Each week, Justin Bitner goes hunting for DFW's most interesting sandwiches. Have a sandwich suggestion? Leave it in the comments and he'll check it out.
Venue: Po' Melvin's
Sandwich: Fried Oyster Po' Boy ($9.99)
Bread: Giant, soft baguette
Toppings: Cornmeal battered and fried oysters, lettuce, tomato (mayo standard but nixed on this one)
The Case: Grab your beads, folks, Mardi Gras is nigh upon us. In preparation for every smartphone's favorite holiday, 'Wich Trials headed to Po' Melvin's in Irving to partake in some Cajun grub.
Upon pulling into the parking lot of the eclectic strip center, the marquee for Melvin's is instantly visible with its jarring guarantee that the food is "Sooo good it'll make ya wanna slap yo mama." (Disclaimer: No mothers were actually slapped in the writing of this article, though there was a matronly woman three martinis deep at the bar practically begging for it).
As soon as I walked into the place, I was stuck by the décor. The hallway leading diners up to the host area is lined floor to ceiling with photos of various celebrities and athletes from 10-plus years ago. Candid shots of Tone Loc or Don King with Melvin himself hang in wooden frames, slowly letting their colors evaporate as photographical atrophy takes its toll.
Around the corner, another entire wall is consumed by an orchestra of taxidermy. Striped bass and feral hog heads abound, but the real jewel on this wall is the mounted deer head. Affixed just above the swinging door to the kitchen, the humbly sized buck sports a dusty Santa cap, reminding me of the deer I once had above my fireplace dressed as Robert Goulet.
Making my way to a table, I took note of the booths, each outfitted with its own jukebox. It's a cool touch, lending another level to the scatterbrained arrangement of the room. It borders on TGI Friday's overkill, but somehow it feels like everything has a purpose, rather than somebody just spraying the walls with the contents of an antique shop.
The friendly waiter approached to take my order, placing two glasses on the table: one with ice water, and the other filled with ice and ... chives? I kept calm and asked what the stalks of green onion are for. "Too eat," replied the server, naturally. At that point I decided it was best just to place my order already. I wavered briefly between the shrimp or oyster po' boy, finally opting for the mollusk.
After only a few minutes, I was presented with an enormous platter containing the financially challenged sandwich and what seemed to be two potatoes worth of French fries. The sandwich itself was pretty monstrous in overall size, but the content wasn't overly intimidating. The oysters had a nice mealy crunch to the outside, giving way to the nicely warmed bivalve. There were six of them, which is enough to span the length of the sandwich, but don't expect oysters to be bursting from either side.
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Lettuce and tomato, while not shouting for attention, added texture and substance to the sandwich. The baguette holding the contents didn't give much resistance to the chew but kept the seafood and vegetables together nicely. A few shakes of Louisiana hot sauce across the whole plate added a delicious jolt to everything, making for a solid Mardi Gras prep course.
The Verdict: With a few drops of hot sauce, Po' Melvin's turns out a pretty nice po' boy.
More 'Wich Trials: The Sizzling Steak at Captain Nemo's The Falafel Pita at Milk and Honey The Doc Brown at Pecan Lodge Smokehouse The Challah French Toast at Coffee House Cafe The Gotham Kitchen at Eno's Pizza Tavern