Tuesday, June 9, 2015


1104 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: 310.395.0881
$$$$ ($50+)
Cuisine: French
Thurs, 06/04/2015, 6:30pm appointment
      (5 Piglets)

Chef and owner of Melisse Josiah Citrin has put together a sophisticated and chic restaurant in Santa Monica. The two Michelin star restaurant forks out contemporary French cuisine. The menu is prix fixe based on fresh ingredients for the week, with some signature items remaining on the menu. The staff handpick the ingredients to offer the best possible dishes for the night. Additionally, Citrin shows confidence in his chef de cuisine Ken Takayama to create dishes that would be suitable to the fine diners. 

Chef de Cuisine Ken Takayama hard at work

As soon as you walk through the door, you are taken on a two-three hour journey of scrumptious food and superb service. The ambiance is simple, elegant, with a large chandelier as the main decor. Intricate details make this experience memorable. If you're celebrating a birthday or anniversary, you can expect a little gift courtesy of the restaurant. 

The interior dining room
The kitchen

The staff finishing up with the garnishes

The pastry chef hard at work
Black truffles!! I found the stash! 

MY FAVORITE DISH. EGG CAVIAR: Soft poached egg, lemon creme fraiche, American caviar. This luscious creation was simply, well, orgasmic. The construction of this dish is a masterpiece served in its egg shell (be careful, it can break on you and cause an accident on the tablecloth...).  The egg was nicely poached, the creme fraiche had a light citrus flavor and the caviar was delicious. Served with a crispy biscuit, this salty and creamy dish was  full of flavor and perfectly balanced.  It's a signature dish on the menu. 

A NEW VEGETARIAN DISH ON THE MENU:  Soft egg in a squash blossom over a ratatouille. This dish was perfectly seasoned. The charred eggplant on the side gave a nice balance. The squash blossom was fried to a perfect crisp texture allowing for the egg to coat the squash blossom well.  It was accompanied by a ripe tomato and a green tomato and young garlic sauce to add acidity. I'm not a fan of ratatouille but if it was made like this all the time, I would be a convert! For a vegetarian dish, it was rich and satisfying. 
WAGYU BEEF TARTARE: Smoked tomato emulsion, capers and puffed rice. O.M.G. This was an amazingly delicious beef tartare. It had me at wagyu. It was rich, creamy, with the perfect balance of flavors. The puffed rice was the ideal accompaniment to offer crunch and texture. The only complaint I had with this dish (which is small) was that the smoked tomato emulsion was a bit on the salty end. I'd still eat it nonetheless! 

SALMON ROE WITH GELEE: This remarkable salmon eggs had bursts of flavor in your mouth. It was smooth, juicy and was comprehensively a nice dish. If you like the texture of popping boba (but salty), you'll love these little balls! 
FOIE GRAS TERRINE: Bluberry, meyer lemon, hazelnut, toasted brioche. I love, love, love foie gras and this dish is no exception. It was smooth and creamy. The blueberry and lemon along with the salt cut through the richness. The brioche added the right amount of sweetness. It was the perfect combination and downright delicious! 

LOBSTER BOLOGNESE: Fresh cappelini, basil, brown butter truffle froth. The handmade pasta was cooked al dente and was coated with a rich tomato sauce. The lobster was fresh. The truffle froth added tons of additional flavor to the already exceptional dish. 
AMUSE BOUCHE: Orange gelee, fennel panna cotta, vanilla oil and cashew foam. This is a smooth and decadent amuse bouche. From initial plating, you would expect it to be on the sweeter end based on the ingredients. Little did I know that upon first bite, I was taken to a whole new world in terms of taste and palate. If they always start off a meal this good, then you're in for a real treat! 
AGED LIBERTY DUCK WITH CITRUS SCENTED SEEDS: Have you seen anything more beautiful? This 21 day aged duck was extremely tender. It was probably one of the best pieces of duck I've ever had. It comes with a sauce, but it was better without so you can taste the quality and flavors of this gorgeous duck. 
CORN SOUP: This decadent soup is made to its finest. Served with a creme fraiche, it is creamy, luscious, slightly sweet and full of flavor. Extremely delicious. 

STRAWBERRY DESSERT: Do you like the strawberry pie from Marie Callendar's? Then you'll love this dessert! Inspired by that restaurant's pie, this dessert is the strawberry pie deconstructed with the finest flavors. It isn't super sweet and Melisse picked the ripest strawberries around. Cool, refreshing and light. 

CALIFORNIA KING SALMON: With porcini mushrooms and fava beans. This is one amazing piece of fish. I'm normally not a big cooked salmon type of girl, but because it was cooked rare, it was flaky and light with the perfect texture. The pulverized fava beans added a nice flavor. The porcini mushrooms gave the dish the earthiness it needed. A fantastic dish. Be sure to check out the video below to see the construction of this dish! 
PINEAPPLE SOUFFLE: I absolutely love souffles! Many restaurants fail to get it right, but Melisse surprised me in every way possible. The beautifully standing souffle was filled with freshly diced pineapple in the middle topped with a vanilla and lime zest concoction. It was sweet and well balanced. The perfect way to end a perfect night. 

Overall, Melisse presents dishes that are beautifully plated and sophisticated on the palate. There is a lot of work that goes into dishing out a menu like Melisse. The menu is well thought out with precision in each and every dish. Melisse does not offer one simple menu each night, but various ones from vegetarian to their four course meal and all the way to a ten course meal all distinct from each other. What I love about this restaurant is the fact that the majority of the staff have been with Citrin for 15 years plus. The staff is aware of the ins and outs of this exceptional establishment. The fact that the runners/waiters are the ones expediting the food, not the executive chef is unique to most restaurants. Citrin trusts his staff and vice-versa. Would I come back again? Definitely! Word of advice: It can be a bit pricey and it's not an everyday affair to fork out $500+ for two people (but it was well-worth it)!

Notable dishes: Egg Caviar and the Wagyu Beef Tartare

Check out my experience in the kitchen of Melisse restaurant with chef de cuisine Ken Takayama:

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