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Melisse vs. Craft

The Oracle Jul 11, 2013 01:13 PM

For those that have been to both, how would the two compare and contrast. I'd like to know things like: price point, size of dishes, ambiance, service, overall experience and/or value (to name a few - please add whatever comes to mind).

For background: I've been to Craft (which I loved - amazing service, excellent food) but not Melisse. I've always wanted to go to Melisse, but fear it may be too fussy for the dining companion I'd be going with. This dining companion has not been to Craft, so the option could be to go with the safer option of Craft (which would not necessarily be a bad thing!).

  1. wienermobile Jul 11, 2013 01:21 PM

    Craft has a three course $45 DineLA dinner starting this Monday July 15th

    1. d
      djquinnc Jul 11, 2013 01:56 PM

      I have been to Craft three or four times. I have been to Melisse once. Craft was less expensive and I still remember fondly many of the dishes I was served. Melisse was significantly more expensive, but aside from the lobster Bolognese, most of the meal is a nebulous blur in my consciousness. I think another deciding factor might be atmosphere. If I did not wear my jacket to Melisse that night, I would have felt underdressed. At Craft, I have gotten away with much more casual attire. When I think of Melisse, the first word that comes to my head is "austere." When I think of Craft, the first word that comes to my mouth is "delicious."

      3 Replies
      1. re: djquinnc
        f
        foodiemahoodie Jul 11, 2013 02:15 PM

        Austere?!

        Lush, delicious, and decadent would be my take. And I've been there more times than I can count.

        Craft - about a dozen times. And always strong.

        Melisse is a fine-dining, haute cuisine experience. Have you ever had that experience? The staff can be elegant and formal, and like most restaurants on this sort if you want to give them cues to be more informal, they'll take them. That is, f you have a sense of humor and don't come off like a snob, they'll likely adjust to you. I have found this to be true at all restaurants of this sort around the world - in major cities. New York, Paris, London. But in the Provinces? Less so. Burgundy? More formal than Paris. (It's like they don't know they can loosen up or something). French Laundry? Elegant, formal, perhaps a little stiff. I can live with that (I go for the magnificent meal, not necessarily to make friends - but if that happens - great.)

        I would say if you haven't had that kind of dining experience - fine dining with all the fuss, pomp and circumstance doting over you - and you think that would make you uncomfortable, then you might feel that way. Or not.

        I had a group of friends I grew up with - and when "my ship came in" - I took them all out for a lavish meal. They were making jokes about everything, the size of the dishes, etc. They weren't ready for this. Many years later, they have changed dramatically. They're comfortable with it and enjoy putting on a suit or dress and engaging in the high life.

        1. re: foodiemahoodie
          m
          maudies5 Jul 11, 2013 02:31 PM

          Nice bit of writing, FoodieMH.

          1. re: foodiemahoodie
            d
            djquinnc Jul 12, 2013 10:34 AM

            On second glance, perhaps “austere” was a rather strong, and probably inaccurate, adjective to spring forth from my extemporaneous word association. It goes without saying that personal reviews of food are inevitably subjective, and “lush, delicious, and decadent” wouldn’t necessarily be my descriptors for Melisse either. Within my own dining experiences, “lush, delicious, and decadent” would accurately describe my meals at Alinea, French Laundry, and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare. And certainly, my experiences with the Chef’s menu at Providence and my recent kaiseki meal at n/naka prove that that level of fine dining is alive and well in Los Angeles. My meal at Melisse was more akin to my meal at Per Se. Very attentive service, if somewhat detached; beautiful food that tasted good, but not good enough for me to recall with any ease; pristine setting, but lacking a certain coziness.

            Back to my assessment of Craft, the main reason I have gone multiple times and will most likely go again is that the food is remarkably tasty. To reiterate, my experience at Melisse was indeed a good one. But at that price point, I am more likely to spend my cash elsewhere.

        2. e
          Ernie Jul 11, 2013 02:26 PM

          Mélisse is great, but as the others mention the experience is quite different and more formal than Craft. Although I enjoyed it, I would probably return to Craft before going back to Mélisse. Excellent food, service and surprisingly generous portions too.

