I'll say this for Chef Mel Ahmad at the Mango Tree in South Toledo, the man knows how to cook a steak.
We were extremely happy with our meal during our first visit in which we sampled items mostly from the "steak" portion of the menu; we switched over to the seafood menu on our second trip and had mixed results.
The 16-ounce porterhouse ($17.99) is featured as a special for a reason: Chef Mel cuts the steak in-house, according to the menu. So, it was no surprise to see it was grilled to a perfect medium and could compare favorably with most steak houses in the area.
The 8-ounce filet mignon ($22.95) is a beautiful cut with little to no fat and was cooked with a nice char on the skin, but still rich and juicy on the inside.
The French-cut pork shops ($16.95) were generous and grilled with a flavorful crust and tender meat that had very little fat on it. The serving size was generous.
The crab-cake dinner ($16.95) was three hockey-puck-sized cakes that combined with a tangy sauce, the cakes could have come straight from Maine.
The potato skins appetizer ($6) featured mushrooms, muenster cheese, and a hearty, thicker skin. Side dishes of green beans and twice-baked potatoes were solid. The side salads were tasty but fairly standard. However, try the house mango dressing because it was sweet with a little bit of a spicy kick. The clam chowder ($2 upgrade) was so good, I had it for both visits. Lots of clam and potatoes, and very creamy.
Desserts -- mango cheesecake ($6.50) and carrot cake ($6.50) -- were worth the extra expense.
There is not enough space here to do justice to the job by our waitress, Dawn. She was courteous, attentive, and, frankly, could teach a class on the finer points of table-side service.
After such a successful dinner, we were looking forward to our return trip but were let down a bit.
The salmon ($18.95) was dry and under-seasoned. It also was extremely overcooked and had a strong charred flavor. It was oddly served with tarter sauce as well.
Also two three-ounce lobster tails ($18.99) were a little tough but OK. The candied baby carrots were hardly presentable and bland.
The fried-oyster appetizer ($6.50), however, was expertly prepared and a table favorite.
The Mango Tree looks like a run-of-the-mill lounge on the outside, but it boasts a surprisingly inviting dining room and a full bar. Chef Mel proves you don't need a hundred-year-old building to serve good food.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.