Melisse tasting menu
I guess at $95 for four courses, including one fish (for some reason this category included sweetbreads) and one meat, this is a pretty good deal, but it just didn't impress me much. I had the Maine lobster salad (nice); veal sweetbreads with gnocchi, lima beans and truffle foam (my favorite, the gnocchi were incredibly light and the sweetbreads lovely and delicate. but foam? did nothing for me); cheese course (good; actually I think I was confused and subbed this for the heavy meat course that I wasn't really in the mood for anyway); and clafoutis for dessert (fine).
I kept on being irritated by minor things that should not have happened: the guy who was bringing my wine pairings (sommelier? I wasn't sure... he seemed really unsure of himself, maybe shy) gave the stupidest descriptions: he brought out a rose from Provence and then just told me how rose is made, nothing about this particular wine. I'm not a wine connoisseur, but I enjoy hearing people who are passionate about wine convey some of that passion. It's crazy that I could go down the street to Bottle Rock and get some real wine evangelism but not at one of the finer dining establishments in town. And one of the whites was so awful, NO aroma or body or anything, it reminded me of the $3 sherry I'd gotten from Trader Joe's! I sent it back, but did they take it off the bill for the wine pairing? No.
The cheese cart was a fun experience... I had to get it after seeing it roll by, oozing pungent cheeses that were obviously at the perfect temperature. The cheese guy turned out to be the one who had served my wine, and finally he was able to be descriptive (although it took a bit of prodding for him to reveal his favorites).
The interior was dimly lit; chairs and booths were plushy. The effect was inoffensive and reliable, with no pretension to style (well, maybe the weird modern chandelier). The kind of place you can bring clients, or parents, without worrying about being thrown for a loop.
Wow! I had a completely different experience about 3 weeks ago when I was there. We ended up going for the 12-course vegetarian tasting menu and it was incredible -- easily the best meal I've ever had in LA. The service was outstanding. The sommelier, Bryan, was extremely helpful and he is definitely not a shy guy. It doesn't sound like Bryan was the one pouring your wines. My boyfriend goes there a lot and says that he's always had the same kind of experience. So I wouldn't give up on the restaurant... perhaps they were just having a bad night.
Yeah, I went for the first and only time (so far) about three or four months ago and had a fairly mediocre experience. (Sand in the sauteed greens, bad service, etc.) Seemed like they were really not hitting on all cylinders, but I figured maybe it was just an off night. Then again, maybe not.