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Feb 29, 2008 05:05 AM

Meli - Baltimore

Has anyone been to the new Meli (owned by Kali's) in Fells Point? I'm thinking about making a reso for this weekend with friends coming in from out of town but haven't seen a menu anywhere and wandering what they offer as well as price point.
If anyone has been or has seen a menu, I'd love to hear about it.

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  1. I haven't been either, but the Sun ran an article a couple of days ago. OpenTable says it's contemporary French, but the name is Greek. Sounds a bit confused to me. I like the other two places in the group. Let us know what you think if you make it.


    5 Replies
    1. re: JonParker

      Yep, that's why I was confused. I'm trying to toss up between new and old fave's (Marticks), no doubt it'll come down to the 'big two': price point and available reso's! I'll report back.

      1. re: aussiewonder

        Well the price point at Meli looks pretty good. According to that article "nothing is over $20." And according to OpenTable, they've got open slots at 7 and 8:30 on Saturday.

        Of course, Marticks is Marticks.

        1. re: JonParker

          Every time i've been to Marticks it's been on someone else's dime. Thus, I have no idea how their menu is priced and their 'website' isn't linking to active pages. Any idea of the price point? Thanks heaps.

          1. re: aussiewonder

            It's been a while, but I seem to remember entrees being around $25. I have a brain like a sieve though, so don't take my word for it.

            1. re: JonParker

              I was just there in December, but I have a brain like a coarse colander and don't remember the prices either.

    2. As promised, here's my report from dinner Saturday night @ Meli. Five of us in the party, with a reso @ 8:30pm. Given that the sidewalk outside is being torn up, we entered through the patisserie and walked through the bar area in search of the hostess stand which was off to the side in the main dining room.

      The Space: Not sure what used to be here, I think the silver store and the optician's? The space is divided into a patisserie, bar area, dining room and lounge downstairs. The bar area is bright and cheery but the dining room seemed very dark in contrast: a result of the dark color scheme, few windows, dim lighting/candles, cramped and oddly configured tables, and horrible, awful, drop ceilings! I never got passed these. I felt incredibly claustrophobic (not a common occurrence for me). And what was with the painted cloud mural on the ceiling??? Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable restaurant spaces I've dined in which greatly impacted upon the enjoyment of my evening.

      Food: As 'Honey' is the theme expect to see this flavour in much of the presentation or prep. Menu is quite small: raw oysters, app's, entrees (Continuations (?)), desserts, cheese plates. App's were priced between $9-$13, entrees all $20 and below - didn't look at dessert. Wine List was small and pricey (cheapest bottle in the 40s/50s). The dinner menu has a cheaper list and by the glass list on the reverse side.
      We started off with scallops ($13) which were good. Very large they were seared to perfection, three in a serve. Can't remember if they had a sauce/were marinated etc..but it was quite a minimal prep allowing the scallops to shine, it was our fav app. The ravioli was stuffed with puree of butternut squash, very silky it was delish and featured three large ravioli's in a serve. The tuna tarter was disappointing, a piddly scoop of tuna tarte that was just so - so, it didn't really excite the taste buds.
      For entrees, two of us had the Lavendar Salmon which was divine. A good sized piece of fish the salmon was cooked to order and had a subtle lavendar and honey flaovur, it was served with baby bok choy. Friend had the steak au poivre - cooked to her liking, it had plenty of peppery punch and a was a very nice cut of meat. Other friend had the tuna burger which she enjoyed (it was a good size) and whose handcut fries we enjoyed, and other friend had the cornish hen (I didn't try this but she enjoyed it).
      That evening they were giving out dessert plates w/ samples, I have to say, there was not a single dessert on that plate that blew me away. There were cookies, a spice cake, a phyllo pastry thingy with custard and several other nutty bites. All were just ok, given the server told us to 'leave room for dessert' and the expectation created by the adjoining patisserie it was very disappointing.

      Service: Service was uneven. Our server was nice but didn't win any friends with her flowery, illusionary 'skipping thru the meadows' description of the wine. It took us several attempts to place our respective wine orders with her.
      As a new restaurant and industry group, I'm willing to give them a break on some of the service issues. I hope that much of the disorganization and subsequent lack of direction (can we wait at the bar?can we please see a drink menu? is there a coat rack? how long until our table is ready?) experienced upon arrival at the restaurant can be attributed to the work going on outside. However, with several 'managers' running around, lots of patrons milling around, and a small and awkwardly configured space, it seemed like everyone was confused. And unfortunately, with a name like 'Kali's' attached, our expectations were higher.

      All in all, I would most def wait for them to find their feet before considering a return visit. While the salmon was enjoyable the vibe was not. And the food wasn't so good that i am rushing to return, there are plenty of restaurants in Baltimore where i can relax, enjoy great food and thrive on the ambiance.

      Would be interested to hear other posts...

      6 Replies
      1. re: aussiewonder

        We were supposed to go for a full dinner on Saturday, but some friends had to reschedule so we canceled our reservation. I was really looking forward to it because we stopped by on Friday to check it out and had a drink and dessert in the bar and really liked the place.

        I am wondering what desserts aussiewonder's table got because the pistachio covered custard honey string phyllo crust thing we got was really good. Not overly sweet - clean flavors - and we ended up fighting each other for the last bite. The bar had interesting acoustics, so from our high top for 2 we could hear comments from almost everyone - one of which was a young woman saying the sugar cookies (they looked like they were covered in powdered sugar) were the best she ever had and she didn't even like cookies. Made me want to be sure to get try them the next time we go.

