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Feast Sanibel: Sweet Melissa’s Cafe

March 30, 2012

The vast majority of eateries on Sanibel Island have the same primary objective – to gouge you for all you’re worth. Mercifully, Sweet Melissa’s hasn’t gotten the memo.

We’ve been to Mel’s twice in the last two years, and the food has been good, though not great. Three quarters of the menu is small plates, with 5 entrees (which can also be served as half portions) offered as well. In the past the menu has seemed scattered, and putting together a coherent meal from the small plates hinted at heartburn. Tonight, we went again and were greeted with not only a more streamlined, sensical menu, but leisurely service and surprisingly low prices.

The grilled romaine salad was great, as was the goat cheese crepe and ravioli with lamb ragu. The corn soup was fantastic, pureed without cream. The half portions of the short ribs and steak were expertly prepared (and could have been full portions), and the prosciutto wrapped asparagus was one diner’s favorite plate of the night. My favorite, however, was the yellowtail sashimi, and not just because an extremely generous portion was only $12. The fish was high quality, served with avocado puree and jalapeño pepper slices.

We did not try dessert, and the reason is my only complaint (if you can call it that) about Sweet Mel’s: the prices are too low. This is only a problem because it leads you to think that the portions will also be small. They are not. Diners beware, if you are very hungry, order two plates per person, but three is overkill. I can only imagine that the full portions of the entrees are actually enormous, but leftover Tamarind Braised Short Ribs never hurt anybody.

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