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I have $400. Where to go?

  • t

I won $400 and I promised My girlfriend that I would take her out for a nice dinner. I have no problem spending all $400 on this dinner. Westside is preferred as we live in Santa Monica.

We have been to:
The Lobster
Ocean Ave Seafood

I was thinking:

No preference on cusine but she doesn't eat beef or pork.
What do you all think???

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  1. i'd add:

    capo - great flame grilled meats and wine selection

    1. Valentino. Not Maestro's, while I have had wonderful exeriences there, it is a steakhouse. I have not been, but I am thinking many Chowhounds will be pressing for Providence. When Valentino's is on, it is exceptional.

      1 Reply
      1. This is a great question because it basically means, here's a great chance for a meal you wouldn't normally spend that kind of cash on, like a free bonus. I think there are three real contenders for that: Ortolan on 3rd which is one of the best restaurants in LA, IMHO, Providence which might actually be the best restaurant in LA, and Giorgio Baldi on West Channel. All of those places are pricy (esp. with wine) but worthwhile. Along with those, you could got Angelini Osetria or Cut the steak house.

        1. Maestro's... do you mean Mastro's? If so, it is a fantastic steakhouse, the best steak I've ever had, and I highly recommend it. But aside from steak, I think (you might want to call to check because I'm not positive) they only have a couple of fish dishes, so she might not like it. It is really a steak lover's place.

          Valentino is great but a little stuffy, if you care about that sort of thing. If you are into wine, you should go here - they have the most amazing and extensive wine list I've ever seen.

          What about sushi, like Sushi Roku, or The Hump?

          You might also want to research Scarboni Lobster and Steak House on Wilshire & 3rd. I can't speak personally about it, but I am dying to try it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: LisaStitch

            You might check the query I posted on Saturday about Scarboni; it garned overwhelmingly negative responses.

            1. I'd have to say Providence....with Melisse is a backup.
              Providence has a superb tasting menu, and since your girlfriend doesn't eat beef or pork.....I'm assuming a variety of seafood would be to her liking.
              Melisse also has a lovely tasting menu, but I find their wine prices to be ridiculously high.

              1. Try Table 8 or AOC, (Melrose and 3rd St. respectively). I like the food at both places. It depends what you are going for more flash or good food??? They aren't that close to Santa Monica, but still not that far...


                1. Hands down the Providence 9-course tasting menu with wine pairings.

                  1. If I only had $400-?
                    A. Leave Karla at home and go to Urasawa by myself.
                    B. Melisse (140- ea for Carte Blanche) or Valentino (125- special Tasting Menu), both great.
                    C. If near Providence, which is also one of our favorites. (Special Chef's Menu 110- ea)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: russkar

                      I was thinking similarly re Urasawa, except I was thinking tack on 150 and call it a splurge night... Totally worth your added $$$ to the won 400.

                      Otherwise, I'd say Providence.

                    2. Japanese omakase (tell them no pork or beef beforehand) at the bar:
                      Shibucho on Beverly (found this place because of Jerome's rec) - straight forward, traditional (anti-Katsu-ya)

                      Kiriko - very fresh too, more creative but request to be seated in front of Ken. His protege, Shige is great but attention from the master chef is better.

                      Wa Sushi (another great rec from Jerome) - most creative of the bunch you can definitely get rolls here and if you do, don't miss out on the TT roll) and you'll get more cooked plates here. TT, the guy in charge of the grill, is one of the best chefs out here in LA. It's quite a spectacle when 3 great chefs prepare your meal in front of you. Since the food is so good, I consider the decor a non-issue.

                      Seafood (wine pairing recommended for all tastings below) :
                      Providence - tasting menu

                      Hatfield's (one of my favs) - The only place in LA where I've had better fish than Providence and Water Grill - for less too.

                      Sona (only if you're willing to experiment and on the condition that you go with the 9 course tasting with wine pairing). It's a love/hate relationship on this board. The only place where you'll probably spend all of your 400. No non-Japanese restaurant currently in LA has topped my tasting meals there.

                      Grace (if you have a big sweet tooth). Most inconsistent of the three but when it works, it's fantastic. Excellent desserts.

                      Mozza - truly amazing food and encompasses some of the freshest ingredients of any Italian restaurant. Hard to spend more than 200 here though.

