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Restaurants & Bars 10

disappointing service at Melisse

john gonzales | Oct 19, 200212:38 PM

My wife and I went to Melisse to celebrate her birthday. I told them of the occasion when I called. My wife is in the wine/restaurant business; and a friend of ours (who is the same and knows some of the people at Melisse) made a subsequent call.
We arrived and were seated promptly in the very nice room, about 2/3 full. We brought a bottle of wine from our cellar and also asked for the wine list with our menus. Fifteen minutes after sitting our cocktail order was finally taken. Then we sat for another 25 minutes without being spoken to. Bread arrived at the 40 minute mark. We finally asked the waiter about the cocktails at the 45 minute mark, to which he replied he ordered them and thought someone else had brought them. Off he went to the bar, after taking our dinner order, as I asked him to open the bottle of cab we brought to breathe and ordered a half-bottle of pinot. Close to ten minutes later they arrived. (perhaps having never been ordered or made)at close to the 55 minute mark. My wife's cocktail is not the brand she ordered so is sent back, with the replacement taking another ten minutes. With the drink he opens the wine. Its a 91 Whitehall Lane Morisoli Cab. The waiter (we never saw any sort of wine steward) doesn't look at the wine to perhaps notice its age or the cork before cranking in his lever pull with little finesse and obviously not far enough as he yanks and sends the top 60% of the cork flying in shreds. He starts at the remainder with the leverpull and I ask him if he wants me to have a look. He says "no, someone in the back has one of those two-prong things" and takes off with the bottle. We have a glass of pinot (in very nice stemware). Ten more minutes and her comes our wine in a decanter. Now I may be a wine geek, but still feel that all of this should occur at or within eyeshot of the table. (I will say that it most likely was the wine we brought) Ahh, the first course of the five arrives at the approx. 1hr 10min mark with the decanted wine. At this point the table next to us is ballistic with the waiter and manager as they sat just after us, ordered ten minutes before us, yet also hadn't received their first course by the 1 hr mark. We had not majorly complained but tried to make a few hints to the waiter that things were going very slowly.
The rest of the meal came much faster almost too fast, though we were fine with that having waited so long to get going. All in all 3 courses plus cheese and dessert took 3hrs 25 min. Tab with one drink each, cheese for one, a half bottle ($33), plus corkage was $238 before tip.
I will say that most of the tasting menu was excellent. Foie Gras, Lobster thermador, monkfish were stand-outs. The cheese plate was excellent, but not really better than other top restaurants. My beef was very good, par for the price. Dessert was not as good as some other top spots.
All in all, a pretty disappointing experience for the occasion and pricetag. Without the service problem the meal would have been good. For the money I largely prefer Patina, Josie, Hotel Bel Air, Spago. With the service problem, the experience was a downer. My first, and if given the choice last meal on my dime at Melisse.

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