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The BEST dining experience in LA for $100-150/person

Hello hello-

Long time no post.

I have a friend (read: ex that I am still crazy about) coming into LA for three days. We want to do a "fancy" dinner Sunday night. We were talking about doing a steakhouse (Nick & Stef's or Mortons), but I really would like to do something SPECIAL and MEMORABLE beyond "that was a really good steak". I want a meal we will still talk about a year from now- a start to finish experince.

So, hounds, help me out. Neither of us really drinks, so we can afford a spendy meal. I'm thinking $100-$150 a person without booze.

Keep in mind:
1. I'm looking for a whole experience- if the service or the atmosphere is off, I will be bummed. I don't need waiters in tuxedos, just attentive service, attention to detail and an intimate space.
2. The food has to leave me speechless
3. Romantic is a plus.
4. $200-$300 total food bill.

I live in Silverlake, and work in Century City. Anywhere from Pasadena to Berverly Hills would be GRAND.

I adore you hounds, littlemissbusiness

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  1. Well, sans wine, you can always do the tasting menu (or even maybe the Chef's Table) at PROVIDENCE given your price range.

    Or, you might try MELISSE and if you want a real unique experience, get the rotisserie chicken (for 2), served tableside, and then complement it with the appetizers and desserts of your choice. Of course, the chef's tasting menu at Melisse is also superb.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      As an aside about that chicken at Melisse, are they still using Ron Popeil's set-it-and-forget-it Showtime rotisserie? And still charging $80 for a chicken? I know, there are accompaniments, etc., but still.
      Don't mean to hijack the thread, just curious each time Melisse is brought up.

    2. Well, I spent much more than that at Melisse in Santa Monica for my boyfriend's birthday last year, but we had champagne and wine. I think you could get out of there for that price. Our food from the caviar to the fish to the veal was DIVINE. The restaurant itself isn't all that much to look at, but the food is wonderful!

      Link: www.melisse.com

      1. I don't think you could get the chef's table at Providence for that price. On weekends, they demnand at least 4 people, and prefer that on weekdays, too.Plus, at that table you get the chef's menu, which usually runs enough so that for 2 people with tax and tip you're looking at over $400.

        What about Bistro K in Pasadena?

        1. An dissenting opinion, but I think a super-expensive, fancy-pants dining experience with an ex sounds like it could be kind of un-romantic/too-fussy. Personally might go for slightly more moderate like Chateau Marmont, A.O.C. or Musso and Franks, but I would also be drinking...

          1. I have eaten at Nick and Stef's several times. It is very good meat, the sides are well prepared...but the overall experience is not what I think you may be looking for. The room is comfortable, but designed for an after-work/pre-theater crowd as opposed to special occasion. The food and service are good/very-good but not memorable

            5 Replies
            1. re: nyfoodjoe

              Exactly- I was saying NOT Nick and Stef's.

              $$$ is not the primary issue here. Atmosphere, amazing food, and overall experience ARE. If we spend $60 and it's amazing, so be it. If we spend $300, great.

              Think: Sumptuous, not fussy. Cozy and attentive over the deafening “place to be”. Belly dancers over tuxedos.

              Save me, hounds.

              1. re: littlemissbusiness

                You should be able to dine at the resturaunt at the Hotel Belair for your price range. It certainly has great service, a cozy atmosphere, and good food. On a nice night, dining on the terrace with a nice view of the fireplace is a great experience. The low noise factor at the BelAir makes it nice if you want to catch up with someone you have not talked to for a while. It is also a nice place to linger and stroll the grounds for a while.

                1. re: scrappydog

                  Yes - Hotel Bel Air is fantastic! Also have a drink before or after dinner at The Bar - very old school, dimly lit, with fireplace and piano player. I often go to the Hotel Bel Air just for drinks.

                  Mastro's has, imho, THE most mouth-watering steaks and fantastic service. This would be my first choice. The downstairs is quieter, upstairs can get a little loud on a crowded night.

                  La Dolce Vita also has outstanding service and what I think is great food (other people on Chow think otherwise). The booths are great, and they never ever rush you.

                  1. re: LisaStitch

                    I also love the bar at the Hotel Bel Air, and I agree that the setting is excellent, but I have to say, maybe I've just hit them on off nights, but the three or four times I've dined there, the food has never really bowled me over.

                    Also agree that the steaks at Mastro's are excellent, but don't think the setting is particularly good for a romantic encounter. (Although it is always nice to see older men taking their grand daughters out to dinner.)

                    1. re: David Kahn

                      Total agreement about the Bel Air hotel. If the weather is nice brunch on the patio is a great idea but our last two dinners there were nothing special in terms of the food or the service.