657 South Collier Boulevard, Marco
MARCO ISLAND — Sunday breakfast buffets are arguably one of the most popular meals of the week. And restaurateur Mel Slawik is no slouch when it comes to having a fry pan on the fire, catering to Islander’s appetites with two popular eateries on the Island.
Now, Slawik has expanded his dining options and added a Sunday tailgate breakfast buffet at Almost Famous Mel’s SouthBeach Smokehouse & BBQ.
The all-you-can-eat breakfast selections are quite ample for the low price of $4.99, and offered from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. If mornings aren’t your thing, late risers can opt for lunch instead. A tailgate hot dog station with all the fixings is also included in the buffet price.
Be forewarned, beverages like coffee, tea or juice are available at ala carte prices.
But don’t confuse breakfast with booze. Almost Famous Mel’s tempts patrons with a bottomless, make-your-own Bloody Mary bar and/or mimosas for $10! This is amply suited for Saturday night revelers who can come for breakfast and cure their hangovers or forget they had one, all at the same time.
“Our all-you-can-eat tailgate breakfast buffet is a real wallet buster at $4.99, and the tailgate name is why we have the hot dog buffet. Incidentally, the bloody Mary bar is bottomless — all you have to do is pick up a glass with vodka in it at the full service liquor bar and come to the Bloody Mary bar and make it yourself with all the stuff that’s set out on the counter,” said Slawik.
The bountiful breakfast offerings are all made and baked on premises. There is a large bread tray piled high with plump, golden biscuits and squares of homemade, cheese/Jalapeno corn bread that kicks in with a spicy wake-up call after the second bite. Then, don’t miss a chafing dish filled with Chef Charlie Haxton’s piquant home fries judiciously seasoned with smoked paprika, garlic and sautéed onions that will make a great accompaniment to the fluffy (lightly salted, if at all) scrambled eggs, plain and western, served in separate pans. Speaking of eggs, the Western-style scrambled eggs are loaded with tasty diced ham, and peppers and onions in moderation.
For some hearty (or even dainty) eaters, breakfast is synonymous with sausage gravy (based on Aunt Nonie’s recipe) and biscuits, and Chef Charlie doesn’t disappoint diners with a generous amount of large sausage chunks swimming in thick and velvety cream sauce that minds its manners and stays on the biscuit rather than oozing all over the plate. Like the scrambled eggs, the salt shaker is barely a presence rather than a shout! Saving diners a return to the head of the buffet line, the chef has thoughtfully placed a separate pan of biscuits alongside the sausage gravy.
Fluffy, golden pancakes are kept piping hot in another chafing dish, and there are two large containers, one filled with a nice, warm syrup devoid of artificial aftertaste, and the other with whipped faux butter, both worthy enough to be slathered on the aforementioned hotcakes. Another thoughtful touch — the pancake pan is refilled as needed rather than piled high willy-nilly that usually results in a mangled mess of pancakes stuck together.
Save room for the tailgate hot dog station filled with a container of plump steamed wieners. To accompany those dogs are four kinds of fixings, such as hot chili just short of fiery (both beans, beef and sweet corn kernels bound together in a savory sauce) along with piquant cheddar cheese sauce, Chef Charlie’s secret onion relish, and traditional tangy sauerkraut. To round out the station are the nice, firm textured rolls for the wieners that won’t fall apart if piled high with any of the condiments. All the tailgate condiments are prepared in house by Chef Charlie.
Dave and Kathi Copelin enjoyed their breakfast buffet. “This is not our first visit to Mel’s. We usually come for Mel’s barbecue because we’re nearby at Residents’ Beach but we thought we’d like to try the breakfast buffet,” said Dave. “But it’s a little light in the meat department so we got a side order of bacon.”