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Where to take an LA foodie in Sherman Oak or Encino?

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Need to meet some friends for dinner in either Sherman Oaks or Encino this Sunday night.
Usually I go over the hill to meet up with them. In the past we've dined at Grace, A.O.C., Patina, Lucques....you get the picture!

Any suggestions? They are majorly into wine and know their stuff. They are not so much into "ethnic" places (indian, thai, etc.). I'm just looking for some solid dining in a nice atmosphere.

Help! I need some ideas!

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  1. I say Max.

    http://www.maxrestaurant.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: Veggietales

      I know a few people who have actually enjoyed meals there but I had one of the worst meals I have ever had at MAX - service was horrible - wines were too - and the food was just so bad - it really is nothing like the fine restaurants you mentioned. I really think "when in the valley" - eat ethnic - if they are true foodies they should appreciate that - there is just nothing like those in these parts.

      1. re: howchow

        My one time at Max, the food was just ok and the service was terrible and it was cramped

      2. re: Veggietales

        For quality food and wine selection, Max and Boneyard Bistro are the winners.
        Mistral is not open on Sundays, even though their food is good but the wine list sucks. No better filet than Max, nor better bone-in ribeye than at the Boneyard.
        Boneyard's wine list is the better of the two, btw, assuming you like syrah, zinfandel, pinot. www.boneyardbistro.com for more details

      3. I think Max & Pinot Bistro are both outstanding. I've never had anything approaching a poor meal at either of them. For Sherman Oaks & Encino, they're as close as you can get to the places you mentioned.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rudy buci

          MAx and Pinot are just awful..how can you say that it's Foodie..it's more hypey

        2. i was actually a huge fan of boneyard bistro.

          1. I have always been disappointed in Pinot Bistro. In my very humble opinion, the Valley does have some very good restaurants, but not very "foodie" restaurants like AOC. It may have upped its game over the last year or so. Mezzomondo is very nice, great food and terrific service.

            1. I've always had a good meal at Mistral, really good bistro fare

              1 Reply
              1. re: rednyellow

                I'll second Mistral. Small, personable service and excellent food. They excell at beef tartare. Reasonably priced.

              2. Le Frite open on Sunday night?
                Or how 'bout Studio City.....Ca Del Sol or Barsac Brassierie?

                1 Reply
                1. re: jackattack

                  Barsac always delivers. I love that place.

                2. Does sushi fall under the undesired "ethnic?" So many good choices in that vein...

                  Maybe Il Tiramisu, certainly not a Grace or AOC, but still decent, as is Panzanella

                  Firefly is toward Studio City

                  Mistral

                  Bistro Gardens (chocolate souffle!!)

                  Mixed reviews on Risotto

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Emme

                    I second Il Tiramisu. Very nicely done, and great service.

                    What about Ca Del Sol? Or is it Ca Diario (I constantly forget)

                    Too bad they don't want "ethnic" or, at least, non italian-french-american palces. Some really good Indian and Japanese food is to be had there.

                    Boneyard Bistro has a great beer selection.

                    1. re: Diana

                      I third Il Tiramisu, $5 corkage, very good food, excellent service. Definately pay attention to the specials, we always tend to get them and have never been dissapointed.

                  2. I am writing with hopes to bring this post back alive for some more recent reviews/recommendations. Looking for a place for Saturday night with my uncle... want great food, good wine (or we can bring our own) ... nothing "ethnic" unfortunately... I don't think he'll go for that. The menu at Max looked like it would work, but the reviews on here have been really mixed. Anything better than mediocre in that neck of the woods? Thanks!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Ali B

                      I would go with Max. I've never been disappointed with their food & am actually surprised by some of the reviews here. I think the food is creative there; it has a bit of an Asian twist and some definite spice. If you like the menu offerings, I believe you'll be satisfied. And I've always found the room comfortable & the service just fine. I think the wine list is solid as well, but you should check it out; there's no problem bringing your own if you prefer. Also, if you're not worried about $$ and want to go in a different direction, I'd go to Asenabo.
                      And, despite naysayers, Pinot Bistro can be very satisfying. It's a lovely, comfortable space, excellent service & very solid cuisine. May not be the most inspired menu, but certainly tasty & satisfying. (You can see menu on-line as well). I think they still are no corkage as well if you want to bring your own wine.

