevard/Street, I had breakfast at Mel's drive-in again (see last 'blog-entry from May 29th, 2010). This was Mel's drive-in, honey[1], not Mel's Diner, so I wasn't expecting Alice or Flo to be waiting on me; besides, Alice doesn't live here any more, Martin.

Mel's drive-in is a mini-chain of restaurants/nostalgia-styled diners in California; four in Northern California and four in Southern California (Sorry, Mr. Lucas, there isn't one in Modesto any more; it's probably a d*mn St*rbucks by now, anyway). The original Mel's restaurant opened in San Francisco in 1947 on Lombard Street (Yeah, yeah, yeah... "The crookedest street in America… west of Pennsylvania Avenue."), but had closed by 1972. The current chain was re-established in 1985 by one of Mel's sons.

I really like the fact that they are open 24 hours on the weekend. Plus they have their own private parking lots (the location on Geary Boulevard is a lot larger and easier to access than the new location on Lombard), which is always a very good thing in the crowded city.

Mel's offers a good selection of items on their breakfast menu (which I think are available at all hours of operation). They also have a weekend "Brunch" specials menu that has several non-diner-esque choices. I ordered Tortilla[2] Scramble ~ strips of fried corn tortillas, green chilies[3] scrambled with eggs and Monterey Jack cheese, served with grilled potatoes (SPICY). I also forewent ("forewent"? Who says "forewent" now-a-days?) my usual cuppa coffee and had a glass of
Vanilla Coca-Cola® (made with real artificial vanilla-flavoured syrup, of course).

Now this is not your typical diner fare, but this is California, after all. This was basically a version of chilaquiles (this ain't as good as Chava's or SanJalisco®, but it ain't bad for a diner, drive-in, or even a dive, Guy); slices of corn tortillas fried and then added to a mess o' scrambled eggs and other stuff. It really was not that "SPICY", but there were a lot of green chillies (Ortega or Anaheim, probably) in it. It also had a good amount of onions and tomatoes in it, which weren't stated on the menu, but really add to the dish.

The Vanilla Coke® was good, too, and had the ubiquitous maraschino[4] cherry floating on top. I am not quite sure what ingredients are used to preserve these cherries (an old friend of mine always used to call them "formaldehyde cherries"), but there is an apocryphal story about Napoleon (Monsieur Bonaparte, not Dynamite) and these cherries. Apparently he was a big fan of these little delicacies and ate them all the time. The story goes that years after he had been dead, they performed an autopsy on him and found some undigested maraschino cherries in his stomach. I don't know how true any of that is, but there is a variety of cherry named "Napoleon".

Mel's drive-in just has Tabasco® for its condimentary supplementation. It really didn't matter, as once again I had come well prepared and used a little Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce (Thanks agains, Amys!) on the scramble and a little Big Papi En Fuego Hot Sauce ~ Original Mild on the potatoes (the condimentary mojo really didn't seem to help out the Boston Red Sox much last weekend, but I blame that on their crummy Bullpen, not my choice of hot sauce).

The only thing missing from the whole experience was seeing a white '56 T-bird slowly driving by, piloted by a beautiful blonde mouthing "I love you!" to me (of course, if she were the original owner, I really don't think I'd be wasting an entire night chasing after her, Mr. Dreyfuss).

Next up on Geary Boulevard: Lou's Cafe (re-chicken)

Glen Bacon Scale RatingTortilla Scramble ~ 6.6; Vanilla Coke® ~ 6.5

[1] Stupid, useless cunning linguist and pseudo-epicurean pointer of the day, number one:
Variations of the word "Mel/Meli" are the words in many foreign languages for "honey", dear.
Catalan: mel
Esperanto: mielo
French: miel
Galician: mel

Greek: μέλι
Haitian Creole: siwo myèl
Irish: mil
Italiano: miele
Latin: melle
Portuguese: mel
Spanish: miel
Welsh: mêl

[2] Stupid, useless cunning linguist and pseudo-epicurean pointer of the day, número dos:

Simply enough, "tortilla" means "little torta" or "little cake" in Spanish.

[3] Stupid, useless cunning linguist and pseudo-epicurean pointer of the day, número tres:

They had this spelled as "chilies" on the menu; however, there are several accepted spellings of these picante peppers, Peter. It can be spelled as either "chili/chilies", "chilli/chillies", or "chile/chiles". The word comes from Spanish "chile", which comes from Nahuatl "chilli".

[4] Stupid, useless cunning linguist and pseudo-epicurean pointer of the day, numero quattro:

The word "Maraschino" comes from Italian and refers to the marasca cherry of Croatian origin and the maraschino liqueur made from it.

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