Location: 1104 Wilshire Blvd.Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 395-0881
Date: February 20, 2019
Cuisine: California French
Rating: Great finish
With Foodie Club champ Fred in town the core gang of Erick, myself, Fred got together with Liz for a final meal at Melisse, one of LA’s too remaining Michelin type restaurants — closing any day now sadly and reinventing itself. Liz “twisted our arms” to step up to the rather heroic standard of Coche and d’Auvenay 1re crus. woah!
Not only is the food at Melisse great but I always enjoyed the super close Santa Monica location.
Tonight we got the “10” menu plus the truffle pasta + the special preorder chicken.
2005 Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Millésimé. 94 points. Jumping right out of the glass with notes of top quality vanilla bean, chalk, white flowers, citrus, honey, and many other things. It’s super tense, high-toned, explosive, with razor-sharp acidity and perfect mousse. EXcellent length. A superb combination of richness, excellent tension and mineral salinity. There is a certain sweetness of fruit too. I really love this.
agavin: we bought this lovely champagne off the list to save on a corkage — although it was pricey enough that I’m not sure it was a save, even if great.
Melisse always has great bread.
Erick brought: 2003 Domaine d’Auvenay (Lalou Bize-Leroy) Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières. 96 Points. Fred’s notes: Coche vs d’Auvenay night. Tasted single blind. This was beautiful from the beginning. Very light in color and wonderfully floral. No hint of heaviness or heat. I thought it could have been the 04. The fruit is ripe but not heavy. This was unchanged in its beauty for the entire 4 hours. The floral perfume is just intoxicating. Remarkable for the vintage and tied with the 95 Coche MP and the 00 Coche Caillerets for my WOTN.
agavin: This and the 95 (below) were my favorites.
Fred brought: 2004 Domaine d’Auvenay (Lalou Bize-Leroy) Meursault 1er Cru Gouttes d’Or. BH 93. Like the 2005 version (see herein) this is relatively strongly reduced though in this case it’s possible to see some maturing notes underneath the reductive funk. There is a good deal of petrol character on the impressively dense and intense flavors that possess a seductively textured mid-palate before culminating in a citrusy and ever-so-slightly dry finish that doesn’t really affect the persistence as much as it slightly compromises the overall sense of balance. While this could certainly be drunk now for my taste I would advise holding it for a few more years first. Note too that I would strongly advise decanting this first as help alleviate the reduction.
Fred’s Notes: Very rich and honeyed. There is some lemon acidity but this is more advanced than it should have been. Followed it through for 4 hours in the hopes it would improve but it did not. Drinkable but not what it should have been. Possibly heat damaged.
agavin: Fred, always the mensch, opened his backup
Liz, generous as always brought: 1995 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. BH 94. A killer nose of absolutely stunning complexity and incredible elegance, especially for the vintage is followed by precise, pure and delineated middle weight flavors that offer plenty of sappy and generous Meursault character and a crisp, intense and utterly mineral-driven finish. This is impressively harmonious, strikingly long and while there is a trace of finishing warmth, this remains a marvelous effort. I have tasted this wine many times over the years and the last few bottles are starting to lose a bit of freshness and thus I would be drinking up over the next few years. To be sure, there is no rush but unless you like very well-aged aromas and flavors, there is no reason to wait any longer.
Fred’s notes: Coche vs d’Auvenay night. Tasted single blind it had so much reduction and richness I was sure it was a d’Auvenay. It then when through a grumpy phase where it was not giving up much. After 2 hours it really blossomed and the richness was replaced by floral perfume and a wonderful ethereal quality. This needed time to unfurl and when it did it became one of my favorites of the night.
agavin: loved it. a little closed at first, but opened to be gorgeous after some time.
Fred’s backup: 2000 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Caillerets. BH 93. This has now peaked and is drinking beautifully with a fully mature nose of honeysuckle, peach, apricot and very subtle spice notes that can also be found on the enveloping flavors that possess a wonderfully seductive mouth feel and ample dry extract that both completely buffers the still firm acid spine and coats the palate on the long, lingering and strikingly perfumed if ever-so-slightly warm finish. One character that Coche seems to consistently be able to achieve is how his wines are at once generous yet retain a fine sense of focus and precision and this wine certainly displays this. Lovely stuff that is perfect now. Tasted thrice with consistent notes.
Fred’s notes: Coche vs d’Auvenay night. This was wicked good right out of the gate. Much lighter weight than the others and in consummate balance between fruit, acid, and the Coche profile. A long finish. Some thought it was better than the 95 Coche MP and 03 d’Auvenay Folatieres. For me it was too close to call with each wine showing a little something different.
agavin: very good, and really singing.
From my cellar: 2002 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Caillerets. BH 93. There is a hint of mineral reduction on the otherwise wonderfully fresh, complex and cool nose of mostly acacia blossom and pear scents. I very much like the detail and sense of underlying tension to the mineral-driven middle weight flavors that possess a lightly saline character on the balanced, long and strikingly harmonious finish. While this is sufficiently close to its peak that it could certainly be enjoyed now with much pleasure, I would suggest holding it for another 2 to 4 years first if you want to try the ’02 Caillerets at its apogee.
