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From the outside and inside, Melisse looks like one giant white linen napkin. But despite the monochromatic design scheme, waiters in fancy suits, and dramatic at-table dish reveals, this Santa Monica staple is still a shockingly fun experience. If you’re looking to blow it out and treat Christmas Eve like the once-a-year occasion that it is, their $175 pre-fixe menu with everything from foie gras terrine to black truffle risotto will not let you down.
Melisse is one of the finest restaurants in the city and you’re gonna pay for it. One truffle egg will set you back a cool $95 and that hurts. Does said egg come with an engagement ring from Tom Hardy? Not most nights. But the point remains that whether or not Mad Max gets down on one knee, this two Michelin-starred French restaurant is something you must experience at least once in your life and credit cards exist for a reason.
Nothing about Melisse is cool. This 20-year-old, tasting menu-only French restaurant in Santa Monica doesn’t have shared plates, a converted warehouse space, or HBO actors flirting at the bar. What it does have, though, is incredible food, sommeliers in suits, and an atmosphere that lets everybody be as fancy as they damn well please. That said, Melisse is hardly some stuffy time capsule. People speak at normal volumes, the waiters have clearly practiced plate choreography, and everybody gets excited when the champagne cart gets wheels out.
Being at Melisse feels like you’re eating at a restaurant in Paris in the 1920s, except instead of authors and surrealists, you’re surrounded by studio executives and Instagram models who are about to get proposed to. The space is all white tablecloths and heavy chairs, where you sit and enjoy an expensive prix fixe French menu. The food comes in ridiculously small portions, but the good news is it’s all really excellent and unlike any French food you’ve had before.
If your occasion calls for white tablecloths, servers folding napkins practically like origami, and a fancy French tasting menu, you should be eating at Melisse. They have two private rooms excellent service.
Capacity: 16 and 32
Melisse is the OG of the Santa Monica white-tablecloth fine dining establishments and serves appropriately fancy French food. And by fancy we mean expensive: a four-course meal here will set you back at least $135 and the tasting menu option will put even more of a dent in your pocket. Despite the stuffy facade, the food here is great, and the atmosphere is more fun than you’d expect.