Thursday, November 5, 2009

Short Dresses

Short Dresses

I've written many 5 star reviews, well precisely forty-six 5 star reviews as of now. Obviously I am capable of enjoying various restaurants in LA, yet I rarely go back to any of those 5 star restaurants. Why? I want to try new things. I just want to see the world of new food, flavor, ingredients, cooking techniques, style, etc, even if it means within the small radius of LA. I mean, how can you be happy with going back to the same old restaurant over and over? I know I have a horrible attention span when it comes to restaurants.

Then this place, Chez Melange. It was more than a year ago when we stumbled across to this cute little French restaurant on a whim. We happened to join their last night at their old location before they closed for few weeks for their relocation. We were treated as if we were one of their oldest, most loyal customers there by the manager Daniel and the server. The food and service both made a fabulous impression on us that we went back to the newly relocated Chez few months later. I press it again here; It is extremely rare for us to WILLINGLY go back to the restaurant for the second time, no matter how great the experience was. Meaning, yes we go back to some random restaurants time to time, not because we are eager to go back there, but because of various social situations/obligations that puts us back there. Chez, we went back, eager to try and validate our experience again. And I'm glad we did.

"French restaurant + white table cloths + nice wine list" might intimidate some people. I'm one of them. The unspoken expectation of wine knowledge, table manner, and the worst of all, the ability to pronounce all those weirdly French-ie words on the menu puts a huge pressure on me. I'm horrified that I may have to resort in the point-to-the-menu-item-and-say "I'll have one of these" tactic and hope to god that I don't make a fool out of myself. Chez Melange however takes all the nerve-wracking aspects away. Friendly owner Michael and the manager Daniel will go around the tables, greet each customer to show the warmest welcome, and the staffs are well taught and are more than happy to suggest food and drinks according to your likes.

And this place is not just the friendly nice restaurant. They actually serve fantastic food. The unfortunate part of this review is that what I've been eating there is not on the current menu anymore. They are very keen on having seasonal ingredients and their menu is constantly changing, except for few core items. I can brag about how juicy my Georgia peach shrimp salad was, or how nice and plump the crab stuffed shrimp wrapped in prosciutto were, but that would be mean, wouldn't it? I can tell you though, their foie gras is always seared perfectly. Their sweetbreads are so rich in flavor with just the right hint of organ-meatiness. Their cheese plate is filled with amazing selections of different cheeses (which I always ask the server to pick out for me as I don't know what to choose) with nice fruit/jelly/honey additions.

They also have an amazing brunch menu that I just recently tried for the first time. Their Manny's Eggs (Scottish smoked salmon, poached eggs, potato latkes, caper hollandaise) was truly the best, I mean honestly, THE BEST egg dish that I've ever had in my entire life. The perfectly poached and runny, beautiful eggs on top of the perfectly crispy shredded potato latka with perfectly seasoned hollandaise sauce, smoked salmon, and capers. We must have finished this dish within 3 minutes, and during that oh-so-short 3 minutes, all we had to say was "MMMMM!!!!!" "mmmm!" "" "mmmm... mmm..." "mmmmmmm..." And their Brioche Sandwich (banana, nutella, bacon, ricotta cheese) was another major MMMMM!!!! I am normally not a huge fan of sweet and savory mixed together, but this one went so well all together: Creamy, rich, sweet, salty, soft, buttery, dripping, licking fingers... Ahem.

Every visit, they WOWed us with something new. It showed no signs of deterioration, boredom, or routine, and that made us extremely happy and our curiosity was satisfied each time. It's easy to say this, but really, I know plenty of restaurants that have the same old menu for ages and the only reason why people go there is to have their one and only favorite dish. You may be able to WOW people once, but to continue to do so is extremely tough, hence we rarely ever go back to the same restaurants. They've also recognized us by our 3rd visit, and now we feel like Chez is like our uncle's dining room where our likes are known, our life is of their interests, and we are fed with the warmest hospitality.

Good people, good atmosphere, good food. Chez is truly amazing in every aspect. This is why it's one of few (well actually only 2) restaurants in LA that we frequent. And on the personal note, this is why my then BF decided to propose to me there so that we can celebrate our special day every year, growing old with this place.


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