B-day dinner on Sunday on the Westside
I am in a quandry as to where to go for my birthday. A great wine list is a bonus. These are my choices: Orris, Joes, Jiraffe, Abode.
Any other suggestions will be taken gratefully.
Jiraffe and Joe's are both great spots with great wine lists, but unless you can get a table on Joe's patio, neither are big on atmosphere.
Another option for you might be Wilshire. Amazing food. Great wine. And atmosphere for days... especially outside, where seating is plentiful. In fact, that's where I'm planning on going for my own birthday in about a month.
We ate at Lucques for their "Sunday night dinner" a few weeks ago and it was wonderful. I had a lamb burger that was off-the-charts good. They have a really nice wine list, too. And it's not very stuffy, so if you had a loud group for a birthday, then that wouldn't be too big of a problem.
Rustic Canyon has a great wine list, as does Penthouse at the Huntley - both great restaurants. Also, Abode.
Orris is really good, but I don't consider it a special occasion place. Of the list you provided, I would definitely pick Jiraffe. Another good choice in that area would be Josie.
Actually ended up at Joes for brunch and Abode for dinner. A great day...
At Joes, I had the parsnip soup, the peeky toe crab hash and a great bloody mary. The soup was good. A bit sweeter than I prefer. There was a hint of citrus. I did enjoy the hash. And although it didn't look like a large portion, I ended up taking about half home. I guess I filled up on the great banana nut bread they serve.
Abode was fantastic. We didn't arrive till 9 and it was empty but for 3 other tables. Thanks to our reservation, the hostess greeted me by name and Dominique Crenn happened to be standing there along with 2 other women.
We were seated in a round booth that was perfect for two, but would be tight for four.
Service was very good. We brought a bottle of Justin Isoscoles and enjoyed that with the foie gras and lamb two ways for me/ beet salad and a yellowtail for my husband. The lamb was delicious. It consisted of a rack with three pieces and lamb cheeks in a 25-spice morrocan type stew. I am always a bit tentative when I hear spice and morrocan, fearing a dish too salty or overpowering but it was just right. The lamb flavor really came through and each piece of meat was tender. My husbands yellowtail was really interesting. It was served with a bit of mashed potato over a carrot/uni emulsion. I didn't try the fish but he loved it. I did notice that the size of the yellowtail was ample. We didn't have any leftovers but were completely satisfied. Oh and they brought out a dessert sampler with a candle for my birthday. That was sweet. It included a berry smoothie shot, the chocolate souffle egg, a mango croquette, coconut pudding, a canele ofcaramel ice cream and a spoonful of I think chocolate mousse. I can't remember exactly.
We did not ask for the dessert but was charged $15 for it. That was OK with us ultimately, but thought it a little odd. Pretip, with a $20 corkage fee, the bill was $176. I can't wait to go back. Maybe try the lounge when they have live music.
What a great restaurant for Santa Monica!
If you are in the mood for Italian, Amici in Brentwood (26th/San Vicente Blvd) is a great place for great wine and food. I, too, enjoy dining at places like AOC, Lucques, Providence on special occassions, but Amici has a lot of specials that are oh so delicious! It's relatively low-key and tends to attract an older crowd, but service is awesome and I never had a negative experience there (I've been there 7, 8 times in the last 2 years). Other Italian restaurants I've been to on the westside are Toscana, Il Grano, Drago, Valentino, Osteria Latini and Vincenti.
I can see how Italian can be a bit too much if you want to enjoy a bit of eveything (and esp if you are going with only one other person vs. a group), but def a place to keep in mind!
Another recommendation is Upstairs2, but they are only open Wed - Sat. (perhaps you can try on another special occassion!)
Great wine selection - $15 corkage, but $10 if you buy a bottle downstairs at The Wine House.