                      1. re: Ali B

                        does italian count as ethnic? i like Oliva Italian on van nuys blvd. il tiramisu is good too, though it gets mixed reviews on here. another idea is Spazio.

                        1. re: Ali B

                          i ate at max about a month ago.
                          the food was good. to give you an idea, the food was not as good as jiraffe, but better than the grill at the miramar in santa monica. definitely much better than, say, madre's in pasadena.

                          1. re: Ali B

                            So, we wound up going to Pinot Bistro.

                            First of all, I called ahead to ask about BYO and they encourage bringing your own wine – no corkage fee! So that was a plus, in my opinion.

                            The ambiance is nice... nothing special, but there were enough people there that it felt lively, but not too loud.

                            I had the frisee salad with bacon and poached egg to start ... it was not bad, but I have had better versions of this salad before.

                            For my main course I ordered the short rib special. The meat was well-prepared, but it didn't wow me – the short ribs at Bandera are exponentially better. And they served it with bone marrow which was disgusting! I have never had bone marrow, but my boyfriend has eaten it many times and he also tried mine and said he had never seen bone marrow prepared like that before and that it was not good. My uncle, who is a surgeon, said it reminded him of surgery – gross!

                            My boyfriend ordered the farm chicken – it was pretty tasty, but it was pan fried in a lot of oil, so it was almost like eating fried chicken – good flavor, but undeniably fried. So if you’re trying to order the chicken to make a “healthy” choice, I would steer clear. The fries were good, too.

                            I will say the service was attentive and nice. We were waiting for our entrees for a WHILE... (Although it was a Saturday night and we had already had appetizers and drinks, so we didn't mind sitting and dining for a while... ) when they came out to tell us that they had an embarrassing incident with the chicken in the kitchen and they had to re-cook it .. Basically, they dropped the chicken on the floor when they were plating it... so they offered to comp our dessert and brought a drink or two on the house. It was really nice considering we were enjoying our conversation and we didn't complain or anything... to give an idea of how long we waited, it was a 3 hour dinner, which I think is pretty long for a place like that. Anyway, I give them a lot of credit for coming over and offering dessert – I think most places would wait for a complaint before offering anything. So, I give it positive marks for service (except for the whole dropping the chicken on the floor thing – but I guess accidents happen!).

                            Oh, and the bread pudding was pretty good – especially since it was on the house.

                            Overall, a pleasant experience and reasonably priced, but I would not choose to go back again. Food was mediocre at best and it's too far from where I live to make the trip back for mediocre food.

                            1. re: Ali B

                              Just my 2cents

                              PInot is hit and miss.

                              Bistro Garden is probably closer to what the posters are looking for. For a more laid back atmosphere - I haven't been in a while but cafe bisou is decent.

                              Panzanella is excellent. Pergola is fine.

                              Can't really help you on the encino side.

                              Of course, foodie in the thread title implies a bit more adventurous which would include asanebo which has excellent food and is by no means a hole-in-the-wall.

                              If it's nice chinaware, stemware etc. spazio can be fine as can the above-mentioned barsac and ca' del sole near universal city.

                          2. I say dump the wine, lose the class, and go with Stevie's on Ventura Blvd. It's a great, traditional southern comfort place with style. And I shouldn't say to drop the class, cause this place actually has tons of it. It's a beautiful building with great live music, amazing service and an awesome host --- 70yr-old Stevie himself.

                            Give it a try, it sounds like it'd be something of a departure from the norm with your crew.

                            -----
                            Stevie's Creole Cafe & Bar
                            16911 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316