Mélisse has distinguished itself as the sole top-end French gastronomic experience in Los Angeles. The elegant dining room is filled with beautiful white chairs, and a purplish-smoke tone shades the walls. Everything achieves a high level of quality, from the service to the food presented by chef Josiah Citrin and his culinary team, including chef de cuisine Ken Takayama. Being half French (on his father's side), born and raised in Venice (California) and partially trained in Paris, Citrin has integrated the two cultures to create his own modern melody with the choicest produce and herbs from the famous Santa Monica farmers market. A meal might start with a carefully crafted amuse-bouche, followed up with a first course of wild Japanese snapper, turnips, tatsoi and a truffle-lime vinaigrette. Liberty Duck pairs with red kale and blackberries, and a Banyuls reduction. Meanwhile, the great French restaurant tradition of tableside carving is carried on with dishes like the côte de boeuf for two. The format is prix-fixe, with menus of four courses ($135) or ten courses ($165), plus the chef's "carte blanche" menu ($275) and a special tasting designed for vegetarians ($135). Wines can be paired for an additional cost. You'd be remiss to pass on the wonderfully well-stocked cheese cart. Desserts may include a pineapple soufflé complemented by coconut sorbet or a Dulcey ganache tart served warm with praline Chantilly and dark chocolate ice cream. Your voyage through the comprehensive wine list will be made easier by sommelier Brian Kalliel, who will not only pour a Grand Cru Classé but also suggest something that's fun and a good value.