There’s a lot about Mélisse that’s a bit intimidating. The room is quiet and exceedingly luxurious. The service is formal. The menu is littered with ingredients such as truffles and caviar, with prices to match. But one thing about the place that isn’t nearly as daunting as you might imagine is the wine list. Sure, it’s encyclopedic, the product of years of expert curation and collection by recently departed wine director Brian Kalliel and his successor, Matthew Luczy (who has worked at Mélisse for years). If you want a bottle of $8,000 1988 La Tâche, you can certainly get that here. But the list is also surprisingly approachable and offers plenty for the value-minded. There are some lovely bottles of Premier Cru Chablis for less than $100, plus a large selection of half bottles and plenty of lovely full-bottle picks in the $30 to $50 range, which is a hard thing to find in any decent restaurant these days. Not only that, the staff provides the kind of wine service that feels like an exciting, giddy conversation about joy and pleasure. Which is exactly what learning should feel like.
Credit: Anne Fishbein