DINING: Melody Inn provides memorable classic French Swiss cuisine

Not many Vero restaurants are at the top of their game at the ripe old age of 10.

Fact is, most independent dining establishments don’t make it through their first two years. Even those that survive tend to fade around year four or five. (It’s a tough business.) You can count the Vero fine-dining restaurants that are going strong after a decade on one hand.

But one of those is the Melody Inn. And October is not just the 10th anniversary of the classic French Swiss restaurant in the quaint Seminole Courtyard in downtown Vero. When Hans and Margaret Burri moved their Melody Inn here in 2004, it had already been serving memorable cuisine in Coral Gables for 26 years!

Yet after lo these many years, chef Margaret is producing Euro dishes with a Floridian flair that has regulars coming back time after time (one prominent local resident dines here weekly), and newcomers wondering how it has taken them so long to discover this seemingly endless Melody.

On a recent Thursday evening, we were seated at a table for four in the very pleasant main dining room, and our server quickly returned with glasses of a nice Chardonnay.

For starters, we decided on this evening to forego a couple of our favorites – the escargots bourguignon, and mushroom caps stuffed with chunks of lobster tail meat. Instead, I ordered the shrimp special ($12.50), my husband chose the smoked gouda soup ($5.50) and our companion opted for the seafood bisque ($7.75).

The shimp appetizer consisted of five large shrimp, cooked in sherry and shallots, served in chef Margaret’s tasty Champagne sauce with herbed bread crumbs. Yummy. My husband’s smoked gouda soup was smooth and creamy, with a touch of mushroom. The seafood bisque, however, was the best of the three appetizers – shrimp, clams, mussels and white fish in a creamy base, a bit reminiscent of a bouillabaisse but with cream. Sensational!

Then for entrées, I ordered the veal Francaise ($26), my husband had the veal medley ($30), and our companion had that evening’s seafood special, the yellowtail snapper ($28).

My veal Francaise consisted of medallions of veal, lightly egg washed, and served in a delicious lemon butter sauce. Our companion’s beautiful yellowtail snapper filet was topped with white truffle sea salt and fresh sweet butter, and served in a meunière sauce. Sauces are always tremendous here.

My husband, faced with too many great veal choices, once again ordered the veal medley, which is a sampling of four of menu offerings – the wienerschnitzel, the veal medallion with morels, veal Zurich and bratwurst. He declined to reveal his favorite, though I have always been partial to the veal with morels.

All entrées come with a choice of vegetables which include a Swiss potato cake, rosti potatoes (delectable crispy potato shreds), spatzli (the Alpine version of pasta or gnocchi), red cabbage, and cold beets prepared in a vinaigrette. Never, ever, pass up the beets here.

To conclude a wonderful meal, our server talked us into a slice of chef Margaret’s homemade key lime pie. Then along with the check, we also received out chocolate fix. The Melody Inn for years has been bestowing truffles on the ladies to ease their departure.

Dinner for two with a modest bottle of wine is likely to run $120 before tax and tip

As the chef Margaret embarks on her second decade in Vero, all we can hope is that the Melody goes on for years to come.

I welcome your comments, and encourage you to send feedback to me at tina@verobeach32963.com.

The reviewer is a beachside resident who dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.

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