Graduation Dinner - I have reservations for Moonshadows... should I look further?
I've been browsing this site for a while now but this is my first posting, I'm hoping you can help.
I'm a grad student from Kenya over at USC and will be graduating in a few weeks' time. My parents are flying in for the ceremony (and my brother is coming from San Diego) and the four of us are hoping to celebrate with a great meal in a good restaurant. It's an important evening not only because of the occassion but because I want the meal to be one of the highlights of their trip to LA.
There are certain factors to take into account...
1 - preferably seafood but the food has to be as good as it can get for the price - we're all food lovers and taste is definitely the most important criteria
2 - nothing too crazily expensive - $50-70 per person (exc. drinks)
3 - nowhere too stuffy or formal
4 - an ambience that will make the meal memorable (I'm leaning towards an ocean view but am flexible)
I currently have reservations for Moonshadows but am not sure if I should be looking further.
Can anyone help? Thanks.
I was at Moonshadows this past weekend for a birthday. We primarily just had drinks in the outside bar area. It was a really great time. The view is really really nice and so relaxing, I almost felt as if I were on vacation. If you do decide to go here, I highly recommend timing your arrival a little before sunset.
The drinks we ordered were all mixed well, and they definitely did not skimp on the alcohol in our mixed drinks. Service was great too, although it did take a while for our food to come out (we just ordered a few things to share) - the server just said that the kitchen was backed up.
Flash Fried Calamari ($11) was great. I generally don't like fish, but if calamari is fried, I'll usually have just a few small pieces. This calamari was fantastic and came with a really great tangy chipotle-garlic aioli.
We also all shared the Garlic-Herb Marinated Free Range Chicken ($23). Presentation was a bit messy as you can see in the photo, but it was still tasty. I think it's a bit overpriced as it was a pretty standard chicken dish, but we all liked it.
Two of my friends shared the Lobster Shrimp and Crab Meat Stuffed Black Ravioli ($22), and they loved it, they nearly licked the plate clean.
All the entrees except for some steaks are in the low-mid $20s, so it's not really all that expensive. And the amazing view definitely makes it memorable.
Thanks everyone for all the great feedback; I knew I could count on chowhounds to help out. I still haven't made up my mind but your comments are certainly helping to point me in the right direction.
Maybe I'll try heading out to one or two of the recs next week just to check them (and the sunset out) over a drink or two and a plate of something tasty. :-)
we've had nothing but great experiences at Moonshadows since the new chef came in. The view is spectacular (tell them you are graduating and your family is here from Kenya and ask for a window table). I think it fits the bill for what you want, assuming you want to be on the beach. If you don't care about that, I second Grace as our favorirte restaurant where you cannot go wrong!
No, no, no to Moonshadows! The ocean view can't be beat, but there is nothing else to recommend this place. The food goes from mediocre to worse, and even the comfort/decor are bland. I second Geoffrey's. What about the Getty Center? I haven't eaten there in a long time, maybe someone who has can chime in. The view is fantastic.
Moonshadows has a great view, a nice atmosphere, and a varied history as to food. When the new ownership came abroad a couple of years back, the food was quite decent, and much better than it had been before. I haven't eaten there recently though, and if taste is the most important criteria, then I'd say you could do better.
I actually wouldn't vote for the Lobster -- in my experience I haven't thought much of the view or ambience. I've only had the lobster there, and it is not a bad place to eat lobster.
I went to Moonshadows a few weeks ago. I thought the food and drinks were mediocre. My dirty martini tasted awful. I would not want to go there with family for a nice graduation dinner. I do think it is a decent place to go for the view and for chatting with friends. I would recommend a place with a nicer interior and better food for a graduation.
Just as an additional note, by "food" at Moonshadows, I actually meant the calamari appetizer, which was decent. We only had apps and drinks. Some friends got something called a Long Beach Iced Tea. I thought they meant Long Island Ice Tea, but I was wrong. It was a pink drink that tasted pretty good (the best of what we ordered there). The dirty martini was not good and the mojitos were nothing special. The view was lovely. We sat outside on the patio, where they have the cushions and mattresses. These seemed a bit dirty to me, but my cousin thought they were fine.
We almost went inside as it grew darker outside, but inside the restaurant smelled musty to me (dank and damp). I would actually prefer to dine inside at Duke's in Malibu, near a clean window, with a good view.
I'll third The Lobster. Although, you can't beat that view at Moonshadows, it actually makes the food taste better. In Moonshadows defense, I have had some great meals there - it's just that it's inconsistent - but when it's good, it's great.
Also, Catch in Casa del Mar - it's just another one to throw in the ring.
Welcome to the board! You might want to start on these two posts as a primer - they might be of help. Moonshadows used to be all about the view when I was in high school - the food was not a very serious consideration. However, it sounds like the new ownership is much more serious about making this place more of a dining destination. With that said, you'll find a fair amount of alternatives that might be worth comparing. The view from Moonshadows on a nice day or night is quite magical - nothing but ocean, sky, and coastline.
Good luck and hang in there - only a few more weeks!
yes, look further!!! the food is HORRIBLE. very bland and medicore, ESPECIALLY for the price. the view is amazing but if u guys are food people, stay AWAY from here. I hear nobu's food is good. allegria's food is okay (better than moonshadows), duke's is great for lunch (very good salmon, best blt sandwich Ive ever had, amazing salads, delicious desserts, etc) plus they have a great view too.