Location: 1104 Wilshire Blvd.Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 395-0881
Date: January 29, 2020
Cuisine: California French
Iconic Santa Monica Melisse has rebooted as 2 restaurants in the same space. In the front, Citrin, in a (slightly) more casual (slightly) more shared format, and a small room in the back with Melisse — as a $300ish a head tasting menu only spot.
Special DineLA menu.
Plain pasta for my son — at least they can do it!
From my cellar: 2002 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. BH 97. There is a distinctly phenolic character to the secondary-tinged yet super-fresh nose reflects notes of bread, yeast, pear, baked apple, spice and a hint of citrus. The bold and full-bodied flavors possess superb complexity while being underpinned by a notably fine but dense mousse, all wrapped in a gorgeously persistent finish. This is a seriously impressive effort and one of the best of the Krug Brut vintage series released in many years. Note that while this should continue to age effortlessly, it could certainly be enjoyed now. (Drink starting 2017)
Basil Brioche. Beurre de Baratte. These Melisse used to have. They were great then, they are great now. But you have to order (and pay for) them separately now.
Japanese Hamachi. Citrus, Radish, Cilantro — nice and bright.
Wild Japanese Yellowtail. Grapefruit, Radish, Cilantro.
From my cellar: 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. BH 91-94. A ripe yet airy and quite cool nose of indisputable class reflects notes of citrus, stone and white flowers that serve as a graceful preface for the intensely mineral-driven, tension-filled and chiseled flavors that possess sneaky power and outstanding length. There is notably more acidity here than in the Genevrières and better persistence as well. (Drink starting 2016)
Honeynut Squash. Goat Cheese, Pinenut, Lemon-Thyme.
Seared Maine Scallops. Celeriac, Coconut, Lime. Pretty much as you would expect looking at it.
Loup de Mer “En Ecailles”. Potato, Fennel, Parsley-Miso Broth. They love Ecailles. Creeps me out a bit, actually.
From my cellar: 1947 Moillard-Grivot Chambolle-Musigny. agavin 95. Awesome.
Truffle Risotto. Aged Acquerello Rice, Mascarpone, Black White Truffles.
With the truffles. Super creamy “simple” risotto. Really, really good. Not a huge portion though.
Diamond Ranch Quail. Pear, Salsify, Walnut, Beet, Calvados. My mother didn’t love this, thought it was dry.
Lobster Bolognese. Capellini Pasta, Brown Butter Truffle Froth. This was a Melisse classic for decades.
Vermillion Rock Cod “En Ecailles”. Cauliflower, Meyer Lemon, Pichuberry. More creepy scales.
Snake River Farms Wagyu Coulotte. Carrot, Leek, Shallot, Cayenne.
With the jus. Nice beefy beef.
Miso Glazed Rapini. Turnip, Chanterelle, Yuzu, Toasted Barley.
The dessert menu.
Chocolate, Yuzu, Passionfruit.
Grand Marnier Souffle. Winter Citrus, Vanilla Ice Cream.
Mocha Ice Cream — tasted almost like a sorbet.
Service at Citrin is first class. Wine service is very good. As good as it gets in LA. There is no bottle limit too, although corkage is a bit steep at $50 for the first 2 bottles then $70 after that.
Food was quite good. Similar to Melisse, but formatted differently. Half the table — including me — had the DineLA menu so that was like a mini old Melisse menu. I’m not sure yet what it’s like with the ala carte. Supposedly these are sharing dishes, but they don’t LOOK or sound like sharing dishes. The plating is too delicate. Look at the Lobster pasta above. It’s tiny (and delicious). Maybe you could share it with 2 people. So I don’t think the kitchen has yet “committed” in their heart of hearts to the real idea of the modern sharing format.
Great evening, and I’ll be back many more times I sure — and to the more “elite” Melisse.