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We have been doing the TM's (w/pairings - of course!) around town for our birthdays... Dad's was at Spago, Hubby's at Providence and now me...
SONA? Opus? Melisse? what to choose?
My favorite so far was up North at Cyrus in Healdsburg - but both Spago and Providence were exceptional... I was all set on Sona until I started reading a lot of negs recently and am concerned it may be too incosistent...fellow foodies - what do you think? There will be 6 of us and we all LOVE great food and wine.

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  1. I'm saving up for Sona, myself. People seem to like OPus and Grace, though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Diana

      Had a wonderful tasting menu birthday celebration there last year. I wouldn't hesitate to go back.

      1. re: CynD

        at Sona? Have you eaten any of the others? (Spago,Providence, etc.?) How did Sona compare? It seems the restauarant was getting many more raves last year than rceently...

    2. Well, I know that a lot of people on the board don't like Sona much, but my tasting menu experience there was incredible. We went with the 9 course menu and I got the wine pairing. For almost all the courses we both got a different dish (except for the Fois Gras course!). Not every dish was the best thing I've ever tasted, but it was all very good and added up to a great evening!

      1 Reply
      1. re: CoffeeMonkee

        ^ ditto. I well and truly preferred the TM at Sona over Providence, esp the paired wines, which were outstanding.

      2. If not Melisse then how about La Cachette if you want to the do the French thing.

        Sona is a dangerous place to recommend because it is SO polarizing. Some people will love it; others will simply gack at the mere mention of its name. If you merely take Sona for what it is (e.g. a nouveau, cutting-edge place that oftentimes tries very hard to be different), then you might enjoy the meal. That said, regardless of what you think of the actual food, I consider Sona to be one of the more overpriced places in LA.

        1. Never said not Melisse - definitely a contender... Overpriced relative to quality?? I didn't think Sona was more costly than Spago or Providence - is it?

          2 Replies
          1. re: truefoodie

            Yes, in terms of both quantity and quality, I think Sona is overpriced vis-a-vis places like Spago and Providence.

          2. To be filed under Food-For-Thought - Well here's one more that I almost hesitate to suggest, as I did theirs 4 years ago and wasn't trilled with the food, but they apparently have a new chef and of course the best wine cellar in L.A. at:

            Valentino's - Santa Monica

            Maybe someone has tried theirs recently and can chime in with a thumbs-up?!?!

            1 Reply
            1. re: JBC

              We had an excellent tasting menu at Valentino for a recent birthday dinner. If you get there a little early, say 6:30, you pretty much get unfettered attention from Piero. We don't go there often enough to get it when they're busy.

              He's a great host, and the food was wonderful. If you do a search, you can find my previous post which goes into detail about it.

            2. I've always enjoyed the tasting menu at Grace and Spago, as well as Michael's in Santa Monica. Tonight is my birthday, so I'm going to try and squeeze myself into Jar or Hatfields.

              2 Replies
                1. re: truefoodie

                  Thanks. Just got back from Hatfield's. Report and pics to soon follow.

                1. choose Spago's tasting - Providence was overrated

                  1. I had a great meal (TM-chef's table) @ Providence.

                    You might consider Noe in the Omni downtown. They do wonderful tastings.

                    1. Post note - we decided to go to Sona & give it a try for ourselves since the reviews were so mixed...
                      upon being seated we were immediately told they had kobe beef at outrageous prices and that truffles could be added to anything for $65 -- a lovely way to start...the "hustle" was on... Next the waiter did a poor job of explaining that the tasting menu was all dishes NOT found on the menu by stating, "the TM is all off the menu" which sounded to us like it was just an assortment of selections from the traditional menu) After clearing up the miscommunication - thanks to the Sommelier who was going to help us plan our own TM w/pairings- since even after we commented that if it was all just off the menu anyone we might as well select our own TM (which in hindsight may have been the better move) we opted for their 6 course TM with pairings. There were some lovely courses but overall, I thought it was not nearly as good as Providence or Spago. The "premium" wines were 50/50 -- some quite good and others fairly terrible - but none were very exciting and all were certainly disappointing considering the price. Moreover, I felt rushed and courses were cleared and brought with little or no time to pause and savor -- at the end we knew why when we were actually asked to leave the table (although offered a free drink at the bar - but after 6 wines, who could drink?) so they could seat another party!! After spending $180/pp with a party of six...rushing to turn the table seemed rude. On the positive side, we asked about adding a cheese course and they brought one complimentary - which I might add was AWESOME! World class. Highlights of the TM included the salmon belly with sunchoke puree and the pork belly which was to die for...the desserts were also very good. Just to settle the score - we are going to Opus next weekend...

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: truefoodie

                        Hmmm. Sorry to hear about that. When I've gone, I've found the staff to be friendly and professional (maybe more on casual than uptight end of the spectrum, but that's okay by me). It sounds like the root of the controversy over Sona may be the inconsistancy of their waitstaff...

                        1. re: CoffeeMonkee

                          The Root for us is the FOOD! Service was good, food was disappointing after 3 visits , 3 chef (9 course) tasting menus, game over! Not even close to Spago, Providence, Melisse or Valentino.

                          1. re: russkar

                            I've never read anything that makes me want to visit Sona, not in a town when so many other great fine dining options are available.

                            1. re: russkar

                              Yes, the “experience” was lacking...but even if you just focus on only the FOOD, it was still not spectacular by any stretch -- in all fairness some courses were very good but it was not the one course more delicious than the next culinary ecstasy one hopes for when having this type of meal...and the sashimi style appetizers were not even close to as good as from our local Sushi joint (Omino - where sushi chef Jun - they have other chefs but not of his caliber - does a mean omakase menu... if you ever find yourself in the NW corner of the valley, go see him...I am going to cry when he finally figures out he deserves to work at a much higher end place)...anyway, just wanted to clarify that, in my opinion, although good it was not remarkable on any level - food, wine, service or ambience...and at these prices, good just doesn't cut it.
                              One more note - just FYI - they did the tsating tandem so men and women recv'd different dishes...of the 12 things we tasted, I would say about 4 were of the quality I would expect of all 12...and one of those was a dessert course!!
                              Last - if you do go, have the cheese!! ;))

                              1. re: truefoodie

                                We did the alternating Course thing also but it just wasn't great overall? I realize the Chef is talented but a congratulation letter( for what I'm not sure?) in the Men's Room from Thomas Keller doesn't make him TK by any stretch? For a few Duckets more we could have been at Urasawa(10 times better) or for a few duckets less we could have been at Spago or Providence and been much happier and fuller when dinner was finally concluded.

                                1. re: russkar

                                  While not a fan of Sona, I do think its biggest drawback is the price/quality ratio.

                                  If it was about 15% cheaper across the board, and if the staff lost its uppity attitude, Sona would actually be a great choice.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Actually we never have had a service issue or price concern. Just the food was boring and not great. I turned down a FREE Dinner there about 6 months ago with some friends, and I normally don't do that , ever?

                        2. Providence hands down, best tasting menu. Best restaurant in LA.