Showing posts with label melisse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label melisse. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Melisse Ups the Ante with New Cocktails by Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix

Melisse has always been one of the top restaurants in the city, but it lacked a good cocktail program - until now. Chef Josiah Citrin and the team at Melisse recently hired the team behind La Descarga and other great LA bars, Steve Livigni, Pablo Moix, and Lindsay Nader, to come up with a bar program to meet the level of their food.

The result? A fun and sophisticated list of cocktails. There's no physical bar at Melisse, but with a kitchen of this caliber, they can do a lot of fun and ambitious things "table side" that you cannot do at a busy bar, like this deconstructed Zombie.

Watching the setup and action is certainly part of the draw for this drink.

Steve Livigni pouring in frozen nitrogen
The deconstructed zombie consisted of rum jello made with three different rums (Flor de Cana 4 year, Appleton VX, and Smith and Cross Navy Strength), Passion fruit "dippin dots", mint gelee, and passionfruit juice. It's beautiful with the style of a Melisse dessert.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

April Bloomfield Dinner at Melisse

Although this year there has been no news on the 5x5 Dinner series, Angelenos can still indulge in guest chef dinners at Melisse. This summer, Chef Josiah Citrin welcomes Chef Christopher Kostow of Restaurant at Meadowood, Chef April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig and The Breslin in NYC, and Chef David Kinch of Manresa.

I was able to go to the Bloomfield dinner and enjoyed a six (more like seven) course meal prepared by Chef Bloomfield, Chef Citrin and Takayama of Melisse, and Chef Ray Garcia of FIG. Chef April Bloomfield opened The Spotted Pig, New York's first gastropub, in 2004. It was a huge hit and the restaurant with its seasonal British-pub/Italian has maintained its one Michelin star since then.

This dinner is a collaboration hosted by Melisse, so naturally the amuse bouche and bread come from Melisse.

The meal started with Foie gras with yuzu and Melon, mint, pistachio.

Bread service: Basil brioche, bacon focaccia

Since it's Monday and I didn't want to spend even more money, I opted for a glass of wine instead of doing the wine pairing (an extra $75). I ordered the 2008 Chateauneuf du Pape, Domaine de La Solitude which was meant to be paired with the Boudin Blanc course. Despite being a fairly young wine, I found it pretty smooth.

Wild Japanese Kanpachi
Sorrel, cucumber, passionfruit-espellete // Josiah Citrin and Ken Takayama
The richness from the sorrel nicely highlighted the kanpachi.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
Crisp olives // April Bloomfield
This gazpacho turns out to be a good introduction to the food of Chef April Bloomfield: bold flavors and strong on the spice. The crisp olives were a nice textural touch and were something I could munch on all day.

Squid Basquaise
Nduja, forbidden rice, piment d'anglet, prosciutto // Ray Garcia
Part of the squid was stuffed with nduja, a spicy pork sausage which originated from Calabria, and forbidden rice (a type of black rice). The dish was finished with chorizo romesco sauce. This dish is a good followup to Bloomfield's gazpacho with its equally strong flavors. The squid had a great texture although there were a little too much nduja in the pieces that were stuffed.

Boudin Blanc
Sauteed market potatoes, basil & pickled mustard seed // April Bloomfield
This boudin blanc was made with pork and veal. The potatoes were flavorful and moist although I preferred eating them separately from the sausage.
Interestingly, I didn't think the Chateauneuf du Pape actually paired that well with this dish. The boudin blanc brought out the tartness and acidity in what was before a rich and smooth wine and unfortunately this tartness overwhelmed the food.

Arctic Char
Spiced lentils, anchovy-pine nut bread crumb //April Bloomfield
The fish was cooked perfectly and had a nice skin but the lentil and anchovy-pine nut crumb were a little too salty and strong in flavors. Fortunately the tomatoes really helped cut this saltiness. I enjoyed the flavors but the salt could be toned down - or add more tomatoes.

Snake River Farms Wagyu Beef
Chanterelle mushrooms, Brentwood corn, summer truffles, "jus de boeuf acidule"
// Josiah Citrin and Ken Takayama
In the back were braised short ribs and potato galette. Even without reading the menu, upon looking at and tasting this dish you should know that this was not April Bloomfield. The dish had more subtle and balanced flavors. Yes, this was very much a Melisse dish. My only complaint was that the wagyu was tougher than I would've liked.

Strawberry, Basil, and Pistachio //Josiah Citrin and Ken Takayama
Berry sabayon, brown butter ice cream over pistachio vacherin, finished with basil emulsion. A solid and refreshing dessert from Melisse (although my heart still lies with their Passionfruit Parfait with lemongrass soup).

Persian mulberries, apricot, creme fraiche, canele, and a housemade raspberry chocolate truffle
The Persian mulberries were the juiciest and sweetest mulberries we've ever had while the delightful truffles melted in our mouths.

The three dishes by Chef Bloomfield gave a pretty good idea of her style. Each dish was excellent with strong and bold flavors which no doubt would work wonderfully at a casual gastro-pub but in my opinion as part of a tasting menu where progression of the meal itself is important, their flavors are too strong. They lack the restraint that Chef Josiah Citrin showcases in his dishes.

Next up: Chef David Kinch of Manresa on Monday, August 23rd!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

April Bloomfield Dinner at Melisse: The Menu

The Summer Guest Chef series at Melisse continues. Yes, I'll be attending this one!

