Melisse is a fairly large restaurant located in Santa Monica near Los Angeles. The chef/owner Josiah Citrin had two Michelin stars when Michelin covered the LA area. It is French cuisine presented in an soft contemporary dining room full of fairly casual people. My understanding is that the dining room was done over in an attempt to obtain that third star, but then Michelin pulled out. There were a ton of service personnel that provided efficient but not overly engaging service. I noticed that not one woman was seen on the staff except for the greeter/hostess. We chose their 10 course tasting and our own bottles of wine. They offer vegetarian and regular tasting menus (numerous choices for each course), with optional supplements.
Our meal started with a couple amuse bouche, the tomato being mildly tasty and the soda being light and fizzy. There was also an oyster with sea grapes and sour sea lettuce broth that was simple but nice and unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it.
The meal began with Egg Caviar that was served with a really good piece of puff pastry. Not a new concept dish, but it was a good take on the standard with the caviar adding a satisfying saltiness.
The “Caprese” was good rendition of this standard. The bigger green tomato was really tasty and the balsamic added a sweetness to the dish. The cucumber was an interesting introduction but blended quite well.
The Corn Potage had a really intriguing taste, with essence of curry and brown butter. There were very few mushrooms.
The foie gras was good, but then it’s hard to wreck this!
In the Spot Prawn dish the prawn was cooked perfectly and the crackers added a wonderful crunch. The Aori Ika is a Japanese squid. The cuttle fish in the dish was visually fun but so mild it added no taste.
The Halibut was cooked to perfection served in a divine sauce. It was a scrumptious dish.
The Beef dish combined a fairly dull bit of braised beef cheek with a nicely rare piece of average cap meat, as this is usually a cut that bursts with flavor. The sauce was nice.
The Cheese Danish looked wonderful but it should have tasted better. The lower bits that sat in the honey were quite good, neither the fig or blue cheese had the flavor I expected.
The Chocolate dessert was good but pretty ordinary as these things go. It wasn’t hard to leave a lot of it on the plate.
The Melon Ice was light, cool and sweet with a lovely contrast of textures between the icy layer and jelly portion. It had just the right amount of sweetness to make it a winner.
The extra treats were pretty but the jelly was a dud. However the bon bon was a knock out. It reminded me strangely enough of a good peanut butter and jelly. The macaroon was as bad as it’s color portended whereas the canelé was among the best I’ve ever had. It was perfect and I could have devoured a plate of them.
The lemon tea was nice but forgettable.