We celebrated KW's 30th birthday at Chef Josiah Citrin's Melisse and spared no expense.
The Carte Blanche for three, please.
Wine pairings? - Yes.
Truffle risotto? - But of course.
We took our seats at 7pm in a booth that had a special Happy Birthday card and box of homemade chocolate truffles.
The kitchen brought out exquisite plates of grapes covered with goat cheese and pistachios, along with spoons full of grape gelee that burst in the mouth.
Blue mackerel sashimi served with a light citrus salad was a nice tease, but the seared sea scallop with uni and roasted cauliflower in a sea urchin froth was a great way to start our meal of extravagance... and was one of the highlights of the meal.
Round two brought out rich caviar in a poached egg with lemon-chive creme fraiche - which was heaven in a little cup. You bet I scraped every little bit of egg out of that shell.
Next out came the artichoke soup with confit tomatoes and parmesan cromesquis (a savory croquette). Was pretty interesting to have the soup poured for me at table-side, but I enjoyed the smooth broth that warmed the palate.
The maine lobster in cippolinni onion chowder with geoduck clam and cuttle fish was tougher than we had anticipated, and thought it was a tad overcooked. Good thing for Top Chef - we all knew what geoduck looked like and the texture reminded me of abalone, a bit chewy and fishy.
Now when the staff brings out the gilded box of white truffles, ask for a closer look and take a deep whiff of the earthy goodness that they shave atop your risotto.
The foie gras cooked three ways was served with quince, blueberry and yuzu. My favorite had to be the seared liver as opposed to the cold cooked foie gras - the terrine or the mousse-like consistency.
At left was the braised partridge with celery in a light jus, and on the bottom right was another one of my favorites of the night - prime rib eye and braised wagyu beef cheeks with root vegetables in a red wine herb jus.
Then came a flurry of sweet desserts and palate cleansers - from the vanilla yogurt with strawberry compote and strawberry sorbet to the frozen passion fruit parfait with pistachi crisp in a coconut, lemongrass broth with tapioca pearls.
We ended the night with a platter of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate - with a chocolate souffle injected with more molten chocolate, a chocolate peanut butter crunch, a chocolate bon bon ice cream dipped in white chocolate, and a coffee parfait - all too decadent and way too rich to finish.
The one thing I have to say is for a group of three young ladies who chose to eat their way through 13 courses and drink through 10 different wine pairings over five hours of fine dining, I was a little disappointed that the Chef only came by once to say hello.
More saddening was the fact that our servers didn't always share the details of our meal with us. At times, we had to ask... "Excuse us, but what are we eating? What are we drinking?"
For the time and money invested for this birthday dinner out, I guess I was hoping for just a little more star quality. Maybe a special birthday wish from the Chef himself. Maybe a special toast with the Sommelier. Or maybe our names on some sort of hall of fame. (OK, maybe not the last one, but a girl can dream.)
In any event, the special night out was definitely memorable and one that we still can taste and envision - weeks later. It was an evening that was at least six months in the planning, and we're already getting ready for our next big birthday dinner in June 2011!
street: 1104 wilshire blvd, santa monica, ca 90401