Chef April Bloomfield from
The Spotted Pig, New York on
Monday, July 26, 2010.

Amuse Bouche

First Course
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
Crisp Olives

Second Course
Stuffed Squid Basquaise-Nduja
Forbidden Rice, Olympic Garden Tomatoes, Espellete

Third Course
Boudin Blanc
Sauteed Market Potatoes, Basil and Pickled Mustard Seed

Fourth Course
Arctic Char
Spiced Lentils, Anchovy-Pine Nut Bread Crumb

Fifth Course
Snake River Farms Wagyu Beef
Chanterelle Mushrooms, Sweet White Corn, Summer Truffles, "Jus de Bouef Acidule"

Strawberry, Basil and Pistachio

Each Menu will be $150
(not inclusive of alcohol, tax or gratuity)

A portion from each reservation will be donated to Southern California Special Olympics

For reservations please call 310-395-0881

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Menu: Christopher Kostow Guest Chef Dinner at Melisse

On Sunday June 27, Chef Christopher Kostow from The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley will be preparing a special five course meal (+dessert) at Melisse, kicking their Summer Guest Chef Series.

Here's the menu Chef Kostow has prepared:

First Course
Foie Gras in Black Bread
Dark Chocolate, Apricot, Bacon

Second Course
Santa Barbara Spot Prawn, Hokkaido Scallop and Cuttlefish
Windrose Farm Tomatoes, Uni-Apple Emulsion

Third Course
California Halibut with Serrano "Skin"
Molten Corn, Porcini, Borage

Fourth Course
Liberty Duck Breast and Confit Leg
Murray's Lulu Berries, Japanese Turnips, Jus d' Epice

Fifth Course
Veal Breast "Vitello Tonnato"
Hamachi Collar Mayo, Pickled Cucumber, Sorrel

Peach, Peach, Peach

The dinner is $150 per person (tax and gratuity not included)
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Special Olympics.

For reservation please call 310-395-0881 or visit OpenTable.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer Guest Chef Series at Melisse

There's no word on 5x5 dinners this year, but Chef Josiah Citrin of Melisse won't leave you hanging. This summer he has invited his fellow Michelin-starred chefs around the country for one-night stints at Melisse, where they will prepare a special 5-course menu.

Here's the chef line-up:

Sunday, June 27th
Chef Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley

Monday, July 26th
Chef April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig in New York

Monday, August 23rd
Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos

Local Chef Ray Garcia of Fig in Santa Monica will be preparing an amuse bouche for each of the dinners

Each menu will be priced at $150 per person (tax and gratuity not included)
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Special Olympics

For reservation please call 310-395-0881 or visit OpenTable.

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.

1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-0881

Melisse in Los Angeles

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2-Star Melisse

Went to the two Michelin starred restaurant Melisse last night, with great expectations (Michelin stars come with responsibilities!). We were 10 minutes late but were promptly seated and were accomodated even when we wanted to switch to a bigger table. They had a champagne cart, but we opted out of alcohol for the night. Since we didn't have much time, we didn't get any tasting menu.

They started us with grapes coated with goat cheese and pistachio crumbs.The amuse bouche was a tuna tartar, and in the shot glass was layers of passionfruit gelee, fennel flan, and topped with cashew foam.
I liked the concoction in the shot glass, but the tuna tartar was unmemorable, although good.

The Egg Caviar was good. Poached egg with cauliflower puree and caviar.
The quality of the poached egg and caviar was good, but I don't think it is worth the price they are charging for it .... It isn't even that much caviar ...

The sweet onion-parmesan soup, on the other hand, was excellent. They bring out the bowl with the jumbo lump crab cake, then pour the soup on the table.
The soup was smooth, and very flavorful. Not onion-y at all, and the crab cake was also excellent. Probably my favorite dish tonight (not counting dessert).

One of the entrees we got was the veal and spare ribs. The veal was good and tender, but the spare ribs we thought were on the tough and dry side .... definitely have had better.
I ordered the Crispy Rouget, served with mashed potatoes, and roasted potatoes on the side.
I liked the crispiness of the skin, and the sauce. However, after eating half of the plate I started feeling that the fish was a bit dry, and that there was just too much potatoes everywhere ... I liked the dish and thought it was good, but I wasn't really blown away.

We felt underwhelmed by our main courses ... and when our waitress asked we let her know so. Pretty soon after, the manager (I guess) came by our table and asked what was wrong. We let him know that the ribs were tough and dry. We also said though that to be fair we will come back and give them another try with the Carte Blanche tasting menu. He apologized and said that usually people are blown away, thanked us for letting him know and asked to give them another chance, then took our dessert order and said that the dessert will be on him.

After our meal, I didn't know what to expect for the dessert, but the Passionfruit Parfait we got was actually excellent! This contains frozen passionfruit souffle, topped with coconut sorbet and pistachio tuile, then drenched with lemongrass milk.
Amazing. Overall very refreshing and creative. We really liked this and I drank every last drop of the lemongrass milk (that the rest of it was also swiped clean goes without saying). I started to feel better about the restaurant after the first bite :)

Right now, I can't say I'm in love with the place, although I am in love with that dessert. I've been to Bouley in New York, and as far as 2-star restaurants go, Bouley was much better. And right now I also like Providence better. But, admitting that I didn't order anything from the Seasonal specials, and didn't get the tasting menu (which I always do at Providence), I don't want to discount this place yet. They're up for another test.

1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-0881

Melisse on Urbanspoon

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