                      La Terza - Angelini's other place. Although it's famous for it's meats they have some of the best pastas in town. But if they have the branzino, get it. Must get the BRANZINO. I know your girlfriend doesn't eat big animals but the chacuterie plate is phenomenal and so is the the one at Mozza.

                      Valentino - Again, the above comments are correct. It can be good or really f'ing amazing depending on the night. Some of their pastas are to die for, especially when white truffle is in season.

                      Melisse. You're correct to choose this place. It's definitely -in my opinion- the best but not necessarily most refined French restaurant left in town. I really miss L' Orangerie and Bastide.

                      P.S. Skip the Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel by all means. Yech, disgusting and rip-off fare. And if you're really smart, I'll skip all the above restaurants and shell out an additional 200 for a wonder meal at Urasawa. Best 200 out-of-pocket for a meal you'll spend in LA. Alright, I'm lying it's more like 250 with drinks, tip and tax.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jackkirby

                        Nice Post but have to disagree with some of your comments, based on experience.
                        1. Agree , Shubicho is good, been going for years.
                        2.Agree , Kiriko is very good.
                        3. Agree Wa is very good, all the Chef's are from Matsuhisa and do a wonderful job, especially TT.
                        4.Agree, Providence is the Best overall , especially Seafood Fusion.
                        5. Disagree, Hatfield's is very average and we really wanted to love the place, just doesn't have it? No piece of fish has ever been even close to Providence or WG, nor could it be because of limited access. You will never see a Nancy Scallop at Hatfield's or a Live King Crab or Wild Kampachi or Live Australian Lobster, perfect SD uni, I could go on?
                        6.Disagree, Sona, we have had the 9 course TM three times and everytime it's not been great, refuse to return, even when invited on someone else's tab?
                        7. Agree , Grace is very good but not at the same level as a Providence for similar $$.
                        8. Disagree, Mozza, one big disappointment , except for the Roasted Fish Special which was very good. I make better Squash Blossoms at Home.
                        9. Disagree , La Terza just isn't great, but we are at Angelini Osteria several times a month , normally for lunch , amazing!!!!!!!!
                        10.Agree, Valentino is very good and very consistent since Angelo returned. We will be there tomorrow night with a small group of 30.
                        11. Agree, Melisse is awesome! We will be there Wed for the Carte Blanche, best French in LA , La Cachette on Thur for a Burg Tasting, another fave.
                        The L' Orangerie of old(more than 10 yrs ago) with JF at the helm was great but that was a long time ago.
                        Bastide never wowed us, Girard was good but not a Top Tier Chef like Ludo.
                        12.Agree , Urasawa is the Bomb! $275-ea plus water , Sake, Tax , Tip , plan on about 950- per couple , we were there last month and will be back in June. The best!!!!!

                        1. re: russkar

                          russkar, you are the epitome of "aspirational" eating!

                      2. I haven't been to Melisse yet, but based on the other three options you listed, go to Providence. More consistent than the other two (oh, and don't go to Mastro's if you are trying to avoid red meat).

                        1. $400 to spend on a nice dinner with someone special, I'd just as soon go to Michael's, sit on the patio, enjoy a fantastic bottle of wine, have a pair of tasting menus, and leisurely partake in dessert. The outdoor patio still has my vote for most romantic spot in LA (with Grace being a close second).

                          1. I'd either blow it all at Providence, or use it to go to a lot of places.

                            You could go out first and do a wine tasting at a local wine shop or wine bar, with perhaps an appetizer. Think Vertical, Third Rock, or places like that.

                            Then, go to a nice place for dinner..nice, but not spending all the $400 nice..say Caffe Angeli or some other place with a similar price range. I heard Rustic Canyon is nice.

                            Then, hit a nice place for dessert and coffee. Or buy a great dessert ahead of time to serve after dinner at home!

                            This way, you have an entire evening of fun and surprises!

                            1. Thanks everyone! I think that it will be providence or melisse or put aside a little more and do Ursawa. I'm going to let the girl pick!

                              1. If romance is part of the equation, and if she will eat game meats (which she may not, if she won't eat beef or pork), take the lady to the Saddle Peak Lodge, try to get the table right in front of the fireplace in the downstairs dining room, and order the elk tenderloin.

                                1. Providence, Grace or Ortolan. (I would have said Spago, but you've been already).

                                  Melise is obviously convenient for you, but my most recent trip was not as excellent as it was a few years ago.

                                  I would not bother with Valentino (perennially overated) or Maestro's (uh, she doesn't eat beef).