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50th birthday with my sisters in LA...dinner?

  • l

My sisters (they are babies, only 40 and 45:)), are taking me out to dinner in LA Saturday night. I live in the Bay Area, so I get to eat pretty well most of the time. However, I don't get the big city edge feeling of LA. For all I love my home town, glamorous it just ain't..

So, I know you all get this question as often as we get the "What is the best Chinese restaurant in Chinatown (answer, it's in Daly City), so sorry to throw out the old chestnut, but it's hard to search for.

If you were a 50-year old woman described, as "pretty, but showing signs of aging", (good friend, can you believe it?), and you were going out for one night in LA, and you were staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and you were going out with your similarly featured sisters one of whom is 6 mo. pregnant, and you tended to like most kinds of food, where would you go if you wanted to get that jolt of LA caffeine, and eat well, and pay a price that was value-based, i.e. if it's expensive because it's fabulous and the restaurant is beautiful OK, but expensive just for expensive no thanks.

I lived in Manhattan in the 80's. I guess I am looking for that moment where you sit in a restaurant, and the food is really good, and the environment is killer, and you think, this is it. This is where it, whatever it is, is happening.


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  1. Cut at the Beverly Wilshire, if you can get a reservation.

    1. AOC or Lucques would be my recommendation -- a bit of LA scene, a bit of high quality food, a lot of high quality farmers' produce, and the price points are not insane, compared to other major cities around the globe.

      You'll eat for the fraction of the cost that you would at Cut. Of course, it seems like Cut gives you an amazing meal, but I'll take two or three meals at AOC instead of the one meal at Cut.

      1. AOC, Grace or Norman's.

        1. OK, I checked Grace. Looks like it is a lot of duck, pork, boar etc. I would say we are not in the camp of eating the more outre proteins. More a fish/vege/beef group. I know, I know, boring but I have never liked to eat innards either.

          Now I will look at AOC:). Thanks for the info.

          1. It isn't as red-hot as Cut is right now however Providence is just about as awsome as it gets.

            1. THE restaurant in Los Angeles is Providence. Known for seafood, on Friday I had wonderful pork belly, white truffle pasta, great New York steak and tofu marshmellows with dried wasabi pea. The deserts are unique and especially good.

                1. Providence sounds good - is the foam ubiquitous on the menu? And I confess, do famous people eat there? Yes, I too want to see movie stars for my 50th birthday, I suppose to mark that you aren't getting older you are getting shallower...On to the festivities!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LPC

                    Spago has great food and star gazing too.

                    Steven Spielberg is a regular at Matsuhisa. I think Matsuhisa has good food, maybe not the best Japanese place in L.A., but you could do a lot worse than Matsuhisa.

                    1. re: LPC

                      With the star gazing added to the menu, I'd pick Spago, and see about the tasting menu. Spago is still really good; you occasionally see negative comments but imho much of that is because it is so familiar to LA foodies, having been around for awhile.

                      And then if no stars happened to be at Spago, I'd wander a couple of blocks over and see who the paparazzi have staked out at Mr. Chow's. Bewteen the two, you ought to see someone -- but I'd forgo eating at Mr. Chow's.

                    2. If you want to see celebrities, follow the paparazzi. The restaurants with the most paparazzi out front are:
                      Koi on La Cienega
                      The Ivy on Robertson
                      Mr. Chow on Camden
                      none are great food, all are fun.

                      1. SONA on La Cienega Blvd. , if you want westside buzz (minutes from hotel). The tasting menu is very good. Check out the various threads.
                        In my opinion the food at PROVIDENCE is far superior though.

                        1. Since you'll be in Beverly Hills, first choice is Spago for the vibe. And the chances are Herr Puck will make an appearance at your table.

                          But if I were you, I'd book at table at Lucques. It's unbeatable for food that is simple, very well cooked, and good value. And it does have a little sense of New York in the 80s (I mean that in a good way!)

                          Have fun,

                          - Sean

                          1. SPAGO, and I suggest making a reservation now.

                            1. My goodness. I had no idea Spago even still counted. See, I told you we are NOT glamorous up here in the Bay Area....

                              My sister is going to see if the concierge at the BHH can get us a reservation.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: LPC

                                The concierge can get you a reservation. But do try to get to Lucques while you're in town. It really is a wonderful place, with great food.

                                Have a ball!

                                - Sean

                                1. re: LPC

                                  Spago counts. It would be first choice for scene and quite high on the list for food. (Don't choose the Asian options). It is also a short cab from your hotel.

                                2. Go for the memorable experience, not just the food.

                                  The Restaurant At the Getty

                                  1. My take -
                                    if it's all about the food, go to melisse in santa monica. the food will be great, the setting a bit crowded, I think it's great but more for the food talk night than the pleasant birthday.

                                    if it doesn't have to be cutting edge - i say reserve a table at the patio at michael's in santa monica. have them know it's your birthday and you'll like a pretty and quiet table. near a heater. it's almost november. it's been years since michael's was THE place but it's still excellent, it looks like people think a late 20th century nice LA place looks, the food andwine are great and i still like it for the special occasion.

                                    if it's all about scene and the view and all that - noe is the place with the city view and the oh so 5 minutes ago in paris combinations of foie gras with sweets and foam reductions and deconstructed food. not for me really but it's a look.

                                    also consider drinks and stuff at the hungry cat in hollywood.

                                    michael's is in santa monica just north of wilshire.
                                    noe is downtown in the omni hotel
                                    melisse is in central santa monica.
                                    for celebrities for the price (decent food) i've seen most at drago's in santa monica.
                                    for an adventure and a fun evening, also consider saddle peak lodge in malibu. make sure a local drives. (good food as well)

                                    1. Dad and his wife live in the Midwest, and she was always wanting to see some stars. We ate at Spago a couple of years ago. As we were seated, she asked the hostess if anyone notable was there, and she was told to "keep an eye" on an empty table next to ours. Voila, ten minutes later a party of four with Sly Stallone sat down! She also passed a notable matriarch from Dynasty(?) on her way to the ladies room. Oh, the meal was good too, but the stargazing definitely solidified my share of the inheritance.

                                        1. Reporting back.

                                          Went to Spago. It was great. And, on the way in, saw LaToya Jackson. Pretty mediocre sighting but hell, we sure don't see her in San Mateo:). Really also liked the family feeling there, kids were around, grandmas, fancy Asian couples, three middle aged blondes (oh yeah that was us...), industry moguls.

                                          Food - I had crab cakes, foie gras, and the boullion. Delicious. Crab cakes had lumps of sweet and juicy crab in a well-seasoned and not too seasoned base. Foiegras was foie gras. And that vegetable clear soup was one of the best things I have had.

                                          Sisters had beet salad, which they loved, and quail which they thought the reduction was too salty. Then had some dessert with an Austrian name which I don't remember but it was good.

                                          And finally, we stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel and had Sunday brunch there. I have never had such delightful service in my entire life. Also saw Chevy Chase. When you are middle-aged, that counts as a real sighting:).

                                          Thanks all for your help!

                                          1. If you're still in BH, afternoon tea at the Pennisula Hotel just around the corner from you is also fun for a ladies lunch out. :) Happy B-day!