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Help me Choose B'day Dinner w/Hubby

We live in South Bay so rarely get into "town," so I'd like this to be special, but don't want my husband to feel "taken." Providence, Hatfield's, Josie, Melisse, Lucques or...??? I've also wanted to eat at Peppone's for years. (BTW, we were very disappointed with Water Grill a few years back - portions were tiny, prices too high, food was nothing special.) Been to Spago, AOC and Angelini Osteria. I know most of these are very expensive, so which ones live up to the price and hype?

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  1. Hatfield's is amazing -- great food, great pairings. Atmosphere minimalist and a little cool with smallish tables -- but food-wise pretty grand.

    1. A group of seven of us enjoyed our overall dinner at Hatfield's a few months ago. Awesome service, great food, but not the kind of food I'm still thinking about and want to go back to right away.

      A place that I do think is special and serves extraordinary food is Josie. Every meal I've had there has been consistently top notch along with gracious service in a formal, but relaxed decor.

      Never eaten at Lucques for dinner, but my wife and I had a dynamite long lunch there during a rainy Friday afternoon.

      But, if I was in your shoes, I'd go to Providence. I've never been, but it always gets the highest reviews on this board and many other foodie sites.

      1. Any of the ones you mentioned would be great but, as a caution, the chef at Providence used to be the chef at Water Grill a few years ago so (depending on when you went to Water Grill) you might not care for what he is doing at Providence either--though his cooking is more cutting edge now than it was then. You might also consider Grace (on Beverly) and Vincenti (on San Vicente near Bundy). Peppone is nice in an old school way but, to my tastes, underwhelming

        1. Out of all those you mentioned, to be sure of avoiding disappointment I would go to Peppone.

          1. By taken I guess you mean you want someplace that has decent price, decent portion, great food?

            I still haven't made it to Babitas, but from the many positive reviews on this board for that restaurant why limit yourself to only to that part of "town"?

            1. New Trial, I was thinking the exact same thing about Water Grill's chef being at Providence. I'm thinking Peppone, even though it's old school...but it must be good to have survived for so long and still have people love it. If we do try Peppone, what should we order and what should we avoid?I once heard their pastas were great.

              1. You know... you can't go wrong with Campanile. Or Jar either. Oh and I just had an amazing dinner at La Terza.

                1. I'd put in a vote for Providence or Grace.

                  On another note, my parents love Peppone. I've never been all that impressed, but I think for them it combines a traditional Italian and romantic atmosphere with decent fare... I liked the mushroom salad especially, but not so much the cacciatore. Parents like the melon with prosciutto and meats like ribs and pork cuts. If you want an old school feel with more traditional Italian fare, try it some time, but don't go for your hubby's birthday if you're looking for innovative and wow-factor cuisine.

                  1. Consider Valentino if you like Italian. I would go to LaCachette for French (fine dining in non-whimsical portions, fresh market ingredients), or the Hotel Bel-Air for both fine food and a beautiful, romantic patio/garden. If you want an unbeatable ocean view, look into Geoffrey's. Or, for something different (game), but in a very romantic hunting-lodge setting, consider Saddle Peak Lodge.

                    Happy birthday!

                    1. Is it your birthday or your husband's? Melisse is the new standard for a special occasion restaurant. Josie is outstanding, but very busy, and a little more casual. Providence is outstanding as well. Not a fan of Lucques. And, I've not yet been to Hatfields.

                      It depends on the vibe you're going for. If you want something a little lively, I'd go to Cut or Mastro's. Also consider Capo in Santa Monica.

                      1. It's my birthday, but my husband doesn't want a "fine dining" type of restaurant. We don't eat game and love great fish and shellfish, Asian (not sushi), French or Italian.

                        1. I know I posted about finer dining restaurants, but my husband would prefer something a step down (but not in food). Atmosphere doesn't matter.

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                          1. re: di4cats

                            Perhaps Bistro K in South Pasadena might fit what you're looking for. It's a very small restaurant, usually one waiter or so, but the French food is extraordinary (and some dishes are very creative, but in a good way!). Most people rave about not just about the innovative flavors and foods, but also the unpretentious nature, the low price, and BYOB.

                          2. You know what might fit the bill: Mimosa on Beverly just west of Fairfax. Country French bistro, not pretentious, affordable and good food. I like the pate, the crusty bread, the atmosphere. The host is also quite warming; he used to give you a nice glass of champagne if you had to wait for your table, which always helps get the party started.

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                            1. re: Silver Lake Guy

                              We had our anniversary dinner at Grace and really felt that it was a special place -- though pricey, it is worth it and a place I also rec to my vegetarian friends because they always have a veg entree that seems (at least to me) to be thoughtful and unique. Lucques to me is not all that special and the service can be spotty -- but Grace is pricey so be prepared (I think we spent about $250 for 2 -- but we got the works). I haven't gone to Providence because seafood, for me, is diet food and since I'm constantly dieting, it's not something I want to splurge on (my skinny husband disagrees and loves seafood -- oh well). Oh, and Grace is very L.A. -- if that means anything to you, but sounds like you want the "L.A. experience" and you can do an easy jaunt to the Grove for a movie or something. But if your dinner is with a bunch of people, you may want to reconsider as it is pricy.

                            2. For special occasions, especially for those romantically involved, my first suggestion is always Grace. Very classy decor, great food, top notch service, it's the total package. The price is off-putting to some, but I've never walked out of there feeling like I've been gypped (and in fact, I'll leave a generous tip to boot, too).