Restaurant: Melisse [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Location: 1104 Wilshire Blvd.Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 395-0881
Date: April 10, 2013
Cuisine: California French
Rating: Awesome in all ways
Melisse is a real standout in LA for many reasons. It’s almost the last of the European style haut cuisine restaurants and it maintains an ever evolving cuisine at the highest level. Food, presentation, and service here are all top notch.
Tonight, my third trip to Melisse in 6 weeks, was for founding Foodie Club member Simon’s birthday celebration.
We settled on the “10” a good sized tasting menu, but not quite as crazy as the carte blanche (my usual favorite).
Melisse has one of those corkage setups where they’ll waive corkage on (up to 2) bottles if you order off the list, so we started with this recommend from Master Somm Brian.
2011 Domaine du Gros’ Noré Bandol Rosé. This was a lovely bottle. Nice fruit and acidity and very refined. It doesn’t achieve the ethereal qualities or elegance of Tempier, but it is very good in its own right.
The first amuse is a Melisse staple. Grapes two ways. Out of the spoon are half grapes coated in goat cheese and pistachio. On the spoon sphereized grapes dusted with pistachio. The first has a nice contrast of the sharp cheese and the fruit, the second is an explosion of grapeness.
And the bread arrives. I went for a piece of bacon, and a basil brioche.
Wild new Zealand Tai Snapper. Chrysanthemum, Radish, and Meyer Lemon.
And this other bottle off the list:
2007 Château d’Orschwihr Gewurztraminer Bollenberg. A very nice dry Gewurtz.
No trip to Melisse would be complete without the classic, “Egg Caviar, Lemon Creme Fraiche, American Osetra Caviar.” It’s a classic for a reason. The Creme Fraiche is so good, and there is raw egg yolk at the bottom. Amazing combo, particularly with the little toast stick.
This is a vegetarian variant with sweet onion “caviar.”
The rest of the wines are mostly from my cellar, the Lagrange and Gevrey being from Erick’s.
2008 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. Parker 92. “With respect to La Nerthe’s white wines, in 2008 none of the special cuvee called Clos de Beauvenir was produced, so the regular bottling of 2008 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc is a beauty (this vintage for white wines is stronger than it was for reds). This blend of 39% Roussanne, 27% Grenache Blanc, and the rest Bourboulenc and Clairette exhibits a delectable bouquet of pears, spring flowers, honeysuckle, and melons. With crisp acids, medium to full body, and terrific aromatics.”
Spring Onion Veloute. Crab Cake.
With the soup itself added. A very nice soft vegetable soup. Delicious.
The vegetarian variant has spring onions themselves.
2001 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 93. “The 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau is gorgeous, structured, impressive. Full-bodied and backward, with great depth, purity, and heady aromatics, this 20,000-case blend of 60% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, and 15% miscellaneous amounts of the other permitted varietals will easily rival the 1998. A deep ruby/purple-tinged color is accompanied by a sweet perfume of salty sea breezes, seaweed, melted licorice, kirsch liqueur, creme de cassis, and iodine … a classic Vieux-Telegraphe aromatic display. Powerful as well as firmly structured, this is a wine to lay away for 4-5 years. It should prove to be uncommonly long-lived, lasting a minimum of two decades. It gets my nod as the greatest Vieux-Telegraphe since the 1998.”
Zuckerman Farms Green Asparagus. Ocean Vegetables, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Perigord Reduction.
About as good as green asparagus gets!
1996 Domaine des Perdrix Echezeaux. Parker 93-95. “If the wine I tasted out of barrel is bottled without losing its extraordinary fruit and precision (i.e. little fining or filtration), it will be a blockbuster. Dark ruby-colored and exhibiting copious quantities of sweet dark fruits, violets, and traces of minerals, this wine is magnificently defined, elegant, and feminine. An intense, juicy, and fabulously pure core of candied cherries, plums, blueberries, and flowers can be found in this full-bodied, velvety, and admirably long wine. Projected maturity: 2003-2009+. Bravo!”
Scallop Cooked in its Shell. Plantain and Wild Flowers. Very light and “floral.”
The vegetarian variant was marinated daikon radish.
1993 Domaine Tollot-Beaut et Fils Corton Bressandes. Parker 87. “Both offerings from Corton (Corton and Corton Les Bressandes) possess plenty of new oak, medium body, and attractive, ripe, sweet black-cherry fruit flavors. The Corton Les Bressandes begins well, but the finish is hard and tough, with a touch of astringency, which could create serious problems during the wine’s aging.”
