Melisse- Carte Blanche Marathon
Warning- this is a long review.
The SO and I braved the rain last Saturday night to make our 745pm reservation at Melisse. After a brief perusal of the menu, we decided to go with the 13 course carte blanche menu (without the wine pairings)
Amuse: Red Grape encrusted with pistacchios. I'm allergic to nuts so the SO got both.
Green Apple Consomme: (Apple caviar, pink lady essence- not sure what the pink lady essence was) I thought this was a bit too tart and sour for a first and we both thought it might be something better served before the dessert as a sort of palate cleanser. At the end of the night, Chef Citroen told us his idea had been to have it as a sort of apple martini. I suppose I get it, but wasn't crazy about it.
Fennel Flan: (orange gelee, cashew) The server nicely omitted the cashew from mine- again, there was a bit too much tartness for me from the orange but I liked the fennel flavor. Unfortunately, I thought the latter was too muted from the tart green apple that was still clinging to my tongue.
Artichoke veloute: (confit tomato, parmesan croquette) I liked the soup- it had a texture reminiscent of split pea soup. The tomato gave it a bit of tartness, which at this point, I was getting tired of.
Egg caviar: When this came out, I was reminded of Providence's amazing lightly poached egg with caviar and uni. I was disappointed to find a slightly overcooked egg and rather bland overall taste.
Trio of Melisse Foie Gras: Not a bad rendition of foie- particularly the two terrines. This was also coupled with a pear sorbet. While I understand that it was supposed to be a palate cleanser, the general flavor didn't mesh well with the trio.
Maine Lobster: (apple chestnut hash, salsify veloute) I had taken a bite of the lobster and found it to be perfectly cooked- sweet and tender. I had a forkful of the hash almost to my mouth when the server came rushing out and said- oh, that has chestnuts in it. Is that okay? Clearly not. They removed the dish, gave me a free glass of champagne, and a new dish minus the chestnuts. A separate host came out to profusely apologize to me, stating that the server had emphasized to the kitchen that I was allergic to nuts and that they would ensure that it did not happen again. Good save and good response.
Crispy Eastern Bass: (porcini mushrooms, spinach, red wine jus) This would have been the fish entree I selected had we gone with the tasting menu- and is probably my favorite of the night. I found the fish slightly overcooked but the flavors were overall delicious.
Slow-cooked pork belly: I was really disappointed in this one- I love pork belly and found this version to be a little chewy and tasteless that didn't improve with the splash of truffle sauce thrown over it. There was a small dash of salt on the plate which we understood we were to use if we wanted and we did. That being said- you have to appropriately salt your meat to bring out the flavor- the extra salt should just have been there in the event that someone wanted more.
Truffle Crusted Lamb Loin: A nicely cooked lamb loin accompanied by lamb shank. The truffle crust was a bit tasteless and didn't really add to the dish.
At this point, we were both reaching the point of FULL. The server told us our next course would come off the cheese tray, which was making its rounds. 20 minutes later, ...
Fromage: I don't remember too much about this aside from the fact that I was extremely sleepy and made the mistake of trying some of the preserved fruits that they had put on a plate to accompany the cheese. The cloying sweetness of the perfumed fruit pretty much rendered the taste of any of the cheeses obsolete. Well, except for the pungent blue cheese. Neither the SO or I are big fans of blue cheese.
Vanilla Yogurt with strawberry sorbet: Very good. The yogurt was delicious with flecks of vanilla bean in it and matched well with the strawberry sorbet.
Frozen Passion Fruit Parfait: Mine came minus the pistacchios. Again, very good. But perhaps I was trying to find something I really liked about our meal at this point. However, I do have to say the coconut sorbet and lemongrass broth were nice complements to the passion fruit.
Chocolate souffle, chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream dipped in white chocolate, and chocolate peanut butter crunch. After 12 courses, this was overkill. When I mentioned that I was allergic to the peanut butter crunch as it was announced, the server that came with this dish said, oh, I guess don't eat that then. Yah- I wasn't planning to. No apology, nothing. At that point I was honestly too tired to care. The souffle was delicious, the mousse was delicious, the ice cream was your basic chocolate ice cream. The souffle by itself or the mousse by itself or hey, omitting this entire dish and calling it a night after the 12 would have worked better.
A couple of comments: Melisse was extremely busy- every table was occupied. I suppose I was expecting a nice, intimate meal but the SO and I virtually had to shout at each other to be heard. At times the dishes came quickly, other times too slowly. We would see the server walk by as we sat with our plates cleared but the pace was not adjusted appropriately. I'm not knocking them for this, just an observation. Props to Citroen for being innovative with some of the dishes- but I didn't feel that the flavors matched well and at times, I think I would have been happy with more simplicity and better preparation.
Overall, a nice restaurant but not amazing.