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Melisse


Beachfan
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Melisse is the restaurant of Josiah Citrin. I recently had my second fabulous meal there.

Although it has a reputation for spotty service, it was very good both times I was there. Perhaps when the restaurant is full, it suffers.

Of particular importance to me, there is a vegetarian preprinted pre fixe meal on the menu. My wife has grown tired of chefs to full of ego to cater to her because she's different.

We began with goat cheese and tomato tarts as amuses. Very nice, the only demerit was the tart shell was slightly heavy.

More amuses; lobster salad and cucumber foam soup. Perfect summer amuses, well executed, especially the soup.

My wife chose the Celebration of Tomatoes menu, which started off with a Mandarin Tomato Soup (with bruniose of summer squash and tomato sorbet). This was a truly monumental dish. Good beyond reality is how my wife described it. It was for me as well. It is a definitive dish for tomato soup in our foodlore.

My nephew had Wild Mushroom Soup (potato and porcini hash, black truffle mousse) that was very, very toothsome.

My appetizer was seared Hudson Valley fois gras (black mission figs, red onion marmelade, banyuls reduction). A really excellent rendition. Compares favorably to the last time, when it was paired with cherries.

My wifes first entree was Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto (heirloom tomatoes, green zebra tomato coulis, Ligurian EVOO). Excellent. I was hoping to get a second mouthfull, but my wife barely begrudged me this taste.

I had Alaskan King Crab (charentais melon, savory, aged sherry and honey emulsion). A stunning presentation, with the melon wrapping the crab like a particulary jewel-like sushi roll. Great flavor combination.

My nephew had slow roasted wild striped bass (lemon grass-ginger crust, eggplant, soy vermout emulsion). He loved it; it's noteworthy that he ate the eggplant which he always rejects on principle.

For Entrees, my wife had a Summer Vegetable "Fricassee" (roasted tomato compote, basil sause, creamy Anson Mills polenta). The polenta was creamy in a different, unique way that really grew on me. (I didn't get to taste the Fricassee, rare for my light eating wife to not share).

I had Maine Lobster "thermidor", (cooked in court boullion, glazed with lobster-mustard sabyon). The second time I've had lobster there, excellent both times. I haven't had thermidor before so I can't compare it to others but it was truly superb.

My nephew had Roasted Veal Loin and Braised Veal Spare Rib (fricassee of market vegetables, Anson Mills polenta fries, rosemary oil). It got very high marks (although it should be noted, this was the first time my nephew has had "fine dining" - it was part of his graduation gift).

Then came the cheese. This time was a big improvement over last, but this is still a weak part of the menu. Through more careful choosing via inspection, I got cheeses that were appropriately aged. However, they have perail and brin d'amour, great cheeses, at an unacceptable level of underripeness. A runny brie and excellent explorateur, along with a french goat that I forget were well aged; the pecorino was disappointing.

Deserts were a delicious warm flourless chocolate almond cake (almond praline ice cream, milk chocolate sauce) and white peach with sabyon tart and ice cream. The chocolate was the more satisfying of the two (but the peach was nice).

Wine was from my cellar - 1997 Kistler Vineyard Kistler Pinot Noir; too much wood for my current palate. Corkage is $30/bottle (two bottle limit, which could get waved for special events).

The sommelliar also made some wine by the glass available, that really rounded out the wine. A 1989 Vouvray "Moelleux" by Domaine Pichot (for the fois gras) was very nice, a pleasant Gruner Veltiner, and one that I really, really enjoyed, a Bordeaux Blanc by Domaine de Chevalier, 1996.

I'll be back!!!

beachfan

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Thank you for taking the time to write such an excellent review! I’ve been meaning to try Melisse for their vegetarian prix fixe but have always put it off because of their reputation for spotty service. I’ll definitely try them now. I don’t know if you and your wife have tried Sona but they do a wonderful 6 course vegetarian tasting menu. My husband who is not a vegetarian orders the regular 6 course while I have the vegetarian 6 course. We’ve dined at Sona 4 times now, 3 of those times I’ve had the tasting menu and every course but the celery root ravioli filled with burrata cheese was different. One major caution: the service has been perfect on slower days (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) but my last visit on a Friday night was a lesson in patience plus the man who was assigned the duty of replacing the silverware before each course dropped every piece from one inch off the table...strange :huh:

edit: for misplaced emoticon

Edited by Wren (log)
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Thank you for taking the time to write such an excellent review!  I’ve been meaning to try Melisse for their vegetarian prix fixe but have always put it off because of their reputation for spotty service.  I’ll definitely try them now.  I don’t know if you and your wife have tried Sona but they do a wonderful 6 course vegetarian tasting menu.  My husband who is not a vegetarian orders the regular 6 course while I have the vegetarian 6 course.  We’ve dined at Sona 4 times now, 3 of those times I’ve had the tasting menu and every course but the celery root ravioli filled with burrata cheese was different.  One major caution:  the service has been perfect on slower days (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) but my last visit on a Friday night was a lesson in patience plus the man who was assigned the duty of replacing the silverware before each course dropped every piece from one inch off the table...strange :huh:

edit: for misplaced emoticon

Yes, we've been to Sona thanks. My wife found them equally exciting. I found Melisse a hair more exciting, but we're going back to SONA on Saturday.

My last visit to Sona on a Saturday and service was absolutely perfect.

We both agree that we felt better after Sona - they get you to that great place with 1/4 the oil/butter/cream.

beachfan

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Thanks, Beachfan, for such a great review.

I've heard such spotty things about Melisse--both the food and the service--that I've been scared to try it. I'll put it back on the list now. The meals sound divine!

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i had a pretty terrible meal there back in march.  food was bad, wine service wasn't great.  missed a few pours on the wine tasting.  they graciously comped the wine tasting on the bill.

mike

Was it crowded?

beachfan

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i had a pretty terrible meal there back in march.  food was bad, wine service wasn't great.  missed a few pours on the wine tasting.  they graciously comped the wine tasting on the bill.

mike

Was it crowded?

very much so. they were quite busy. lots of odd californian requests too. table next to us requested to be brought a plate of tomatoes. another table said they wanted no butter or cream used in their meal. for crying out loud, you're at melisse! butter and cream are givens

mike

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