On Saturday night, before taking Dave out on the town, Wendy and I decided to hit Mel’s Montreal Diner (440 Bloor Street West, just east of Bathurst) in order to give him a taste of Montreal smoked meat and poutine.
Unfortunately, he never got that taste. Despite the fact that the patio had only two or three occupied tables and the interior restaurant was empty, we waited ten minutes for service before walking out, announcing our departure along the way.
Mel’s waitstaff have generally been sub-par (not just my opinion, see these ones). I’ve seen bathroom mould with more ambition. Even at places where it’s screamingly obvious that the waitstaff are actors with notepads, there’s at least an attempt at professionalism and customer service. The staff at Mel’s seem to have been culled from amateur night at a bipolar disorder clinic.
In spite of the bad service, most people usually forgive Mel’s because of the smoked meat and poutine. The stuff is tasty, and the portions are generous.
There’s also the factor of its location in the Annex, a neighbourhood active both day and night (Jane Jacobs chose to live there). Typically, when I go there, it’s usually after last call, when I’m tired, hungry, with a crowd and perhaps a little tipsy, so the slow service isn’t as noticeable. It’s very telling that the place seems to do its best business is on Friday and Saturday nights after 2, when many other people are in the same state. If it weren’t for the uniqueness of their Montreal deli offerings, the local bar-hoppers, dance-clubbers and film-goers would hit the nearby Tim Horton’s, Insomnia and Pita Pit instead.
But not getting any service at all? On Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m., prime time for the resto-bar trade? That’s bad, even for Mel’s.