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best tasting menu? celebrating a b-day

we'll be celebrating my fiance's b-day this friday and have reservations at providence, but what would be your choice? we've loved providence before but i wanted to try something different.

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  1. I love Providence too, but if you want something different, we were just at Grace Friday and they do a wonderful tasting menu. You can call in advance and set something up with them, or see what they have that night.

    2 Replies
    1. re: djdebs

      Can a tasting menu at Grace be arranged on a Saturday? I thought it was only Tues-Thurs or something. How many courses is the tasting menu at Grace, and what is the cost?

      I haven't had the tasting menu at Grace, but I love their regular menu. I love Providence's tasting menu, too.

      1. re: Nicole

        They had a game tasting menu on Friday, so I think that they do them on other nights. The menu mentioned that the chef will set up a menu for you. I'd call and ask.

    2. I also adore providence! I second Gravce as a second option. Also think about Valentino's, or perhaps Bastide.

      Another option is to get Omakase at Asanebo in Studio City! Yummy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Diana

        I had lunch at Asanebo and it was fabulous...didn't do the Omakase, but I definitely plan to go back for it for dinner (and SOON)!

        I really enjoyed the tasting menu at Foundry, although some reviews here have not been stellar.

        1. I'm a big fan of Grace, but the most recent tasting menu I enjoyed was the one at Bastide.

          1. Providence is great. I had a very disappointing dinner at Grace last Valentine's Day, so I don't know what the fuss is about. I really like the "Big Daddy" tasting menu at Bin 8945--10 plus courses or 'til you yell uncle. Great food, great wines, small bistro atmosphere. Haven't made it to Bastide yet, but I am told its great. You might have a tough time getting a table. I made reservations about a month in advance, and had something come up last minute, so I had to cancel. :-( Regardless of where you go, enjoy!

            1. Bastide, Melisse, or Bin 8945.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jenngen

                Bin 8945, absolutely, with the greatest variety of wines of any of the places, and you do not have to order bottles, but can do the tastes, or any combination you want, and with the size of the list here, the choices are endless, as is the imagination and skills of Mike Bryant in the kitchen.
                and of course they have mixed drinks as well.

              2. If you want different - Blue Velvet in downtown (just west of the 110 Fwy - "Westlake" area) has some fun/tasty/adventurous food. My husband talked me into getting the tasting menu there on my birthday recently - we ended up having a 9-course meal, plus one amuse-bouche and extra dessert (standard when they bring the check), and we split a wine pairing. We ate for about 3 decadent hours and it was wonderful, certainly the best birthday for me so far. It was our second time eating there and we enjoyed our meals on both occasions. We also had attentive and impeccable service both times, contrary to what was posted on Chow here:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/347606

                Blue Velvet
                750 S Garland Ave
                Los Angeles, CA 90017
                (213) 239-0061
                www.bluevelvetrestaurant.com

                1. If pasta and/or Mozza is your thing, LA Eater just announced that Osteria Mozza is offering a 7-course tasting for $69/pp (+$50 for wine pairings).

                  But I have fond memories of Providence though; next on my tasting menu hit-list is Ortolan.

                  ~H.C.
                  http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                  1. Four of us just had the 10 course tasting menu at Spago on Saturday night. There's lots of great reviews of that experience from Hounds on this Board (check out Kevin's photos -- they are great!). I highly recommend it. With wine pairings it was over $200 each -- the only dishes that kind of missed were the palate cleanser/sorbet which tasted like maypo, the turbot (too fishy and mine had a couple little bones in it) and the cheese course which was only one cheese (!). There were some amazing standouts -- sweetbreads, indian langoustine, the tuna sashimi cone -- I didn't think I'd ever be hungry again after eating so much food, but I'm ready to go back.

                    The wine pairings were really exemplary -- only complaint was that they did not change the stemware with each new wine. Service was otherwise fine -- they will keep pouring the bottled water until you've bought yourself half a case unless you tell them to stop.

