• Steven Keith

Melange Café good for sweet treats and ethnic eats

I finally made it down to the new location of Melange Café on the corner of Virginia and Summers streets, where I enjoyed a lovely little breakfast with my mini-me.

Although Melange is known for its smoothies, coffee drinks, baked goods and decadent waffles, I’ve always been drawn to the restaurant’s Samoan and Hispanic plates.


I’ve enjoyed several of those exotic dishes at lunchtime, but didn’t realize they offered ethnic eats for breakfast, too. Even better? Breakfast is served all day!


Sweet Coconut Bun from Melange Cafe

I’ve tried the Loco Moco, a seasoned beef patty over rice topped with an egg and brown gravy, along with a big country biscuit smothered in Kaleve Pisupo, a delicious Samoan corned beef gravy I want to bathe in.


You can sometimes kickstart your day with Spam and kimchi-fried rice topped with a glistening poached egg, or maybe just a cup of fresh-roasted coffee with a hot-from-the-oven sweet coconut roll called Panipopo.


Or go more traditional with bagels, muffins and such. When my youngest saw a chocolate-drenched waffle the size of his head, there was no turning back for him.


Newer lunch items include a Mac ‘n’ Cheese Taco with bacon and a Yum Yum Taco stuffed with teriyaki tofu and ramen noodles drizzled with vegan yum yum sauce.


But wait, there’s more!


Melange Café also now offers a rotating selection of gorgeous Mexican baked goods from Mia’s Panaderia, a local home-based bakery that also supplies sweet treats for Mea Cuppa coffee shops at Capitol Market and Elk City.


If you haven’t seen these masterful creations, head on over to the bakery’s Facebook photo gallery and be ready to catch your jaw before it hits the floor.


You’ll see churro cheesecake; island conchas topped with bananas, walnuts and coconut; tres leches cakes in all sorts of flavors (PB&J, chocolate, cookies and cream) and all manner of cookies, cakes, buns and more.


Back to Melange, though, it’s a place I don’t visit as often as I should — but thoroughly enjoy every time I do. And the folks there are so darn nice, to boot.

  • IF YOU GO: Melange Café, 700 Virginia St. E. in downtown Charleston, is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 681-265-5155 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.


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Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Please understand that the soapbox I’m about to stand on has absolutely nothing to do with Melange Café. Instead, it’s a warning of sorts to every other restaurant out there.


Up until now, I’ve been pretty impressed with how seriously most restaurants are taking health, safety and cleaning precautions since reopening in a post-COVID world. Social distancing, separate entrances and exits, even sanitized pens to sign your tab – I’ve been happy to see it all.


But it seems like the heightened sense of alert we’ve been on is starting to fade at some places. In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed more employees and more restaurants starting to slack in the mask department – even though mandates are still in place.


Consider yourself warned.


If I see restaurant employees wearing masks around their necks, masks not covering their noses, removing their masks to talk to me or not wearing them at all, I will call you out along with my reviews of your food and service.


I’m sorry, but it’s just too important not to.


• • •


Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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