Wild Steelhead Salmon. Fava Beans, Stinging Nettle, Crayfish Jus.
With the jus. Extremely soft and fresh salmon.
1993 Domaine Joseph Roty Gevrey Chambertin Champs Chenys. Parker 1993. “I enjoyed all three of Roty’s village Gevrey-Chambertins. The medium ruby-colored Gevrey-Chambertin Champs Chenys reveals more intensity than La Brunelle, nice spice, and moderate tannin in the finish. It should drink well for 5-6 years. Roty has enjoyed modest success in 1993, managing to avoid the harsh tannin and hollow mid-palates exhibited by many wines. Nevertheless, his 1993s are not of the same quality level as his 1990s and 1985s. They possess good concentration, but the colors are less intense than expected, and the extraction and intensity of flavor, while impressive, are not as great as in other top vintages. I recently had the 1985 Mazy-Chambertin and I do not see any of these 1993s approaching the levels of richness and complexity that wine exhibits.”
Beef Cheek Agnolotti. English Peas, Porcini Mushrooms, Red Wine Herb Jus.
Sauced. Yum, yum. This is the kind of pasta I like :-).
A vegetarian variant with vegetables, a kind of pulled fermented tofu, and a fresh egg.
1997 Aldo Conterno Barolo Colonnello. Parker 91. “The full-bodied, dark garnet-colored 1997 Barolo Colonnello displays licorice, spice, box, and kirsch liqueur characteristics as well as noticeable acidity. As the wine sits in the glass, aromas of soy, herbs, and incense emerge. It is a tightly-framed, full-bodied, powerful yet close-to-the-vest offering.”
1986 Lagrange. Parker 92. “Here is a classic example of a wine that is showing significantly more complexity and richness from the bottle than out of cask, although it was certainly a potentially outstanding wine when tasted from the barrel. In a vintage that produced a number of enormously structured, rich, concentrated wines, Lagrange is another of the blockbuster wines that seems capable of lasting 30-35 years. Black/ruby in color, with a closed but burgeoning bouquet of spicy new oak, black fruits, and flowers, this muscular, full-bodied, tannic wine is packed with fruit and is clearly one of the great long-distance runners from this vintage. I admire how the significant investment made by the Japanese owners in this property has paid off with a thrilling, albeit amazingly backward, wine. The finest Lagrange to date!”
Elysian Farms Lamb. Red Dragon Carrots, Green Garlic, Wheat Berries.
Sauced. Not as gamey as the lamb we had here the other week, but very good.
A bit of crispy halibut with a beure blanc sauce and mini gnocchi.
1998 Michel Ogier Cote Rotie. Parker 90. “Ogier’s regular cuvee of Cote Rotie sees about 25-30% new oak. It spends 18 months in barrel, and over 70% of the grapes emerge from their holdings on the Cote Blonde. The 1998 Cote Rotie exhibits scents and flavors of charred earth, smoke, minerals, and cassis. The wine is full-bodied, rich, and dense, with abundant tannin in the finish. The French might call it a true vin de garde. It needs 4-5 years of cellaring, and will keep for 15-18+ years. This wine is bottled with no filtration.”
Fourme d’Ambert. Pear Tart, Wild Watercress, Peppered Honey.
I’m always good with blue.
We also added a round from the cheese cart. Here is some stinky stuff including Époisses de Bourgogne in the upper left.
Molten Chocolate Tart, peppermint Sorbet.
Not your average “molten chocolate cake”!
Coconut Meringue. White Sage Beer and Anise.
A very refreshing dish whose innards were not unlike — dipping dots!
Strawberries, chocolates (with peanut butter inside) and pate de fruits.
Macarons, cookies, and canelles.
Melisse has two Michelin stars, and it deserves every ounce of them. The service is amazing too. The setting is not as fully formal as some French three-stars, or the service quite so orchestrated (that level is more amusement than actually pleasant), and there are no zany carts for teas and sugars, but the food and creativity demonstrate Melisse’s deserved position as one of America’s top kitchens. I ‘ve gone several times a year for a decade and it keeps getting better and better!
For another Melisse meal, click here.
Or for other Foodie Club meals, click here.