          1. Gypsy Jan Jul 11, 2013 04:46 PM

            How would you compare/contrast the two restaurants to L'Orangerie?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gypsy Jan
              f
              foodiemahoodie Jul 12, 2013 01:24 AM

              In terms of food - prefer both to L'Orangerie. But L'Orangerie had a wonderful, old word fine dining glam to it. Beautiful, tall ceilings and those flowers.

              Food was always very good.

              Just more over the head crazy-delicious at Melisse.

            2. d
              Dirtywextraolives Jul 11, 2013 05:27 PM

              Melisse is definitely more formal than Craft. Both are absolutely delicious.

              Melisse is like a library - hushed tones, everyone on their best behavior.

              Craft is like a gentleman's study - more workmanlike, but you can roll up your sleeves, and still appreciate the Scotch, cigars and dirty jokes.

              24 Replies
              1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                l
                linus Jul 11, 2013 05:41 PM

                despite its name, i don't find anything about craft workmanlike -- either the food or the room.
                definitely not the place for scotch, cigars and dirty jokes. the atmosphere and clientele seem a touch sophisticated for that kind of thang.
                that said, the last meal i had there was a notch below the previous ones.

                and i'd rather drive a maserati than a ferrari.

                1. re: linus
                  ipsedixit Jul 11, 2013 05:47 PM

                  cheaper insurance and better mpg

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    l
                    linus Jul 11, 2013 10:09 PM

                    i would rather have a drink with a maserati driver than a ferrari driver.

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      TonyC Jul 11, 2013 10:20 PM

                      "cheaper insurance and better mpg"

                      now I've seen 2 of the worst excuses to own a Maserati, still a poorman's Ferrari (which, of course, comes in 4-doors now, just as Maserati comes in 2-doors).

                      While a shit-ton of CSA (a)gents may hold court @ Craft, it also does bridal showers and ... ta da, wedding. I don't know how prol that is.

                      1. re: TonyC
                        f
                        foodiemahoodie Jul 12, 2013 01:20 AM

                        I think you mean CAA.

                        1. re: foodiemahoodie
                          TonyC Jul 12, 2013 09:12 AM

                          haha! right. of course, I was looking for local farm shares while replying.

                    2. re: linus
                      d
                      Dirtywextraolives Jul 11, 2013 05:48 PM

                      It is full of agents, attorneys and their clients. Not sure how that couldn't BE anymore workmanlike, in my mind. It's a fancy place where a LOT of business gets done. And it's also not so formal that its easy to relax in after your meal. Hey in the end, it's just my perception.

                      And I'm a Mercedes McLaren SLR girl, myself......

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                        ipsedixit Jul 11, 2013 06:37 PM

                        Bah. Bullrings and a blown engine. All show and no substance. To top it off it's a 5 speed auto.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          d
                          Dirtywextraolives Jul 11, 2013 06:46 PM

                          A five speed auto?! That would make me happy beyond my wildest dreams...... For me, it's more about the class than the speed...

                          But if you insist on playing that way, I'll take a Lamborghini Veneno over your tired Ferrari any day......

                        2. re: Dirtywextraolives
                          l
                          linus Jul 11, 2013 10:08 PM

                          agents attorneys and clients work for a living?

                          i guess we have different definitions of workmanlike.

                          1. re: linus
                            d
                            Dirtywextraolives Jul 12, 2013 08:39 AM

                            Apparently we do..... Not sure how some who work 10-12 hour days is considered NOT working for a living..... Are we subscribing to some good ol' class warfare here?

                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                              l
                              linus Jul 12, 2013 08:56 AM

                              nope, just trying to have a sense of humour about what is essentially a silly argument.
                              i don't think describing craft as workmanlike is accurate, in menu, execution, service or clientele. the experience goes beyond "efficient competence."
                              alert the media.

