Melisse or Saam at Bazaar for European Guest
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!
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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If you're looking for a european fine dining experience, Melisse is my first choice. It's very much the haute euro experience, sans the accents.
My experience with Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe is in the major cities - the wait staff, specifically your waiter - not remotely snotty or stuffy. That's a cliche you see in bad comedies. And in fact if you show yourself to be a little fun - they'll rise to meet you. However, if you go into the provinces - out in Burgundy say - the service tends to be far more formal and sedate.
Melisse has the service down pat. Providence is catching up in that regard. Either way, either restaurant you can't go wrong. Both have terrific food and excellent professional service. Mori - love Mori - but far less fanfare. And a very informal room (especialy those ugly - arty from the '50's floors - can they do something about those floors?)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.