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Josie, Melisse, Blue Velvet or Sona

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Which would you pick for a blow-out birthday dinner? Or are there other places I should consider for fancy occasion meal w/ good atmosphere, innovative cooking and, ideally, a tasting menu. (But not Hatfields, Providence, AOC, Angelini's Osteria, Grace, Campanilie, Angeli's or Saddle Peak 'cause I've already eaten at these places -- or Mozza which isn't quite right and where I can't get reservations in time -- but have reservations for later and v. looking forward to trying).

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  1. I'd add Grace to the list.

    1 Reply
    1. re: djdebs

      Thanks for responding. Love Grace! Meant to include that among places I've eaten at (a lot!!!). One of my faves.

    2. Vincenti, Valentino, Spago and Mako are worth adding to your list.

      2 Replies
      1. re: New Trial

        Thanks. In any particular order?

        1. re: bite bite

          For my tastes, among those four, for a blow-out, it would be Spago, Vincenti, Valentino and Mako. If you wanted to add your original four into the mix, my order of preference would be Spago, Melisse, Vincenti, Josie, Valentino, Mako, Sona, Blue Velvet. The aesthetics of the last three come into play here, as well as service issues at Blue Velvet.

      2. didn't really care for sona...never been to the others

        2 Replies
        1. re: rickym13

          Doesn't seem to be a popular choice. What didn't you like about it out of curiosity?

          1. re: bite bite

            it wasn't bad by any means...it was just ok for $$$. i think we had tasting course and bought one bottle of peter michael sauv blanc and took one bottle of cab.
            cost was over $700 for 4 of us! the bottle cost was $60+/-?
            too many better places for the price and thought that the place was little too trendy/pretentious imo

        2. Out of the four, Melisse is the highest end and most refined dining experience with incredible food. If that is what you are looking for. I just tried Blue Velvet today, albeit for lunch, and it was good, a few service glitches, but not bad. Blue Velvet seemed to be a shade on the more casual side. Beautiful room, very trendy/chic. Josie also has excellent food, but it is still more casual than Melisse... don't get me wrong, both Blue Velvet and Josie are fine dining, just a little on the casual side. I would not recommend Sona at all... best case it is highly inconsistent, worst case, you will have a bad meal.

          Your choices are a bit varied. Hopefully this brief description help narrow it down some? Are you looking for more casual or more refined/high end? Tasting menu or a la carte?

          2 Replies
          1. re: woojink

            Thanks woojink. This was very helpful. Definitely looking for high-end/refined for this meal. Tasting menu ideally with good pairings. So of my four, sounds like Melisse is the way to go. Have you eaten at Vincenti, Valentino, Spago and/or Mako? How does Melisse stack up?

            1. re: bite bite

              Anytime. Melisse stacks up very, very well to all of the above. Been many times.

              Nearly every time I've been to Melisse, we get the Chef's Carte Blanche tasting menu... completely chef's choice. We usually bring some wine and buy one or two bottles from the house, but I have done their pairings and they do a very nice job with them. The Chef's Carte Blanche tasting menu with the wine pairings at Melisse is a great bet, and should be an excellent, refined, high end dining experience.

          2. Josie is one of my favorites but it doesnt have a tasting menu.... Sona can be very good but Spago is always great.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kra81

              i would also second spago and valentino. we had great tasting course at valentino but that was years ago.
              did new matsuhisa open? i had a great tasting menu at their old location on la cienega.

            2. Melisse is phenomenal! I have done the carte blanche tasting menu which has been fabulous. I enjoy offering it up to the chef. Josie is also a favorite & as someone else pointed out they do not have a tasting menu but I have had her create one for me in the past. I'd just call ahead of time & ask. Sadly, I have had just ok meals recently at Valentino so I can't give them the best recomendation but I have had stellar meals there in the past. I wouldn't risk it though.

              Enjoy!

              1. Thanks everyone for your postings. Nice to have such a comprehensive list of go-to special occasion places -- now just have to come up with a lot of special occasions so I can have excuses to try them all. So anyway, after all this Mr. Bite Bite has his sights set on Sona. It's his birthday, so obviously it's going to be Sona. (With Melisse for the next special occasion -- which hopefully I'll work up some excuse for soon). At least I'm prepared and at this point it can not really be much worse than I'm expecting. Also must admit to a burgeoning morbid curiosity around the experience -- so I will definitely post and let everyone knows how it goes.