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Jan 25, 2009 07:56 PM

Chez Melange - forget it!

Went to Chez Melange for the first time in years...and for the first time in their new location tonite. Although the room is pleasant enough (not great) and our server was pleasant, the food was poor and totally forgetable. The menu was quite uninteresting...nothing out of the ordinary. I ordered the scampi wrapped in prosciutto, which were so salty as to be almost inedible. The house-made paperadelle (? spelling) with black truffle, tasted ok, but was swimming in olive oil, that was clearly of very mediocre quality. The room was very noisy, with many very young children screaming....not the restaurant's fault, but clearly not an attraction. Overall, we left the restaurant feeling that...why did we bother going out for dinner. I am a good, but not extraordinary cook, but eating at home would have been far more comfortable and certainly less expensive. Also, my dinner guest was a vegetarian, and there were no vegetarian entrees on the menu in either the dining room, or in the adjacent pub. Indeed the menu states "No substitutions, please" which in this day and age seems rather rude, and certainly didn't assist my vegetarian guest in placing his order!!

On a positive note, we had cocktails in the pub before dinner. They were excellent and were expertly prepared by a very polite and capable bartender. Going to the pub for a drink and a snack (with a non-vegetarian), is the only way I would consider returning.

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  1. are they trying to market themselves as a gastropub now?
    am i thinking of another south bay restaurant that just relocated?

    1 Reply
    1. re: alkylyou

      I think you must be referring to Chez Melange which indeed has recently relocated. It is now both a so-called "gastropub" , as well as a regular restaurant. It wasn't great in its former life, but I think it was better than it is now!

    2. Thanks for the review. I had been meaning to try them again after the move to the new location. Before the move, I went just once for dinner and thought it was solid but not exciting. The food was good but not great, and not as good as I expected given the price point (at the time, I disliked the decor and the fact that it was a geriatric scene...I guess now it's a kiddie scene). But I really enjoyed the brunch, which was also a better value (and a younger crowd than at dinner). Post-move, the website makes it look good, but I haven't been motivated to go there because the prices are a little high for everyday food and it definitely isn't special enough for a special occasion. Your review has convinced me not to bother trying it for dinner, but I'd still like to try the brunch. Josephnl, you might consider returning for brunch in addition to the pub.

      1. PLEASE NOTE:

        I must add a very positive footnote to my admittedly critical review above. This morning I received a telephone call from one of the restaurant's owners. She was, of course, disappointed that we had a poor experience at Chez Melange last evening. She expressed sincere interest in the problems which we encountered and was gracious in inviting us back for a complimentary dinner. We told her that we would wait a bit to allow the restaurant to "settle into" its new location before we returned, but we would return. When a restaurant's management takes the time and interest to inquire into a "problem" such as this, it generally bodes well for the future. We were positively impressed.

        7 Replies
        1. re: josephnl

          I hope you will report back when you go again. I too have wanted to try it since it moved. Checked it out online and was disappointed and bored by the menu (prices and meat heavy selections). What a bummer! We need some better "adult" options around here! I am so over Catalina-175 bucks for two entrees (the same two I can eat-scallops (SALTY!!) and halibut), two glasses of wine and one dessert?!

          1. re: Densible

            I liked the food at Catalina during my one visit, but I found the near-emptyness of the dining room awkward, and I see that my favorite dish (duck-duck-goose) is no longer on the online menu. I've tried Brix@1601 which seems to be the new southbay favorite, and again found it solid but unexciting (and way too salty!). So my go-to "adult" option in southbay is still Christine.

            1. re: Nicole

              I was so excited about Catalina and the first and second times were good-after the sixth time, It's just over for us. The menu is stagnant. The last few times we went have been busy though. It was awkward in the beginning-I agree. They even had live music last time we were there in December. Maybe it's my palate-I cook mostly everything I eat and use salt sparingly. I find most processed food and restaurant preps to be way over salted to my palate. Now if I can just get the same effect with sugar!
              I live walking distance from Brix-have not eaten there-a few happy hours though. A 28 dollar glass of wine did not make me happy though. I heard it's on LA Magazines best new restaurant list though...
              Christine -just can't get into it. Everything is over sauced it seems to me at least and it feels sort of 80's continental.
              Have you tried Chef Melba's? I really like it. Same old menu as when she started-maybe a few new things but fortunately there are a few dishes I can order over and over again and the quality remains consistent.