                    We did need to let them know in advance we wanted to do the tasting menu -- this may not be too common on Saturday night as I think the other diners ordered off the menu.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: NAspy

                      Not changing the stemware is inexcusable let alone @ > $200.

                      1. re: JAB

                        The place would never have gotten 2 stars in France, it's true. We had a very good time, anyway and generally thought the food was of the highest quality for L.A.

                        1. re: NAspy

                          I'm not sure if Spago would get 2 stars in France.
                          Don't get me wrong, I ADORED my tasting menu at Spago, and really want to go back. But still, France? There is a lot more to compete with there, including better trained waiters and floor staff who think of it as a life long career, not just a way to make money while trying to break into acting. Puck would have to work a lot harder, I think, to get two stars there.

                          In France, chefs who lose stars kill themselves, that's how seriously they take it. Thank goodness our chefs don't!

                          1. re: Diana

                            I think that's what I said -- Spago would not get 2 stars in France.

                      2. re: NAspy

                        My bf and I also had the 10 course tasting menu last Friday, and would also highly recommend it. Almost every dish was a "wow" for us, but the standouts were the pumpkin agnolotti with white truffle, the most tender squab either of us have ever had, and, in contrast to NAspy, the cheese course. We also had one cheese, but it was delicious! I think it was a triple creme brie with huge shavings of white truffle on top.

                        We had no problems with the service (they changed the glasses for every new wine) and they were especially generous with the brut rose champagne that started our meal, giving us three refills (and I think they stopped only because we had to save room for the following 9 glasses...). Wolfgang Puck was also in the restaurant that night making the rounds to each table, so that was a bonus as well. Total for us came to $600 for two, which included two tasting menus, two wine pairings, two cups of coffee and an 18% gratuity which they included.

                        I had the Blue Velvet tasting menu (which someone else recommended earlier) back in June and I would say both Spago and BV are excellent. The sommelier at BV was young and very enthusiastic and really took the time to talk to us about each wine and why he chose it, but you just get more (and pay more) at Spago. 8 amuses at Spago vs 1 at BV. So both amazing, but I'd still choose Spago over BV (of course two tasting menus with wine pairings at BV was only $400 rather than $600).

                        1. re: NAspy

                          The tasting menu at Spago has gone downhill since Lee Hefter started spending more time at Cut. I don't think i've ever accused any establishment of going downhill in my life, but the thing about the tasting menu is that there hasn't been any variety in the dishes in the past three years, at least from season-to-season (e.g., each 10-course winter menu seems to be substantially the same, with a couple of exceptions). Tuna cone is a tradition, so i have no problems with that as an annual starter... but sweetbreads, indian langoustine, agnolotti... been there, done that. the only thing that changes with the agnolotti is what they top it with (white/black/summer truffle), and what they stuff it with (pumpkin in the fall, celery in the winter, and corn in the summer).

                          Also, the cheese course used to be a selection from a large tray (they once gave my table the entire tray of 12 cheeses to share). then it went to 3 last year. now, apparently, it's down to 1.

                          all this being said, i did have the best venison filet mignon of my life when i had the tasting menu last year.

                        2. Bin8945
                          Sona
                          Providence
                          Grace
                          Spago
                          Urasawa (i know not technically, but three of the best nights of my life...)
                          ...these are my faves anyhoo...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Emme

                            The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, Pasadena. - you can't beat this place for excellent food and service.
                            The Foundry on Melrose - food was so good and the staff made the experience a lot of fun. Ask for seating at the chef's table.

                            We were very disappointed with Grace. Providence is fantastic but at times a bit too cerebral.

                          2. I don't know that anything really beats Providence's tasting menu with wine pairings. Grace certainly doesn't compare in my book- I did like Sona and Hatfields. Just be prepared to put down a lot of $$ at Sona. I took my BF to Providence for his B-day and he specifically requested a return trip for his next big day.

                            1. I went to "The Kitchen" (Sunset near KCET) and was absolutely delighted with the taste & quality. I had meatloaf that really tasted like moms home cooking. Corkage is $6 a bottle, so bring a bunch of friends & bottles and have a great time.