Melisse French Cuisine + Restaurant | Santa Monica, CA

New look; same exquisite French focus

The city is rife with everyday restaurants, so it's nice to know there are still places like Mélisse for special occasions. After 10 years–and with a new, more contemporary look–the Santa Monica mainstay is as elegant as ever.

With its stylish white leather chairs and purple walls, the room is no longer staid or stuffy. But this isn't to say service has gone by the wayside–jacketed staff still instinctively know what you'll need when you need it, without being intrusive or overbearing.

Chef Josiah Citrin has always worked closely with local farmers to find top-quality seasonal produce. It's most apparent in the summer, when he offers an entire tasting menu ($105) based on heirloom tomatoes–perhaps including a golden tomato tart with a minty basil mousse, or a refreshing green zebra tomato gazpacho. French technique is still paramount, from the silky poached egg served in its shell with lemon-chive crème fraîche and osetra caviar ($45) to the classic côte de bœuf for two ($96), with sumptuous sides like a potato leek tart.

For Mélisse's 10th anniversary this month, look for the special 10-course tasting menu comprised of Citrin's most popular dishes. It's $150 per person, which includes a $50 gift card for your next visit–happy birthday to you, too.

Mélisse, 1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-395-0881 or