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Oct 12, 2007 02:15 PM

One blow-out meal in LA please

We'll be there for a long weekend (only) in November. Last two visits (which shows how long ago we were last there) we went to Bastide (the Ludo years) thanks to a recommendation from this Board and were wowed and impressed.
Thinking of trying Spago again (now over 3 years and good experience last time), but can anyone point me to a new experience?
You guys came through last time, and normally I would search the Board - but it's hard to find a place you don't yet know!
If it helps, my best recent meals were in NY at wd-50 and Jean-Georges (in that order).
Not yet sure where we're staying, but when that's nailed down I'll be looking for more local fare. Currently considering Uzbekistan - as we don't have any decent Uzbek food in Toronto.
Thanks, guys (non-gender specific).

PS Added after first couple of replies: just had a thought - truffle season may be in full swing by then. Any prospects for a truffle dinner?

PPS In hopes of showing my good faith, I do post on what I experienced:

is my response on my last visit.

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  1. With WD50 and Jean-Georges under your belt, your next bet should be to try Providence or Urasawa. Those two are very high on the LA "Wow" list. Providence is LA's equivalent to Le Bernardin and Urasawa is our equivalent to Masa.

    5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

    Urasawa Restaurant
    218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

    16 Replies
    1. re: SauceSupreme

      Thanks - by coincidence was already checking out Providence as you posted(trolled some of my favourite LA Posters).
      Their website didn't knock me out! Out of date and virtually no menus.
      So I'm going to 'tentatively' rule out 'primarily seafood' places - indeed if I backtrack on that, will probably try out Providence. Sushi doesn't really do it for me - I prefer Kaiseki style Japanese (not that I'm asking for Kaiseki reccos - just trying to eliminate sushi!).

      1. re: estufarian

        Bastide just reopened with a brand new chef, maybe it's worth checking out to compare with your last experience.

        Since you're ruling out Providence, I'd rec Grace or Cut for a fantastic meal.

        For a great truffle dinner, you can't go wrong with Valentino.

        1. re: hrhboo

          Still checking out your reccos. One point - is foie gras "legal" in LA?

          1. re: estufarian

            Yes, it is. Wolfgang Puck no longer serves it at his restaurants, but plenty of other places do.

              1. re: estufarian

                estufarian, Urasawa does foie gras as part of the shabu shabu course. All Kyoto style Kaiseki.

                1. re: estufarian

                  foie gras is legal...until 2012.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Foie gras at La Cachette ... can't go wrong.

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Grace is another one spot that I really like; Chef Fraser also serves foie.

                      Grace Restaurant
                      7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                  2. re: estufarian

                    Hey estufarian,

                    Urasawa *is* Kaiseki-style Japanese cuisine. :)

                    1. re: exilekiss

                      Although Urasawa is technically Kaiseki, I think it might be very raw fish-intensive compared to the ones I've had in Japan - I sense the OP feels the same way... But how could one not consider this place for a blow-out meal, right?

                    2. re: estufarian

                      Gee, don't rule out Providence based on the web site! The web site is not the venue!

                      re think that, providence is one of the best experiences in LA, especially the chef's tasting menu or chef's table.

                      1. re: Diana

                        Hi Diana,
                        I note both your replies.
                        You praise Providence and 'question' Sona (in favor of Grace - also recommended by several).
                        Is it possible to expand the reasons (note: I really liked Bastide and wd-50 was my best 2007 meal so far)? Last time I posted, Bastide evoked a similar "Love it - Hate it" response but I was able to divine the reasons and made what was (for me) a great choice. I also liked Melisse - excellent in its style, but was much 'safer' - lacked the 'wow factor' - but I've sent others there, who I would never have sent to Bastide. Just trying to understand what each place is producing and match it to my current taste. There's no absolute right or wrong - just gathering info.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Thanks - as soon as the suggestion was made I searched Chowhound and found the same post. Now i wonder why some people DON'T like it!

                            1. re: estufarian

                              Because the service is inattentive, the food misses, and it cost me $450 for two.

                    1. Let me second Valentino as one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Also, since you mentioned truffles, I can highly recommend Melisse. Here is a link to a post I did about a meal I had at Melisse last December. It's one of the best meals I've ever had in my life.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: foodie21

                        I had a good meal at Melisse a few years back - more traditional than Spago and excellent wine selection.

                        Is it still the same chef/management/sommelier?

                      2. if wd50 and JG fit your taste, you may want to add Sona and Ortolan to the list of places under consideration. I would second the recommendation of Melisse as well.

                        Sona might be your call here.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: JE33

                          Melisse has just moved up the list as they are advertising white truffles!
                          HOWEVER - where might these originate - to my knowledge, the Italian ones aren't available yet! Could they be (horrors) Chinese????????

                          Will check out the other two - I'm assuming that ortolan doesn't actually serve them!