                              1. re: linus
                                j
                                john gonzales Jul 12, 2013 10:37 AM

                                It's a silly debate, but I wouldn't describe Craft as "workmanlike" either. The food and setting are too ambitious for that, and that agents "work" their doesn't really meet my definition of the term.
                                Continuing with the silly, I'd say that Melisse is a Bentley/Rolls Royce. It's high-class yet not flashy in the least. To me Craft is a small notch below in absolute quality, has a liitle more verve, but isn't flashy either. So I'd call it a Mercedes. Ferrari/Lambo would apply to something edgier like Saam to me.
                                I prefer Melisse to Craft, though I like both. Someone above said that one can make of Melisse as they wish. I get accused of being a bull-in-a-chinashop but am not shy about doing as I'd prefer. I often wear a jacket at Melisse but not always, especially in the Summer. This is L.A., not London or Paris. I communicate to the server that I am casual and they DO seem to tone down the formality just a tad. I often have the tasting menu and tell them that I want it paced a bit faster than is their norm. In the end, while places like Melisse or Providence are more formal, they don't reach the level of some places in other cities, NY and Chi included.

                                To me the food quality at Melisse is great. I would also say that the ingredients are on par with Craft, and the preps can actually be more interesting. Melisse especially reaches heights with the tasting menues. I love the flavors at Craft, but to me it is a bit more on the comfort-food design.

                                I also prefer the room at Melisse. It is more unique in that the traditional, luxurious, quiet, well-spaced setting is much more rare these days. IMO, there are few places with the "Melisse" experience, and many more with the "Craft" experiece. If I am going to pay that amount for a meal I care almost exclusively about my companion(s) and the food, not the scene. In the end though, one is going to pay 30+% more to dine at Melisse.
                                Btw Craft is doing the dineLA menues this month, and Melisse is offering a four-course "anniversary" menu at a slight discount during weekdays in July.

                                1. re: john gonzales
                                  ipsedixit Jul 12, 2013 11:11 AM

                                  In many ways -- and I don't mean this in a derogatory fashion to either restaurant -- Melisse is an "experience" whereas Craft is a meal (a fine one, at that).

                                  A ride in a RR Phantom is an experience, a ride in a Maser is a ride (a sweet one, at that).

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    l
                                    linus Jul 12, 2013 03:13 PM

                                    hey man, i'm just going to say it:
                                    you're a maserati-ist
                                    you're an anti-maseratite

                                  2. re: john gonzales
                                    TonyC Jul 12, 2013 02:35 PM

                                    so is Craft's dineLA menu like Benz's lowly C-class?

                                    (rhetorical Q, it's not, but Benz's C-class is still... uhm... you know...)

                                    1. re: TonyC
                                      JAB Jul 12, 2013 03:48 PM

                                      Soon, it won't be the lowest in the lineup.

                                      1. re: TonyC
                                        ipsedixit Jul 12, 2013 09:36 PM

                                        No, it's the MB A-Class.

                                        (And, by the way, saying "Benz" is so, um, Chinese.)

                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          J.L. Jul 13, 2013 12:26 AM

                                          Did I mention I can walk to Sawtelle?

                                        2. re: TonyC
                                          j
                                          Jack Flash Jul 13, 2013 01:20 AM

                                          Actually, Craft is one place where you can confidently get the DineLA menu and not feel that you've been shortchanged. They take it very seriously. In fact, during DineLA, there are only a couple of menu offerings that aren't included in the prix fixe deal.

                                          1. re: Jack Flash
                                            j
                                            john gonzales Jul 13, 2013 01:24 AM

                                            Agree, they aren't dipping to A-class level. They're one of the few places that I feel doing the DineLa is a good choice. That said, tgis month's offering doesn't look quite as good as sessions past, though I;m sure it will be tasty adn I plan on trying it.

                                            1. re: john gonzales
                                              Servorg Jul 13, 2013 06:46 AM

                                              I just wanted to compliment you on your long post above about the differences between Craft and Melisse, John. I thought your analysis was "write on" and so well crafted it really stood out way above the rest on this thread. Bravo.

                                            2. re: Jack Flash
                                              TonyC Jul 14, 2013 10:54 PM

                                              It was tongue in cheek. I'm a big fan of Craft, and don't mean to imply anything they serve is less than whatever is best-in-class.

                                              Tho, if I had to, the happy hour is clearly the A-Class.

                                        3. re: linus
                                          d
                                          Dirtywextraolives Jul 12, 2013 12:54 PM

                                          Then if its a silly argument, why continue to debate it? Perhaps my choice of words are not what you would choose, so feel free to use your own, but why badger the point? I get the feeling the OP understood what I meant, even if you didn't.

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