By SUSAN ERICSON
Stepping into the foyer of Melody’s Café in Lincroft, we immediately felt the pull of the Adriatic. Murals, glass partitions and up-lights in shades of blue suggest a mood of clear skies and pristine seas.
First though, you need to find the place, tucked away as it is in a Newman Springs Road strip mall containing three restaurants and an Acme supermarket.
Reopened since May after broken pipes caused extensive water damage to the building, the name and hours of the former Santorini Greek Cuisine have changed, but the food is most definitely still Greek-inspired.
Now including breakfast, the menu breaks down into typical eggs, pancakes,waffles and French toast dishes – and some not so typical gourmet items, such as crab cake Benedict and hazelnut chocolate and banana French toast.
The lunch and dinner menus are saturated with classical Mediterranean fare full of sun-kissed produce, seafood, and savory ancestral dishes.
More a dip than a sauce, the complimentary dish of thick, tangy tzatziki laced with cool bits of cucumber on a platter of warm-from-the-oven pita triangles prepared us for the piquant edibles ahead.
An appetizer-sized order of spanakopita ($9.95), a traditional Greek spinach pie – crispy sheets of buttery phyllo dough filled with spinach and feta cheese – was large enough to share. The seasoning and bits of onion added a tangy and welcome zip.
What’s for Lunch? PieHole opted for souvlaki, the Greek equivalent of shish kebab, or food on a stick. Eight plump, grilled shrimp, four to each skewer, came well-seasoned, with more than a hint of garlic and served on a bed of rice. A squirt of lemon was all they needed. Accompanying the dish, a fresh lettuce, tomato, kalamata olive and cucumber salad arrived dressed with a nice light vinaigrette. At $14.25, this made for a generous and filling lunch, but didn’t leave us stuffed. On a hot, steamy summer da,y this was a welcome change from heavy cheese-laden sandwiches and burgers.
If you’re craving mall-style Greek fast food, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a kitchen that knows its way around long-established Greek recipes, such as moussaka and shrimp or chicken kalamata, using fresh ingredients. A welcome surprise was the light-handed seasoning making the flavors of the food come alive.
True to its diner hours, Melody’s Cafe also offers the menu basics. Hamburgers, wraps and sandwiches are available. We’ll be going back to try the Brooklyn Burger made with corned beef, sauerkraut and swiss cheese, but this time we’ll save room for baklava.
Melody’s Café is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. It’s closed Mondays.