Based on the request of a few of our readers, Shane and I decided to try Meridian Street Cafe for breakfast Saturday. It is located in a small strip mall across from Grissom High School. As we entered, we found ourselves right in the middle of the dining area. Because there was no hostess station, we decided to seat ourselves. An older man, who appeared to be the owner, came over to our table and welcomed us warmly, asking how our weekend was shaping up. We noticed that a booth opened up and asked him if we could move there; he gladly agreed. The dining area’s decor is sparse, but what is there is tasteful. The booth cushions and curtains are made from modern warm fabrics, giving the space an updated feel.The booths are also painted black, which is a nice touch in the small space.
After scanning the menu, I decided to order the corned beef hash with scrambled eggs, a biscuit, and gravy. Shane chose eggs over easy with bacon, a biscuit, and fried potatoes. Our food arrived within ten minutes. My first thought before I tried anything was that it didn’t look homemade. Unfortunately, the corned beef hash tasted like it came out of a can, and the biscuit was dry and tasted previously frozen. My eggs were fine, but the gravy was instant….think McDonald’s gravy. I was really rooting for this place and still am because the owner was so gracious, but I am sorry that our food was not better. Their breakfast prices were competitive with other local places like Gibson’s and Blue Plate, but unlike these other local spots, I did not find an item on my plate that would compel me to return.
On the advice of a friend, I was glad to try Meridian Street Cafe #2. I still appreciate the advice, but I’m disappointed with Meridian Street. Meridian Street definitely is trying hard—the owner (I believe) was hospitably greeting and assisting customers—but I feel that he’s being bitten by the old 80-20 rule, where his store ends up in the 80% of restaurants that just aren’t that great.
The store is cozy. Fitting the “Cafe” name, it’s small and close-quartered. It’s not the tightest area I’ve been in, but to some degree Melanie and I shared our meal and conversation with everyone else. Most of the decor is simple, tasteful, and modern. I liked it. On the other hand, on the wall hang some hokey framed prints that aren’t modern or appealing (the prints are the kind where a 3-year old boy is shown doing something nauseatingly cute while saying something lifted from an old Family Circus comic). Also, the music was provided by a radio tuned to a local station, which just wasn’t doing it for me. That radio really needs an upgrade. Despite those quibbles, I liked the atmosphere and with a couple alterations believe it would match or surpass that of Blue Plate. The food was fine but no better than average. As Melanie said, I chose over easy eggs, bacon, fried potatoes, and biscuits. The eggs were well-cooked, but the bacon was overcooked, although it had a pleasant flavor. The fried potatoes were crispy and had just the right amount of grease, but they fell short of exceptional. The biscuits were no good and were obviously pre-baked and frozen in a nameless factory. Except for the biscuits, none of the food was bad, but I was disappointed to have eaten nothing memorable.
My lasting impression of Meridian Street Cafe is that it is average—it’s stuck in the giant 80% block of ordinary restaurants. The owner impressed me, and I would like to see the restaurant work well for him, but I believe the store will struggle without adding a must-have item to the menu or without changing the store in some way that makes customers think “I must take my friends there”. A couple tidbits: