Date with the wife
I need some opinions. I am taking my wife out on a date. Long past due but with two very little kids, hard to really get away for a nice and romantic dinner. Well Friday night is the night and I am looking for a really nice place to take her. She likes all kids of foods and so do I. I am looking for some place with great food and a nice atmosphere were we can just talk and well be romantic.
I would like to go to something that is not Asian, since that is basically old stand by when we do go out with the munchkins. Thinking about Providence, Spago, or even Ursawa (she has always wanted to go back- I know it is ASIAN).
Location is not really an issue (Have car will travel)....but do remember it is a Friday night and I would hate to be stuck in traffic for hours. I like in the San Gabriel Valley area if anyone is interested.
Any suggestions based on recent visits?
Having made an institution of a weekly date night with the wife for the past ----- years, I would recommend the following in the San Gabriel Valley area:
Bistro 45 in Pasadena - reliably intimate if you specify a table along the wall but away from the speakers; if you're into wine, all the better.
Maison Akira - ask for a table near the fireplace and get one of the several prix fixe dinners.
Maddeline's on Green St in Pasadena - go during the week and you will have the place to yourselves. Fireplace, plush booths, decadent food - limited classical menu. You can have your pick of hundreds of wines from the wine bar. Doesn't get much more romantic, though it's a little eerie being so alone at times.
If you're made of money and value atmosphere over substance, the Ritz Carelton Pasadena Dining Room is ok, but I always leave feeling a little shortchanged. Get one of the booths along the wall and you can sit next to your honey - a romantic change.
Briganti in South Pas - nice service with reliable Italian standbys. Everything seems special here, although the food would probably not stand up to dispassionate analysis.
Arroyo Chophouse in Pasadena - big city ambience with flawless service. It can be very romantic if you are into the New York steakhouse scene.
Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle Rock - over the top young French-speaking waiters with wonderful butter based food. Maybe a little noisy, but you won't get much closer to your romantic student days in France than here.
A little further in Glendale - Far Niente on Brand. The only grown up Italian place in the area. Comfortable room, classic Italian served with a professional flair, lots of Valentino's-like specials. A gem.
Places to avoid: Raymond Restaurant - nothing romantic about it and nothing great about the food. Dozens of posts on this board notwithstanding.
Parkway Grill - too slick for comfort; from the "what kind of water" to the "bread?" turning into expensive foccacia preparations, this place will leave you wondering if they left you your pants when you leave.
Casa Bianca - how much will you put up with for a crunchy crust pizza at a good price? Would you wait on the street for an hour? Would you sit in a sweaty packed anteroom for an hour? This is a date place for people who don't like their dates.
I had a great romantic dinner at Via Veneto recently. Small, bustling, candle-lit Italian restaurant in Venice. The food is fantastic, and while the service has gotten mixed reviews, I found everyone to be wonderful, nice and very accomodating, actually some of the best service I've ever experienced. And did I mention the food was AMAZING? Just make sure you have a reservation.
Geoffrey's in Malibu is also very romantic. The food is good enough, but the view is spectacular. Although, if it stays as overcast as it has been, don't go here since there won't be much of a view.
If you like steak, Arnie Morton's downtown is phenomenal.
Maison Akira in Pasadena - it's more French/Asian than just Asian. Nice atmosphere, and quiet.
Bistro K in Pasadena - fantastic food, no corkage (bring your own since they don't have wine or liquor). But make reservations immediately, they book up quickly.
Shiro in South Pasadena - similar food to Maison Akira.
The dining room at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood is romantic, and the food is good. Fantastic service and wine list.
Blue Velvet in downtown LA is one of my new faves. Beautiful atmosphere and food.
The dining room at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena is one I've heard a lot of good things about but haven't been yet.
Opus, in mid-WIlshire area is always a hit (IMHO).
I just wrote about Babita -- see my review ESP if you live in the area! Here's the thing about Babita, I thought it was cute and romantic -- but we don't have kids and are fortunate enough to go a lot to sorta trendy restaurants. Now if I had kids, and it's my one night out a year, I might want to splurge and go to Grace (love this restaurant, pricy -- dinner for two with the works will run you about $250)... or Jiraffe (in SM -- do a search -- you can easily go to the promenade for a movie afterwards, great location). If your wife loves seafood, Providence is suppose to be great but we haven't gone since I'd want more options.
Just read that you're going on a Friday -- yikes! I'd stick to Pasadena, downtown restaurants or Silverlake/Los Feliz. SL's best restaurants are Blair's, vermont (which is sorta romantic) and Cliff's Edge (the setting is really romantic but it's also very trendy -- the food is not as good as the others, but solid. It's about the setting, do a search).
Haven't been but Babita in San Gabriel seems to be immensely popular on this board.
Personally didn't find Providence super-romantic.
For West Hollywood choices --
Little Door -- not uber-foody-food but good, fresh ingredients well cooked, and the large, goregously lit and laid out Euro-Morrocan front patio might be the most romantic atmosphere in LA.
For more overtly foody-choice -- Grace.
re: bite bite
My husband and I went to Little Door about a month ago under similar circumstances - to have a lingering romantic dinner in the pre-kid spirit on a date night friday. Depends on what you're looking for, but we found the food and service lacking, with the atmosphere visually pleasing, but crowded and loud. We were not on the patio, which looked quite pretty, but diners (and their conversations) were shoulder-to-shoulder. We will not return. I wrote a little more about our experience here: