1104 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Critics' Pick

Photo by Anne Fishbein


  • Tue-Thu 6pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-10pm
  • $$$$
  • Banquet Facilities, Business Dining, Catering, Coat Check, Private Party, Prix Fixe, Vegetarian Friendly
  • Dinner
  • Full bar
  • Street Parking, Valet Parking
  • Reservations Accepted, Reservations Recommended
If you've been around the Los Angeles restaurant scene for long enough to remember Josiah Citrin as a surfer dude in the kitchens of Joachim Splichal, it may have seemed as if he was trying to create Mélisse as a Michelin-worthy restaurant by force of will alone, imposing luxury ingredients and luxury prices on a local public that seemed happy enough to eat its seared venison without the benefit of Christofle silver, velvet purse stools or airy sauces inflected with fresh black truffle. The cooking was always fine, but the effect was faintly ridiculous, like a teenager trying on his father's best sports jacket when he thinks nobody is looking. And the prices, now $105 for an all-but-mandatory four-course menu, would be high even in Paris. But Citrin grew into Mélisse; he wears it like a custom-fitted suit. His two Michelin stars are real. The truffled corn ravioli is a revelation. And his ­cuisine, which uses farmers-market produce and modern kitchen techniques without calling attention to itself, has shed most of its baby fat - the cassoulet of white asparagus with morels, the melting Copper River ­salmon and the ­butter-soft duck breast at a spring dinner all brought out the soulful essence of the ingredients in the least showy way imaginable.

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