After Melisse (the Santa Monica institution of French cuisine) shutdown last year, many folks were wondering how would Chef-Owner Josiah Citrin move forward. Then news came out that he’d remain in the same location, but reinvent the space, splitting it into 2 restaurants, a more casual Citrin and a tasting-menu focused Melisse.
We were curious about both spaces, but then the pandemic hit, they shut down and we never got a chance to try it. Melisse is back for Pickup or Delivery, in the form of a what they call “Melisse x Citrin Takeaway Meals” which are essentially Tasting Menus you prepare at home (that are mostly cooked).
The overall reheating wasn’t hard: They gave instructions to use either the microwave(!) or stove top / oven to reheat for a few minutes tops, which were easy to follow.
Kanpachi Crudo “Putanesca”, Tomato Capers, Parsley:
Outstanding! This was legit, super fresh, top Sashimi-quality Kanpachi (Greater Amberjack), bright, tender, yet with enough firmness. I loved the Tomato Vinaigrette which was extremely delicate and light, perfectly complementing the Kanpachi. Highlight.
Basil Brioche, RLM Butter:
There were no reheating instructions for the Brioche, so we ate this at room temperature. Even as is, it was very fresh, fluffy, pillow-like, excellent. The Basil infused into the cute Mushroom-shaped Brioche added just the right amount of herbal aroma, and the Rodolphe Le Meunier Butter was a great match.
Farro “Risotto ai Fruitti di Mare”, Shrimp, Scallop, Local Squid and Mussels:
We skipped any microwave reheating instructions (especially for seafood, which seemed suspect), and went with their stove top reheating instead, which turned out perfect.
The Farro Risotto was the highlight of the meal! Toothsome, not overcooked, the Farro grains made for a tasty (and healthier) version of traditional Risotto, the Shrimp, Scallops, Squid and Mussels were tender, bright and not overcooked (after reheating), a pleasant surprise. The overall flavors were of a beautiful oceanic wave over very good Risotto. (@PorkyBelly @J_L @A5KOBE @TheCookie and others.)
Lobster Bolognese, Capellini, Brown Butter Truffle Sauce:
While the Capellini Pasta turned out a touch too soft, this was still another delicious dish: The Melisse staff managed to create a crave-worthy “Bolognese” Sauce out of Lobster instead of Beef / Pork. It reminded me of a traditional Bolognese in terms of flavor, savoriness, richness, but with delicate morsels of Lobster instead, and the Truffle aroma and flavor came shining through.
Atlantic Halibut “Vongole Crust”, Eggplant, Porcini Mushrooms, Aged Garlic:
This was OK. Even following their reheating instructions exactly, the edges of the Atlantic Halibut turned out slightly overcooked (but warm-hot all the way through), but the majority of the Halibut was still moist and flaky, about a medium doneness.
Besides the overcooked edges, the flavor was fine, but didn’t really elevate the Halibut, tasting more like a covering Sauce as opposed to something really infused and complementing the main protein.
Peach “Crostata”, Verbena-scented Ricotta:
A striking visual presentation, the Peach Crostata with the gorgeous pink Peach Sauce and the spelled out letters for “Peach,” the actual Dessert was nice, but not mind-blowing. There were no reheating instructions for the Crostata, and after taking a bite, it felt like a toasty hot Crostata might’ve made for a more enjoyable experience.
But as it was, there was a beautiful Peach fragrance in each bite, and the Peach Sauce was delicious!
Overall, Melisse x Citrin Takeaway Meal format turned out to be a nice way to have a celebratory meal in the comfort and safety of your own home. At $65 for these 5 courses and Bread & Butter, it seemed reasonable, but more importantly there were 3 highlights that were definitely high end restaurant quality, with the Kanpachi Crudo, Farro Risotto (w/ Shrimp, Scallops, Squid and Mussels), and the Lobster Bolognese Capellini with Brown Butter Truffle Sauce.
Had the main protein (Halibut) turned out to be great, then this would’ve been a must-order experience, but perhaps it was just an off-day. Their menu changes every week or two, so be on the lookout for new themes to try (they did a Greek Islands tribute menu prior to the one we had).
Melisse x Citrin
1104 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA, 90401
Tel: (310) 395-0881