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Jul 18, 2010 01:38 AM

Melisse or Saam at Bazaar for European Guest

Hi all:

I have a relative from Luxembourg coming into town in about 2 weeks and he wants to treat my fiance and I to a very nice dinner. He is an experienced diner and during his last trip we went to Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern in Monarch Beach which he felt was too rushed (service) and not up to par with the restaurants in France and around Europe.

I would like to share some top notch cuisine and an overall splendid dining experience with him during this trip. I thought about Urasawa but I think that may be a bit over-budget. So, I was considering Melisse or Saam at the Bazaar. Any recommendations? Do you think Melisse will be to boring for someone who comes from an area where there is a plethora of good French food? I have never been to Melisse but would love to try it. Bazaar also looks very interesting as well.

What do you think? Thanks in advance!

Urasawa Restaurant
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Stonehill Tavern
St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629

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  1. The chef's table at Providence.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lizziee

      Thank you for the suggestion - I will take a look at the menu. My only concern is that last time I was at Providence I felt that the service was a bit aloof and still a bit rushed by European standards. Also, I was aiming for a place where my fiance and I had not been to before. I may Providence a second look however.

      1. re: Searching4Dunny

        If you get the chef's table (not just chef's menu) the service should not be aloof and they will certainly be happy to serve at whatever pace you suggest.

        I also recommend Providence over the other two.

    2. We had dinner at Melisse last night. The food was phenomenal as always. They currently have several sweet corn and tomato preparations that could not be better. They had a wonderful sweet corn agnolotti, a sweet corn soup, and an heirloom tomato salad with basil, avocado, and goat cheese (the description does not do it justice). I think the cooking at Melisse is French, but much of the menu relies on what is local and in-season.

      Service was extremely good. The wine and cheese service were standouts, as the sommelier and cheese server are extremely passionate about their subjects. We were given plenty of time to eat each course and were never rushed. We had five courses plus two amuses over nearly four hours. The only negatives about service were that I had to ask for more bread twice before the bread server came over and the waitress got confused about which of the egg dishes that I had ordered.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jwsel

        Sounds exactly what I am looking for (minus the minor missteps with the bread and the egg). I have heard amazing things about the sweet corn agnolotti and will definitely try that.

        Thank you for the info!

      2. Searching4Dunny:

        Needless to say, I don't know your relative's experiences with restaurants in France and around Europe. But I certainly know mine. France as of late (say, last 5 years) has been in a steady and very remarkable downslope. Old time three-star Michelin establishments in Paris (which shall remain unnamed in this post) where I took friends and business associates have made me feel truly ashamed. Outrageously high prices, when combined with lofty attitude, astonishingly poor sevice and mediocre food are certainly nothing to write home about, at least nothing to write positively about.
        In comparison, LA ( NOTA BENE: I'm saying "LA", not "US" ) has on average a much more relaxed attitude, innovative and (by comparison) fairly unpretentious chefs, and quite reasonable price ranges. No need to go top price. As an example, Mori's omakase will certainly give you and your friends a memorable experience.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RicRios

          I agree, Mori is worth serious consideration. Give your guest something he can't get in Europe.

          Or, if you can get into Totoraku...

          10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

          1. re: mrhooks

            Thanks - I actually considered Mori since sushi of that caliber, I assume, is not typically found in Europe. I will be taking him to an izakaya one night (not sure which one yet) so I do want a bit of variety with the restaurant choices (I understand that sushi at Mori would still be very different from izakaya fare). I will look into it though and ask his preference.

            RicRios: I have also heard about the decline in haute cuisine temples in Europe (and specifically Paris) over the past several years. I understand that the restaurant scene there (Paris) now trends towards the bistronomique type places (i.e. Frenchie, Chez L'Ami Jean, Spring) and that the more traditional places are going downhill. I will certainly factor this in, but I would like to share the experience of a fine dining dinner which would capture the best of the traditional fine dining experiences anywhere, even if this would be an outdated concept in Europe. I am really enjoying this feedback - thanks again!

        2. I have never been to Melisse, but I thought the service at Saam was not very good. The food was interesting, but only one item really stood out (the Philly Cheesesteak). The server confirmed the items would not come out all at once, but they did. It was a pretty big disappointment for a place I was really looking forward to trying.

          I concur with the Providence suggestion. Definitely one of my favorite restaurants in LA.

          1. Melisse, without question. I have had the best meals of my life there & have never ever felt rushed. Josiah's food is sublime.