recs for sat nite dinner between sm & brentwood?
have friends coming up from s.d. tomorrow night, and i need to settle on a place for dinner.
some details to consider...
i'd rather not bother with anything too unique, special or super-pricey [i.e. abode, josie, valentino] because he'll eat anything you put in front of him, and the only thing she ever orders is a salad with grilled tuna on it. they're not exactly culinary adventurers, and certainly not food snobs.
however, i'd still like a relatively classy, upscale vibe, decent food, maybe a nice lounge or bar scene for a cocktail.
age range is mid 30's to early 40's & not into the hipster scene too much...so definitely avoiding places like 'penthouse' @ huntley hotel, etc.
they're staying @ casa del mar and i live in brentwood, so anything between san vicente/wilshire & the ocean would be ideal.
i've been routinely disappointed by the sub-par food & abominable service @ the s.m. outpost of 'sushi roku,'
i've only been to the original 'boa' location on sunset, never the westside one.
'houston's' is usually a safe bet/standby, but i've never been to the one @ the promenade.
i love 'a votre sante' & 'nagao' by the brentwood country mart, but there's zero vibe @ either place.
'chaya venice' was an old favorite of mine, but i haven't been there for several years. is the food still good? and is it still deafeningly noisy?
most of the reviews of the brentwood katu-ya have said that the food is mediocre and the service is horrendous.
so...what to do?
any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I second Orris, although they don't take reservations and seating can be very tight and loud (although I recently ate out on the patio and hopefully with cooperative warmer weather, this is a cozier option).
I'm also a fan of the Library Alehouse for the good American fare and great beer (although later in the evening can make it a little tougher to get a seat)
Sounds like Nook would fit the bill nicely. It's not too expensive, the food is awesome, and it's a nice space with a great convivial group of people. It's just _slightly_ outside of your range, but not by much (it's basically on Barrington and Santa Monica).
11628 Santa Monica Blvd #9
Los Angeles, CA 90025
I did a blog post about them a while back but I think it's still relevant:
Nook is a good idea; Violet is another nearby option.
Bandera has a vibe, and this might be a good compromise.
In Brentwood, Pizzicotto might be a good option as not too expensive and not too exotic. I like Palmeri and Pecorino, but you probably don't want to spend the money there. Amici is another good, but perhaps too pricey option for this occasion.
If you head down to SM, consider Fritto Misto for Italian that is very accommodating to all palates. Also, Cafe Montana and 17th St. Cafe will accommodate both his eat anything attitude and her "salad w/ tuna" position.
re: New Trial
I just went to Punch Grill for the first time last night - it was very nice inside and the food was excellent (especially the bread - it was piping hot and so delicious because the butter just melted right on it). We went kinda early (around 7pm) and we were the youngest people there by a longshot - most of the patrons were between 50 and 80, which was completely opposite what I was expecting with such a trendy looking dining room.
re: other responses: Musha is too loud and tiny, Houstons is overpriced.
Chaya Venice is ALWAYS great, and has exactly the vibe you're looking for, as well as great service, food, and vibe.
Boa is so-so. Katsuya is great, but good luck getting a table before 10, if they don't know you, on such late notice.
Other ideas: Rustic Canyon (but it's loud), Sam's in SM Canyon, Brass Cap in SM Canyon, Brentwood, Via Veneto, Tengu, Whist at Viceroy
I'd say Rustic Canyon if you can get a booth, which is quieter. Otherwise, it does pretty loud.
I like the Houston's rec, I don't think it's overpriced, like you said it's a safe bet, and from my experience at the Santa Monica location, it's just like the other locations I've been to.
Chaya Venice is great, but I've never been at night and hear it gets pretty loud then.
Maybe think about Il Fornaio in Santa Monica. Pretty reasonably priced basic Italian.
I've read very good things on this board about Cafe Paradiso, though I haven't personally been.
Via Veneto is my fave, but it is very expensive.
MUSHA!!! I'm beginning to realize I need to expand beyond my circle of favorite Santa Monica restaurants beyond Musha, Josie, Via Veneto and Tacos Por Favor. But, she can have salad with grilled ahi (It's quite good), and you and he will be very, very happy. Be sure to order the mackerel they sear - actually torch - at the table and the pork that is simmered until it is fall-apart tender. The prices are reasonable and the ambiance is fun, but not hipster. Also, the house cold sake is a real bargain.