              1. re: Densible

                No, I haven't tried Chef Melba's...which tried and true dishes do you order again and again? I've been meaning to check it out.

                At Brix, you may be on the right track with the happy hours, since the best thing we've ordered there is the sliders. If you tend to find food oversalted, as I do, I don't think you'd care for the other dishes we've tried. Yes, they are on the best new restaurant list, we were surprised.

                I don't know, we've always liked Christine. I guess the food sometimes is oversauced, but we like it. Another place we like it Gina Lee's's not as upscale as the others we've mentioned, but the fish is good and so is the service.

                1. re: Nicole

                  Let's see at Melba's I invariably get the shrimp and scallop with pasta in a lemony cream sauce. I think it has some fennel too. Very rich but that is controlled by the smallish portion size. I like the grilled bread they serve as well. The tuna tower is really good. We like the steamed mussels too and the cioppino (I cannot spell today!). There is a spicy shrimp hash (I think that's what she calls it) that I really like when I tear myself away from the pasta. I do not eat meat or fish (except for rare or raw tuna) but it seems they are popular as well. I like to go for an earlyish (7PM or so ) dinner on Friday before it gets too crowded. It's a small room. Try it-I am interested in what you think.

                  We like Gina Lee's too-especially because they do some dishes vegetarian and have a vegetarian menu. I like the korean style lettuce wraps there. I do find the food a bit too sweet and saucy though. Agree service is great. It's relaxing.

                  1. re: Densible

                    Thanks for all the specific recs! We'll try to get there sometime soon.

          2. re: josephnl

            i have been to the gastropub at Chez Melange several times. The food is excellent, and the hamburger there ($9) ranks with the best in Los Angeles.

          3. My wife and I were there quite recently. I got the steak, she got the chicken w/roasted vegetables. They did a perfect sear and nailed rare on the steak (I am picky about this). My wife seemed very happy with her meal as well. No screaming babies (or kids of any kind) in the restaurant while we were there (another one of my pet peeves as I have zero tolerance).

            While we did not get it this last time, we have gotten their truffle pasta in the past and we typically fight over it. So good. Actually, we are not vegetarians but sometimes go off of meat for other reasons. We have been known to just get the truffle pasta, one or two of their salads (they have some unusual ones) and perhaps one or two of their side veggies (big fan of their baby broccoli) and call it a day.

            Oh, as for the space itself -we are so pleased it looks, well, like any modern restaurant you would find on the west side, not that 70's hotel any more, that was awful. My wife is always admiring all the candles in the cocktail lounge, very slick.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ThePalate

              I'm glad to hear a couple of good reviews. I keep meaning to try out the dining room. I was happy with the direction the food was going before the move. I had a couple of great de-constructed salads there. On thing I was a little disappointed with as far as ambiance goes is the bathroom at the new location. Bathrooms are an important part of any establishment. At the old location the bathroom was always trashed, with paper towles on the floor, and no tp in the stalls. I thought at the new location they would spruce up the restroom with the rest of the restaurant, but it looks the same as it always has..and with wood chipped in places. I know its a little nit-picky, but restrooms are important to me.

            2. I took a date there for dinner recently and, while she liked it, I thought it was not as good as at the old location. She had the scallops wrapped in bacon and the scampi with prosciutto, both of which she seemed quite happy with (though she did leave most of the bacon uneaten). I had the Indian chicken lettuce wraps and the veal schnitzel. The former was more messy than flavorful, even with the two dipping sauces, and the latter was a tad dry. The menu seems less inspired than it used to be and, other than the curtained entrance, I don't care for the new space very much.