Had a the carte blanche menu at melisse last monday, and it quickly became clear that Mr. Citrin was not in the house. Some of the dishes were wonderful-foie gras terrine with celeriac and black truffle was standout, but the seared foie gras, very nice by itself, was slathered with too much jammy sweet stuff (quince, maybe?). Other dishes were close but not quite on the mark. Lightly breaded and fried oysters with a black truffle puree was a nice idea, but lacked the punch fresh truffles should deliver. Lobster looked beautiful on the plate but was overcooked, and my claw still had the cartilage in it. And am I the only person in the world who wants smaller portions? It seems to me that in a meal of eight or more courses, there should be just a few bites per plate so that ones appetite is no too diminished when the weightier courses start to arrive. Halibut with leeks and favas in a white wine froth was fine, Dry aged NY with short ribs and shallot-bone marrow sauce was excellent, but by that time I was too full to enjoy it. I love the table service, and our server (can I say her name? well, it starts with an M) was fabulous. An older gent, who I mistakenly thought was the Maitre D'(sp?), seemed very put off by our presence-almost offended. The sommolier was exceptionally nice. Desserts sat basically untouched-a spoonful or two was all I could manage-again, too full. If our server and the wine fella were not so personable I probably would have complained, but I felt bad because they were so great. Anyway, I realize that I'm taking a risk anytime I dine on a monday because the chef will most likely be absent, but I for one do not find this to be an acceptable excuse. If the staff can't be left alone, then the chef needs to be there every night. Period. In closing, I know I am being very hard on the food, which was not bad by any means, I just know that they are capable of doing much, much better. The cost was about $300 for two with a $60 tip (did I mention I liked our server, whose name is the same as the last part of the name of the city in which the retaurant is located)and they properly waived corkage as I am always very generous with my wine (ex-waiter myself, don't ya know). For that kind of cash, however, I expected more. If I go back I'll opt for the shorter four course menu, which is too bad because I much prefer long and elaborate tasting menus. Oh well, I should have known better. It was a monday, after all.
That is all.
Peace and grub folks.