Thursday, July 16, 2009

Melisse Anniversary: 10 Years, 10 Dishes

Melisse's 10-year anniversary special features ten classic dishes - favorites of the last ten years. I was very curious what these ten classics are, and how good they are. The ten course meal goes for $150 per person. But that's not all. Corkage is a mere $10/bottle up to two bottles per table, AND each person takes home a $50 gift card.

This was too good to pass up, and the deal only runs through July. Running out of time with my 3 week long Los Alamos stint coming up, I braved two dinners last weekend. The second being, naturally, Melisse (I tried eating lightly at the first).

My first visit to Melisse, 2 years ago, wasn't mind blowing (ordered a la carte) and I didn't return for a while. My second visit with a tasting menu was much a much better, more well-rounded experience. I felt like I finally got to experience the real Melisse.

And now with these ten courses ... the full-on Melisse experience.

Amuse bouche #1
tomato with goat cheese, pistachio
My previous visits to Melisse have started out with similar amuse bouche but with grapes. As it was peak season for tomatoes, the substitution was only fitting.

Amuse bouche #2
cucumber mousse, tomato gazpacho


Egg caviar
lemon creme fraiche, American caviar
Naturally a 10-course meal consisting of what's considered to be Melisse "classics" would include the egg caviar. Here American sturgeon caviar is used. Get all the layers in one bite - half-boiled egg, creme fraiche, and caviar. It's a delectable combination.

Tuna tartare
Pickled cucumber, avocado mousseline, Yuzu vinaigrette
A very refined dish. The avocado mousseline was amazingly smooth. Tuna tartar with avocado just did not excite me at first but this one was above and beyond others. It brought me back from all the excitement of "adventurous" dishes to perfection of a classic dish.

Mandarin Tomato Soup
Tomato tartare and sorbet
The juxtaposition of the warm tomato soup with the cold sorbet was quite interesting (though I think it sent my mouth into mild heat/cold shocks :P ). What was intriguing to us was how the sorbet does not melt during the time we were eating.

Seared Rougie Foie Gras
Black Mission Figs, Pain d'epice, Banyuls Reduction
Perhaps because it was preluded by such refined and wonderful dishes, in a rare but I guess not impossible occasion, I found the seared foie gras the weakest dish of the night. While the pain d'epice was great, I found the foie gras itself a bit 'stringy' and not particularly flavorful.

Lobster Bolognese
Fresh Cappelini, Truffle Froth
Even though Melisse is known as a French restaurant, their food is not purely French and Italian influences can be found in dishes like this one or the gnocchi that I had on a previous visit.
With that said, the lobster bolognese was my favorite dish of the night. The thin pasta strands were so delicate, and do I need to tell you my love affair with truffle?

Dover Sole "Goujonettes"
Sweet white corn, Chanterelle mushrooms, toasted almonds, Scallions
Moist fish with crispy skin and delicate sauce. Though I'm not sure about the transition from the boldly flavored bolognese to this delicate dish where the boldest flavor comes from the Chanterelles- the dish in itself was excellent.

Cote de Boeuf Roti
Potato Leek Torte, Summer Pole Beans, Wild Mushrooms, Herb Jus
Of course the heaviest dish had to come last when I was most full ... the two bites that I did have was excellent though. The beef was juicy and flavorful, pretty tender and actually a bit "gamey". I loved the creamy potato leek torte with crispy crust. Though we couldn't finish it I can tell you I had a most delicious lunch the next day that everyone envied.

ReBlochon Tart
Honey Pepper Gastrique
Because of the word "tart" I expected a dessert dish similar to a cheesecake, but instead this was a nice creative twist on the cheese course. Apparently ReBlochon is best between May and September - perfect timing. Instead of a cheese board with condiments, here you have the rich creamy and smooth ReBlochon cheese with pastry crust, and your sweet/spicy gastrique.

Vanilla Yogurt
Strawberry Sorbet
So simple but done so well. A wonderfully tart and refreshing first dessert works very well as a palate cleanser. And yes we cleaned the plate.

Chocolate Souffle
Banana Mousse
I love chocolate souffle. And I love Melisse's chocolate souffle. Airy and fluffy souffle, the way it should be, filled with rich chocolate ganache. Heavenly.

After this meal I couldn't help but think my first mediocre visit to Melisse was an off-meal. The quality of the dishes put out tonight were excellent, service was spot on - they deserve their 2 Michelin stars even if Michelin won't bother coming back to LA next year. This ten course meal is a worthy experience - and hey we came home with $100 gift card and a most excellent leftover for lunch! Two weeks left, so don't miss out.

Melisse
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-0881
www.melisse.com


Melisse in Los Angeles

10 comments:

PK

=) Okay, I can't wait to go!!! Reservation is still a week away but I'm drooling already, especially it's right about lunch time now.

Jin

gah i want to take my bf there but he's allergic to shellfish. do you get to pick any dishes or is it set?

burumun

Jin: The menu is set but they will most likely work around allergies. Also, you can always eat his share of lobster bolognese :P Soo good!

kevinEats

That soup reminds me of Ludo's chorizo...

Kung Food Panda

I can't wait for the meal there....evven though I'm tempted to add on the Truffle Egg that Kevin had on his visit, but I won't.

Agree with what Kevin said...that soup looked like that cold chorizo soup at Ludobites.

Pinkfoodie

I'm so glad you had a good meal at Melisse. Some of the dishes sound absolutely delicious. Cirin's amuse bouche at the 5x5 was quite enjoyable. I will have to go back to Melisse for a regular dinner one of these days.

FoodDigger

Dammit. I was hoping to be surprised when I went! Actually, I'm even more excited now.

Aaron

So if these ten dishes were representative of Melisse's "best of" then you must hold them in high esteem. Had this deal been available when I was there, I would've certainly attended and knocked out the last of the two star restaurants.

Btw, what do you mean by Michelin is not returning? I haven't heard this bit of news

burumun

Aaron: Apparently Michelin decided not to do LA and Vegas guides starting from next year. Not sure why, oh well. Too bad bcs I think they drive business into LA.

Kat

Great post ^_^ I am so iffy about going!! Man I wish you were here so I can call you and ask if I should go. I was really looking forward to going but I have been wishy washy about it these days.. and to top it off... I got in a car accident today >_<### now I am not in the mood to celebrate.. sob sob sob sob

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