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Fine Dining Melisse Space Goes Casual, But Will Keep Tasting Menu Experience

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Josiah Citrin is re-thinking things

Josiah Citrin stands in a chef’s coat, arms crossed.
Josiah Citrin
The Line Hotel

20-year Westside fine dining legend Melisse is getting closer to its big second act. The Josiah Citrin restaurant closed at the end of last year with plans to change things up, and now the future is beginning to come into focus.

Back in December of 2018, Citrin announced plans to pull the plug on the white tablecloth restaurant that had stood for two decades. He cited changing times, demographics, and dining needs as reasons for the update, along with a desire himself to offer something new to his longtime Westside patrons. The space itself was, at least briefly, in danger of going away altogether, though Citrin was able to hold on to the address before undergoing renovations.

The new-look Melisse will actually split into two separate concepts under one roof. The first is to be named Citrin, and will open as an a la carte dining experience driven by California seasonality and Citrin’s connections at the iconic Santa Monica farmers market. That means less fussy food, and more shared plates for all in the open, brighter (and larger) dining room. There will also be an included bar area with its own seating, where diners can sip cocktails and have dinner.

Second up is a rethinking of the original Melisse (and with the same name). Expect that to be an intimate semi-private dining space within the larger property that will still focus exclusively on a tasting menu format. The reduced-size experience will offer the same level of food and service as at the original Melisse, but is meant for an even more intimate evening.

As of now, Melisse and Citrin are tracking for an October debut, though nothing is set in stone. Meanwhile, Josiah Citrin continues to cook at Openaire in Koreatown, Charcoal in Venice, and at the limited-time-only spot Dear John’s in Culver City.

Update: Citrin has now decided to keep the name Melisse for the tasting menu portion of his restaurant, and use Citrin for the casual a la carte experience.

Melisse. 1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA.

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