A small down diner for a small-town crowd, Mel-O-Dee Restaurant is a little ways off of the Interstate 70/Interstate 675 interchange in New Carlisle, a distant north suburb of Dayton. The little establishment has all the makings of an old-fashioned little guy: from handwritten menu specials to a big honking neon sign advertising colorful welcomes to all the groups that come through the town. In a town like Dayton, you find countless chains and manufactured food with an air of impersonal coldness about them. But just up the road, places like this are hiding, waiting to be discovered.
The food here is good. It’s got a primarily diner-style menu of fried chicken and burgers with plenty of sides. The menu sort of takes from a few genres and creates a uniquely Midwestern identity to this place.
- Burger: The burger is good, though seemingly in the spirit of the modern hyper-local eatery, it uses uniform, frozen patties. I’d like to see more local ingredients even if they drive prices up. It would make the place a cut above the chains.
- Fries: The fries are good, but they’re also frozen and imported from places unknown.The cobbler is made with canned cherries.
- Broasted Fried chicken: A fan favorite here, the chicken is crispy with a buttermilk-like batter that absolutely blows away.
- French toast: Heavy on the cinnamon and extra sweet, this french toast is good for breakfast. All you need is a little syrup.
- Western Omelette: Three eggs stuffed warmly with ham, peppers, cheese and tomato. A simple breakfast delight. Filling but not overwhelming.
I’ll be honest: all of it tasted good. I enjoyed everything. But the frozen burgers, the frozen french fries and canned cherries just aren’t attractive to me. I feel like I could duplicate them at home. Yes one can contend that taste trumps all, but I don’t want to go to a small place like this and get the same sort of thing I would pick up at any other burger chain. It’s very conflicting.
The service was good, too. It’s a very friendly type of place where servers and hosts are happy to make conversation, and where regulars like to gather and talk about what’s going on around town. I’m pleased to say it’s the type of place that is inviting enough to want to return to. It’s definitely a family-friendly establishment and it’s regularly flooded with locals.
Mel-O-Dee is a pleasant little restaurant lost in time off the beaten path. It has all the markings of a community pillar, and should be cherished as one. As picky as I am about the food I tried there, I definitely have no problems returning again. The place is just so quaint it’s hard not to like it. I would certainly suggest it’s worth a little detour from the highway to give Mel-O-Dee a chance to brighten your day.
- Try the fried chicken, it definitely seems to be this restaurant’s specialty.
- Burgers and fries are good, but they’re also the same freeze-dried ingredients you’ll find at plenty of other, average places.
- The side dishes are very tasty here.