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Uni and truffles on toast.
Wonho Frank Lee

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LA’s Luxurious Melisse Reimagines the Modern Tasting Menu in Santa Monica

The two-decade Santa Monica staple returns with a more intimate space

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Santa Monica’s longstanding Melisse space starts a new chapter this weekend. Star chef Josiah Citrin’s 20-year-old white tablecloth fine dining staple is born anew, complete with an overhauled (but still very luxury) tasting menu and a colorful room more fitting of today’s modern food scene. Let’s take a look around.

The new Melisse sits inside of the same Santa Monica address as ever before, but now the bulk of the building is devoted to the chef’s namesake second project, Citrin. That a la carte space is brand new to the scene, and per the LA Times, features Citrin and chef Ken Takayama tackling what’s called “progressive California cuisine.” Think bar snacks, salmon with pink peppercorns, cocktails, and the like.

Inside all of that day to day dining is the decadence of Melisse, accessible by the restaurant’s original red door (there’s a doorbell to ring, too, naturally), and complete with only 14 seats and a tasting menu fit for the whole room at once. There’s king crab tartlets to start, uni and truffles, Hokkaido scallops, and wagyu strip steak slices. A sample opening menu is below.

An open fine dining kitchen with ingredients at the ready.
The open kitchen

There’s a cost for such luxuries, of course, in the form of a $295 per person ticket price and optional $195 wine (or non-alcoholic) pairing under wine director Matthew Luczy; general manager James Spencer runs the dining rooms. Like Citrin, Melisse’s open kitchen and dining room was designed by Dex Studios and Redford House.

Melisse returns with new vim and vigor on Monday night, with first evening seatings at 5:30 p.m. and a second turn at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations can be made on Tock. Meanwhile, Citrin is open nightly for a la carte service starting tomorrow, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Melisse/Citrin. 1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.

Two crab tarts on a fine dining circular white plate.
King crab tartlets
Golden beet cylinders at Melisse, a fine dining restaurant, in a shell bowl.
Golden beet cooked in whey
A fancy egg dish shows caviar, eggs, and uni.
Caviar, uni, scrambled egg
Strip loin section doused in sauce with greens on the side.
Wagyu strip loin
Scallops with light yellow sauce and green onions in a fine dining dish.
Hokkaido scallops with black trumpets
A fine dining space with open kitchen and colorful art on one wall.
A small fine dining restaurant with only 14 seats and mood lighting.
Fine dining plates and accoutrement sit on shelves.
A single table lit by pinlight in a fine dining room.
Luxury ingredients line a fine dining kitchen top.

Melisse Restaurant

1104 Wilshire Boulevard, , CA 90401 (310) 395-0881 Visit Website
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