Restaurant: Melisse [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]
Location: 1104 Wilshire Blvd.Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 395-0881
Date: February 28, 2018
Cuisine: California French
Rating: Awesome again
It’s been several years since Erick and I came to Melisse for the Carte Blanche, and we wanted to combine a return with Erick & Fred’s birthdays and an excuse to open some DRC RSV.
These days the Carte Blanche must be ordered in advance — and apparently is rarely done, only once every month or two!
Hope Ranch Black Mussels. Radish, cilantro, tomato water. Very clean and bright.
Fred brought this awesome old Krug Grand Cuvee. Nice oxidative notes — amazing.
Puntarelle. Minetuna, fennel, capers & Black Olives. Crunchy, delicious, and with a quality not unlike a combination of sunomono and one of those Vietnamese salads featuring papaya or bamboo.
Smoked Salmon. Meyer lemon and nasturtium. Very soft and cool.
Sweet Pea Soup. White Mushrooms, potato, whipped black truffle. One of the best pea soups I’ve had — delicious — in no small part because of that truffle whip.
Matt, the Somm, recommended this awesome 2006 Királyudvar Furmint Tokaji Sec. 90 points. Very pale golden color. Nose offers apple, toasted grass and a burst of… maybe kerosine more than gasoline. More of that dry grass and simmering petrol on the off-dry palate, with green apple, pear, ripe peach, mineral, and a juicy component like cactus meat. Finish is a little short, with a prickly, raspy dryness in the throat. I’ve had more complex dry tokaji, but at its price point this is an absolute steal.
agavin: awesome and very complex
Egg Caviar. Soft Poached Egg, smocked haddock, cauliflower cream, sturgeon caviar.
Always a delicious signature dish here at Melisse, this was no exception. They now serve it in a glass egg instead of the lopped-top eggshell.
Seared Foie Gras. Meiwa Kumquat, apricot and ginger. Awesome huge chunk of fatty, fruitty goodness.
From Erick’s cellar: 1995 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St. Vivant. BH 92. Gorgeous, sexy, opulently perfumed fruit followed by medium weight, intense, backward, beautifully textured flavors underpinned by solid but ripe tannins and the same floral note that many of these ’95s display. This is really quite lovely with a really impressive purity of expression and should age well for years.
agavin: pretty open from the start
From my cellar: 1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St. Vivant. VM 98. An absolutely stunning wine, the 1999 Romanée St. Vivant is also deeply informed by vintage. Layers of flavor burst from the glass in all directions in a wine that captures the essence of Romanée St. Vivant. At times delicate and refined, while at others a wine of structure, the St. Vivant dazzles with its complexity and nuance. Clean veins of underlying minerality support the vibrant, saline finish in a breathtaking Burgundy endowed with superb depth. The first DRC wine I ever tasted was a Romanée St. Vivant, so this wine has always been a sentimental favorite. The 1999 is a stunner.
agavin: took 2-3 hours to open up — but was great when it did.
Fred brought: 2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St. Vivant. VM 95+. Medium red with a palish rim. Very sexy aromas and flavors of cherry, dried rose, cinnamon and herbs. Not an opulent style but boasts terrific definition and energy to its strong cherry and berry flavors accented by pepper and leather. This very young, tight RSV needs either a few hours in a decanter or another 5+ years in the cellar. Will eventually go truffley and underbrushy but there’s no sign of tertiary aromas today. Cellarmaster Bernard Noble noted that “there are some regrets about 2002: we could have waited another four or five days to pick. At this stage, our ’02s show less flesh and more spirit.”
agavin: surprisingly open and drinkable — really nice
Roasted “Giant Carrot.” Coconut curry and seeds.
Great bread, but they have dropped the bacon roll. I’m sad.
Stonington Maine Scallop. Celtuce, snap peas, sword lettuce and seaweed. Really good scallop dish.
Truffle Risotto. Aged Acquerello rice, shaved Perigord truffles.
And the shaving.
Voila, amazing dish with great subtle flavor and texture.
Black bass “En Ecailles.” Green tomato, black sesame, kohl rabi and green garlic. Creepy scales aside, as lovely a bit of bass as you get.
Jidori Chicken. Cabbage sprout, celeriac and porcini.
Avec le jus. Really nice chicken. The “boring” bird doesn’t have to be boring.
Snake River farms rib eye cap. Fava beans, polenta, black truffle.
Another great main. The truffle paste blob was delicious.
Camembert. Black truffle and honey. We continue the truffle theme!
Guanaja Chocolate. Hazelnuts and coffee. This isn’t as epic as Melisse chocolate desserts used to be, but it was good.
Strawberries and cream. Delicious of course.
Gels, chocolates, macarons, cannelles.
Overall, an amazing meal and crazy good wines. I was very stuffed and this was one of those serious tastings where you have ALL the types of proteins etc. But still, Melisse has “toned down” the Carte Blanche from the crazy level of food it was several years ago — in fact they pretty much just do it on request. Now, that said, they did pack a lot of great ingredients in this menu. Tons of truffle. And execution and service remain super on point.
I just wish I could’ve used a flash. I have prepped a small tripod for the next time i have one of these no flash tasting menus.
Foodie Club co-president Erick.
Foodie Club Senior Wine Exec, Fred.