Fred’s notes: Similar to the note below from Burgundy Al this was muted. With time a faint hint of cork emerged not enough to be obvious on the nose but enough to render it flat
agavin: very flat. I really couldn’t smell/taste the cork, but it was certainly flat, and much much lamer than the other two Caillerets. Sad. Very sad. Opened my backup (the 11).
Backup from my cellar: 2011 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Caillerets. 94 points. Pale, bright yellow. Peach and spicy oak on the nose. Sweet, fleshy and rather opulent, with a fine-grained texture and superb concentration. Very ripe but refined wine. Coche told me these vines suffered in the late June heat spike, but I don’t find the wine obviously marked by heat. Aged in 30% new oak.
Fred’s notes: Some lime and sweet tart notes to start. That profile starts to blow off to reveal a remarkable wine of elegance and acidity. Very young and give these another 10 years.
agavin: very tart, sweet tarts ground in, but lovely. Young!
An opening cocktail? Or juice. Hard to tell.
Some kind of very bright punchy fruit flavor.
Hawaiian Kanpachi. Sorrel panna cotta, hass avocado, radish and yuzu. Very nice bright starter. A unique take on the “tuna and avocado” thing. Loved the panna cotta and the yuzu.
Potato Leek Soup. Crisp Oyster, Preserved red onion. Fine and creamy, if not the most exciting dish of the night.
Egg Caviar. Soft poached egg, smoked lemon creme fraiche, golden ostera caviar. I’ve had this nearly every time I’ve been to Melisse. Still love it. Hard to eat neatly though.
Toast and chicharrones for the tartare. Chicharrones are perfect for me, less carbs, more fat and flavor!
Dungeness Crab and Geoduck Clam. Sisho and kefir lime infused custard, nori dashi. Very light Chawanmushi-style dish with extremely Japanese flavors. There has been strong Japanese influence at Melisse for some time.
Stonington Maine Diver Scallop. Diver Tim Robbins, FV Nilly Willy, Blue Hill Me. Young leeks, Brussels sprouts, fermented black beans, pomelo and mussel jus. A fine dish, but I don’t adore scallops in this kind of prep. I prefer them raw with yuzu!
Wild mushroom risotto. Aged acquerello rice, shaved perigord truffles.
Here with the truffles. Fabulous dish. Expensive supplement (maybe $85) but fabulous.
Black Bass “En Ecailles”. Salsify, fava beans, morel mushrooms, parsely and green garlic. Tasty white fish, but the scales give me the willies as always. Trypophobia!
21 Day Aged Liberty Duck. Salsify, bloomsdale spinach and procini. Very aged — tasty meat though.
We ordered special the Poulet Roti. It comes table-side like this.
Poulet Roti. Potato Mousseline, sunchocke, chanterelle, black truffle. Really nice chicken. Maybe not as great as the chicken baked with straw I had here once or twice, but great.
And bonus legs.
And they served this chicken and truffle salad. Best “chicken salad” I’ve ever had by an order of magnitude.
Camembert. Perigord truffles. We screwed up and forgot to tell them we wanted the cheese cart and not a fixed “cheese course” like this. It was fine, but nowhere near as good as the cart — and you can barely find the cart anywhere nowadays.
Red Velvet. Cream cheese tres leches, red beet and rose geranium.
With the sauce. Beautiful and tasty. Reminds me I have to make red velvet gelato again — been two years!
Lisa Cherimoya. Cara cara, passion fruit, lemongrass and coconut. For me, this was like a perfect dessert. I love this kind of bright creamy passionfruit / coconut kind of thing.
Petit fours. The usual, cannelles, chocolates, pate de fruits, macarons.
Mint tea. Unusual, but nice.
Fred (He and Sebastian keep in the best shape of any Foodie Club guys).
The full wine lineup.
Overall, another epic epic night.
Service at Melisse is first class. As is the food. Plenty of it, delicious, if rich. The price tag is a bit high and it’s not that surprising that they are transforming into something more casual and modern. Our dinner was about $800 a person! The set menu itself isn’t so bad, maybe $210, but add the truffle supplement, the chicken, the hefty corkage, the champagne and all the tax and tip and it really gets up there!
The somm is a friend and really on it. One of the best in town. Our wines were great, but our luck wasn’t as we had to open two backup with only 4 people and these aren’t exactly bargain basement vino. The 02 d’auvenay and 95 MP were the wines of the night — but everything (not flawed) was quite lovely. Paired perfectly with the food and we skipped the red meat (replaced it with the chicken) to highlight the white burg more.
The no flash thing (like many fine dining places) makes photography hard, but I was set with two tripods and my new 35mm 1.8 macro lens. A big improvement in quality but fussing with the tripod constantly makes it a lot more work.
Very fun evening.
I brought some gelato for a bit of a parking lot tailgate (didn’t bring it into the restaurant).
Another new flavor, but continuing my Sicilian theme — Pistachio Almond Lemon Gelato — base made with a 50/50 blend of Pistachios from Bronte Sicily and Noto Almonds, plus Sicilian candied lemon! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — oh my! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #NomNom #dessert #Pistachio #Almond #lemon #sicilysharethis_button(); ?>