Melisse or Ritz Carlton Dining Room?
I am planning a special birthday dinner and trying to decide between the truffle tasting menu at Melisse in Santa Monica OR what I hear is amazing cooking by Craig Strongs at the Ritz Carlton Dining Room in Pasadena. I'd love to here what you hounders think - or if you have another splurge birthday suggestion. Thanks.
It would be Melisse for me.
The food is better and more even. The dishes are also more inventive, whereas the stuff that Craig Strongs produces feels a bit more restrained (perhaps its because the Dining Room is a hotel restaurant). I also think, dollar for dollar, Melisse is a better bargain.
Might also consider Valentino - I just had a wonderful chef's table experience there a couple of nights ago.
It might depend on whose birthday you are celebrating. Both are good options, both are semi-formal, yet both are very different. An older person, especially over 60, would probably relate better to the Ritz Carlton than someone half that age, and vice versa. Jared is the consummate host in Pasadena, whereas the front of the house in S/M is just ok, and the wine list is very deep in Pasadena, albeit both lists are quite expensive.
Go with your instincts, yet be sure to report your findings.
I agree that the food at Melisse is better. I have dined at both restaurants recently, and while the Ritz is very good, and the patio is just lovely, the food at Melisse definately wins.