Melisse, Santa Monica, California

Mélisse dinning room
Photo from Forbes Travel Guide.
A drive-by of our intended restaurant, Mélisse, in Santa Monica, California, did not impress but the rest of the experience sure did. The very friendly smiling hostess immediately ushered us to our table in a large well appointed elegant dinning room where two small black boxes containing chocolate truffles were waiting for our guests whose birthdays we were celebrating. Mélisse serves a set seasonally-driven menu of four ($135), seven ($165) or ten ($195) courses each with accompanying wine pairings at $120, $150 and $180. There was one or two choices and a supplementary charge of $25-$95 for some courses. We chose the seven course dinner that turned out to include nine dishes plus an assortment of breads and petit fours at the conclusion of dinner.

Mélisse egg caviar
Photo from Mélisse.
The big eye tuna with its avocado mousse came first and was followed by sweet pea soup that turned out to be everyone’s favorite with its tiny peas, white mushrooms and magic ball of whipped black truffle. If you have never had Mélisse’s egg caviar you are in for a treat and will enjoy it for both its outstanding flavor and the novel way it is presented in a dish that resembles an egg. The seared foie gras with radicchio, parsnip, pecan balsamic and maraschino cherry was rich and smooth but not our favorite, and the Stonington Maine scallop was complimented by a sauce that would have tasted fabulous even on shoe leather. The scales on the black bass “en ecailles” looked intimidating at first but gave a memorable crunch to the dish that made it very unforgettable. The dry aged New York steak was good but out shown by the sunchoke, stinging nettle and Nantes carrot that was cooked to perfection. The Guanaja chocolate dessert was tasty but the Moro blood orange vanilla yogurt that followed ended the dinner on a true high note. A large selection of bread was available throughout most of the meal and we ate far to much of the basil flavored bread that was very recognizable by its bright green color.

Because we had to drive the 405 and 101 freeways home and our guests were not white wine drinkers we opted not to have the Mélisse wine pairing with each course and instead purchased a bottle of Château Vannières Bandol Rose and a bottle of Domaine Jean Foillard “Cuvée Corcelette” Morgon beaujolais from the Mélisse very extensive wine list that includes over 1,000 selections. Both were excellent paired with the dinner!!!

The food and wine were spectacular, but the wait service was even more so…it appeared there were as many staff as customers!!! The chef who prepared each course came to the table to introduce the dish and both our waiter and support staff were friendly, helpful, attentive but never pushy or too familiar. Our water glasses were never more than 1/3 empty and used dinnerware vanished as if by magic at the conclusion of each course. Perfect! The wait between each course can be lengthy and the whole dinner took four hours to complete…an experience that reminded us more of French rather than American dining.

Mélisse has been voted Zagat’s number one rated restaurant in Los Angeles since 2003 and we completly understand why. Without question this was a memorable dinning adventure and the most exquisite we have ever experienced!!! But we have promised ourselves that before we go back we’re going to try some of the other outstanding restaurants Los Angles has to offer.

Mélisse is open Tues – Thurs 6 pm. – 9:30 pm; Friday 6 pm – 10 pm; Saturday 5:45 pm – 10 pm.
Located at: 1104 Wilshire Blvd; Santa Monica, California 90401
Tel.: 310. 395.0881