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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Restaurant of the Weekend: Sweet Melissa’s in Rocky River

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 12:18 PM

A fun vibe, an earthy-meets-trendy décor, and a big menu of really big sandwiches, salads, and assorted entrees help make Sweet Melissa’s a sure bet for busy summer weekends. Nothing formal or stuffy, here. Instead, the restaurant and bakery, which opened in the former Max’s Deli space in Rocky River on April 28, is a relaxing amalgam of rusticity and artfulness, with pale maple floors, an exposed brick wall, and a shiny copper ceiling supporting tiny halogen spotlights. ... Dark wood tabletops, earth-toned napkins, and blue-glazed stoneware help set a suitably “hand-crafted” mood. And in their jeans and recycled t-shirts, friendly (if sometimes tentative) servers look entirely down to earth. So it’s no surprise to learn that owners Matthew and Melissa Ullom are also dedicated “greenies,” focusing on such planet-friendly practices as the use of organic and locally sourced foodstuffs, and recyclable and biodegradable containers. While both the name and the menu – built around sandwiches with monikers like Julia’s Grilled Portabello and Laina’s Chicken Salad – may have a feminine flair, there’s nothing prissy or precious about the ginormous portion sizes. That applies, in particular, to the sandwiches, including the towering turkey club ($9), featuring thinly sliced roast turkey, applewood-smoked bacon, mixed greens (daintly dressed in an herby vinaigrette), yellow and red tomato slices, and sweet-and-gingery cranberry-apple chutney on thick slices of lightly toasted multi-grain bread, from Breadsmith Bakery. Topped with a slab of crisp kosher dill, and showered in crunchy homemade chips, the edifice is far too tall to be tamed by some froufrou toothpick. In fact, it takes an actual wooden skewer to keep this jaw-buster standing straight. Not quite as shockingly large – but nearly as delicious – was the Southern Fried Chicken Salad ($10), a crisp toss of finely chopped romaine, tomato, cucumber, bacon, and hardboiled egg, daintily dabbed in creamy peppercorn dressing, and topped with five deep-fried chicken tenders in a greaseless buttermilk breading. Other options on the expansive menu include lasagna ($12), wood-grilled pork chops ($16), sautéed crabcakes ($16), and five-cheese mac & cheese. For the pipsqueaks, a $6 kiddy menu includes pizza, kosher hot dogs, and organic pb&js; a selection of organic baby food is also available. To drink, freshly brewed mango iced tea ($2) is refreshing, but fragrant vanilla limeade ($4) is an aromatic revelation. And particularly satisfying paired with one of the myriad of freshly made dessert items – tortes, tarts, truffles, cakes, cookies, and crème brulées among them – is a sturdy mug of robust, organic coffee ($2). Sweet Melissa’s is located at 19337 Detroit Rd. in Rocky River; 440-333-6357. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Reservations are not accepted. --- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at

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