                          1. re: estufarian

                            There are white truffles at the moment, they are Piemontese, but at this point in the year they are ruinously expensive and not very good. And while Melisse is very good, and orthodox French cooking is something Los Angeles is short of at the moment, the restaurant is pretty staid, and the food excitement is elsewhere.

                            Providence, as stated elsewhere, is hitting on all cylinders at the moment. Ortolan is also quite good, if somewhat underrated - chef Eme is Michelin-star talented. Sona is often good, but I suspect that the chef's energy is focussed right now on Comme Ca, his just-opening brasserie.

                            1. re: condiment

                              Aha! That's useful information.
                              It suggests that it's the chef that makes the difference. Most "good" places operate well even if the nominal chef is 'not available'.
                              OK, all, I'm going to do some more research on Providence. My first go-round didn't excite.
                              Comme Ca (at first glance) seems to be more 'comfort' food. From the comments it seems it's not quite open yet, despite its opening party!

                              1. re: condiment

                                i haven't been to Providence although maybe i should; on some posts there are people saying they didn't have great meals there. i don't want to take the risk of an annoying night out.
                                i really enjoyed my meal at Melisse last week, the tasting menu. the desserts were weak and the cheese was no Picholine (nyc) but there were many
                                special tastes, elegantly executed, including a fabulous reconstituted poached egg with caviar.
                                i wouldn't call the place staid. it was quiet but there was plenty to observe in the room and the service was top-notch. i can't think of a better (not including omakase) meal i've had in this town in a while.

                            2. re: JE33

                              On paper Sona seems to be really exciting (still need to do due diligence). Thanks for this recommendation (actually thanks to all). Would never have found this (or several others) without you.
                              But, as a guide, Sona really seems to be something we don't get in Toronto. And I haven't ruled out Melisse or Providence. Both seem to be the best of their style.

                              1. re: estufarian

                                I'll triple the recommendation for Sona. I haven't eaten at Urasawa, because Sona nearly broke my dinner bankroll, but was unquestionably worth it. It might be as close to Kaiseki-Los Angeles style as you'll find.

                                The wine pairings were inspired, the individual courses were head-spinning. My date and I received radically different plates for each course, which was even cooler... Somehow we each got a course that was suited to our palette. The service was exquisite, and I thought I was going to burst by the time I left.

                                Melisse is good, but IMHO Sona is better. Melisse has more of a traditional dining feel, with a spacious, well lit room and heavier, less complicated dishes. Sona is darker, a little more crowded and intimate, with almost as many servers bustling about as there are diners, but the ambience alone adds a seriousness and energy to the meal that Melisse doesn't have.

                                Not that there's a wrong decision here, but if I had $500 to blow on dinner for 2, it'd be Sona, no questions asked.

                                1. re: Detroit Slim

                                  Thanks! Sent some reviws of to AmuseGirl and she's endorsed Sona. But will wait 24 hours before finalizing.

                                2. re: estufarian

                                  I dunno, I've heard more bad then good about Sona. Grace gets better reviews from chowhouwnders.

                                  1. re: Diana

                                    was going to say melisse as well

                                    1. re: rickym13

                                      To be honest, I have only been to Sona once but was not impressed in the least (we had the tasting menu). Service was uneven at best. There were six or seven of us - all wine drinkers - so there was the potential for a big tip, but that didn't seem to make any difference. All of us agreed: we not going back.

                                      1. re: sherpa50

                                        I think Ortolan is good. Bastide, Providence, et al is always nice. Comme Ca might be open by then and it may or may not be a good optoin.

                                        I read somewhere that Hokusai does Kaiseki, but I doubt it.

                                        1. re: jlrobe

                                          Hokusai does kaiseki, but it isn't what you'd call good kaiseki.

                              2. Chef at Melisse (I thought) left earlier this year to open another restaurant. I can vouch for Providence, Grace, and Sona. However, I really enjoyed the reopening of Bastide. I don't recall truffles on the tasting menus.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: brekkie_fan

                                  I agree about Valentino, but we always enjoy the Ivy or Ivy at the Shore.

                                  1. re: malibu1

                                    The Ivy has also been recommended by people outside this list. I had assumed that it was more of a "scene" than a dining destination - but I recall that I had the same impression of Spago, which delayed my trying that. In truth we had a great meal there and Wolfgang Puck was a charming host who seemed (or well-faked) being genuinely interested in our impressions - he came by twice, with totally different questions/comments each time.
                                    So how good IS the food at the Ivy?

                                    1. re: estufarian

                                      Not good enough for a blowout meal. It's fine for lunch is you fancy a bit of celeb spotting, but the food is only okay. And you probably won't spot many celebs either.

                                  2. re: brekkie_fan

                                    No, Josiah Citrin is still at Melisse (he owns it). Perhaps you were thinking about Valentino?