        We really liked the bar space - which I think is going to even nicer when there is not construction out front. Small, but the two tables give a nice view of Thames street. While we didn't eat in the dining room, from what we saw, it looked cozy - I guess the ceilings were low, so I'll have to reserve judgment for when we do actually end up eating in the space. The downstairs lounge looked seemed like a place I would like to end up having a romantic evening out with my sweetie. Low tables so it might make eating a traditional meal awkward, but for drinks and snacks or dessert, it looked like a nice addition to the area - sort of front-of-Pazo-esque, but much smaller and more intimate.

        I can see wanting to wait a bit to see how things settle out, but after pretty indifferent service at Woodberry Kitchen last week, I thought there were plenty of folks at Meli on Friday making sure we got what we needed. So I might see if I can get the boy to go back this week or weekend to try for the full experience...

        1. re: a70wilson

          Not really sure what the dessert plates held since our server didn't go over them with us and there wasn't an accompanying menu. We did have a phyllo custard dessert which was good - actually, the best of the lot. I didn't try the sugar cookies so don't really know how those were.

          As i said earlier, def give them some time to find their feet and i'll await other reports before I consider going back.

          1. re: aussiewonder

            Was the phyllo custard dessert perhaps called galaktaboureko? That's generally what Greek joints serve for dessert that has custard and phyllo...Not overly sweet, like most Baklavas. (You have to add lemon to the syrup to help cut the sweet, and boiled sugar-water is less cloying than honey....but they would have to use honey in a place named after honey, so I digress.)

            1. re: venera

              dON'T know, the server just put the plates on the table and said they were 'testing' out various desserts and left. I don't recall her describing them or even telling us what they were called and there was no accompanying menu.

              1. re: venera

                I've had galaktaboureko and this wasn't quite the same, although I couldn't tell you quite why. Maybe the phyllo strings as the base instead of sheets of phyllo? Or maybe because there were two distinct layers of topping - one almost pudding/custard, and the other lighter and airier? So maybe it was a variation?

                There wasn't a dessert menu for us either - we just went to the case and pointed at what we wanted. I am sure they must be working on this?

          2. re: aussiewonder

            "And what was with the painted cloud mural on the ceiling??? Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable restaurant spaces I've dined in which greatly impacted upon the enjoyment of my evening."

            Do you mean the inlayed honeycomb that goes across the whole entire room when you say the "cloud mural"?

          3. Anyone been lately and have any updates? The website is still not updated with a menu...
            I was thinking about taking my mom there tonight, but didn't know if it was worth it. I live in Canton and when she comes to visit, she doesn't like to venture too far, but I would like to try somewhere new.

            1. Had dinner at Meli on Saturday, May 31st and I don't think any of us are in a hurry to return.
              Atmosphere- It was a warm evening and upon arrival we were told they did not have our requested reserved table upstairs so we were seated at one of the private areas downstairs. While the space is cozy, it was uncomfortably hot. We said something and although the staff was helpful(adjusting thermostat), it didn't make much of a difference. The other thing we noticed was how low the tables downstairs are. When our food arrived we were awkwardly hunched over the table. This area is probably better for cocktails and maybe a small plate or two but not a full dinner, imo.

              Food- the prices were average but I'd say the same goes for the food as well. I am a big fan of Mezze and Kali's Court so perhaps my expectations were over inflated, but I was underwhelmed by what I tasted. At the table everyone shared Crab cakes, beef carpaccio, tuna tartare, goat cheese salad. A pet peeve of mine when dining out is ingredient switches/substitutions by the kitchen without informing the diner. If you order something, you should get it. If they can't provide it for you, why not say they are out of something but have substituted so you can decide if you still want the alternative offering? Case in point was the jicama used in place of Bartlett pears in the goat cheese salad...flavorless jicama, I imagine it was used because they thought it was a close texture to pears? Perhaps I'm being too picky, For entree, I had the pistachio crusted lamb chops, med rare. The chops were not crusted but the pistachio was thrown on top as if it was an afterthought at the end of the line. They were not medium rare either. The accompanying shrimp were limp and not very flavorful. I won't get into detail about the risotto as I see other people that have tried have had similar opinions to mine. I also tried the lavendar salmon which was the highlight of the evening. Not too sweet, very delicious glaze.

              Service- As far as service, we had to track down our waiter over and over again. I don't know if it was an issue of understaffing, undertraining, etc. but while he was very nice he was just absent for most of the evening. The manager was alerted and tried to step in and help but he seemed to disappear quite often as well. We were not a high maintenance table either so we could not understand why certain simple requests (more water, a drink from the bar) were not met. The manager was apologetic and desserts were brought to the table on the house. We still had a good time but had any of our group not had a sense of humor about it, it could have ruined the evening.

              I'd go back to the bar upstairs for a nightcap after dinner elsewhere or maybe back down to the lounge area once it gets cold out again and I'm looking for a cozy spot, but there are better options for dinner in the area. Mezze for one! I hope that they are able to work out the kinks they seem to have been experiencing since they opened. When we left we could overhear two other parties out front that had also just finished up and were not very happy with their experience either.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BaltoPhilFood

                If the lavendar salmon was the highlight, I'm glad that I didn't taste anything else. Went there last night for dinner. The food was so-so, I ordered the salmon, and friend ordered the chicken pasta spinach dish which appeared to be really lacking. The desert was the pistashio phyllo thing and that was ok, nothing to rave about. The service was actually very good, knowledgable and attentive. The space is a little strange with the drop ceilings, I feel like conversations echo in there a bit, and the space downstairs which is more of a lounge area looks like it might be interesting on the weekend nights.