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Dec 7, 2007 08:25 AM

right place for the first date in a long time

Well, unfotunatley it has been quite a while since my last date. It's been that long ago that I don't even seem to remember where to go for a first date dinner anymore - I assume that a lot of things have changed. The plans are to go to a restaurant on the Westside. I used to enjoy Josie and Melisse, but I get the feeling that these might be a bit much for a first date. Other places that I have thought of, but have not yet been to are Wilshire, Rustic Canyon, and La Botte - any comments? I am looking for a place with great food and nice atmosphere, while not being too noisy. As my date does not eat meat, the place should have a nice variety of vegetarian and fish dishes.

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  1. My favorite date spots are Violet, Beechwood, Upstairs 2 and Tasca. You're right, Josie and Melisse are far too much for a first date. Rustic Canyon is nice but is so loud you'll both be screaming your heads off at each other.

    1. Hrhboo's recs are spot on. I would also add Orris.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mollyomormon

        Orris is a fantastic rec! 3 Square might be nice and low key too, although their dinner options aren't as great as their breakfast items.

        1. re: mollyomormon

          Orris is a great date place but just beware you might be waiting for a table for a while- they don't take reservations- unless you are super comfortable with your date, this could get awkward- and a lot of the Sawtelle street shops close early.

          1. re: mollyomormon

            fwiw, for a first date, i'd recommend that you go to a place that takes reservations (i.e. NOT orris).

          2. Chez Mimi on 26th near San Vicente and Il Moro on Purdue near Olympic are two of my favorite places to take first dates on the Westside. Upstairs 2 and Violet, suggested below, are also good choices. Orris is wonderful but, as PrettyPlaty noted, does not take reservations--I often sit at the counter (not ideal for eye contact with your date). Hrhboo is right about Rustic Canyon's noise level. Wilshire and La Botte are both nice date places (and I have taken a first date to the latter) but a tad pricier than the others mentioned. Josie or Melisse tend to be more suitable for a subsequent date, though exceptions exist.

            2 Replies
            1. re: New Trial

              I should note that now that the weather is cooler, the patio at Orris is generally uncrowded even though they have tons of heat lamps. But it's true that they don't take reservations so if you're there during the dinner rush, especially on the weekend, you'll end up waiting.

              1. re: mollyomormon

                I waited 30 minutes for a patio seat just recently. It does get cold out there sometimes even with the heat lamps- I don't know that you would want to subject your date to that- that being said- it's perfectly tolerable with a coat on! That being said, I do think Orris is a good date place- the food is good and "safe" in case you're not sure of what your date might or might not like, and it's fun to look through the menu to pick items. Plus, there are usually a lot of people around walking on the streets, etc. which provides a nice atmosphere.

            2. I took a first date to Michael's in July 2005. A year and a half later, we were married. =) She had been doing a lot of dating at that point (we met on and she said an offer to meet at a place like Michael's was unusual (which is a step down from Melisse, about on par atmosphere/price wise as Josie's) and she made sure to get a mani/pedi, etc. The patio at Michael's is *very* romantic. We were off and running from the first date.

              Since it doesn't sound like the cost of the meal would bother you much (Michael's is *way* cheaper than Melisse) I highly recomend Michael's. Quiet, romantic, and an all-around great vibe.

              4 Replies
              1. re: GuidoTKP

                Big difference on Michael's gorgeous patio on a July eve with a late sunset as opposed to a chilly December. If you were wearing a suit jacket you could make an impressive galant gesture by giving her your coat, but I'd save Michael's, Melisse, even Josie (or La Cachette in Century City) for that third date.

                For a first date you don't need to up the pressure by just staring at eachother -- better to have some stuff going on around you. As I have so many times before, I'd add Nook to the equation.

                1. re: nosh

                  I just sent this email to one of my friends who is in the same situation...needed to find a place on the West Side, not sure if he's all that interested. Figured food would be a great make/break point since he is passionate about food and wine, so I sent these suggestions to him...too bad I'm not going on the date with him.

                  Hey ,
                  Here are the links for suggestions on where to take your date. Remember, you're gonna have to enjoy your meal too, so pick a place that you'll enjoy even if the date is a dud.
                  Have fun!

                  Top suggestion for first date when you are not quite sure if you'll hit it off or not. The menu gives you lots to talk about if you're at a loss for conversation starters, and the menu is a great way to gage how adventurous (or unadventurous), picky, relaxed, high-maintainace your date really is. There is also enough visual stimulation to keep y'all "interactive" and you'll at least enjoy a great meal and a perfect glass of wine if she turns out to be a bore. The bottle mark up is totally reasonable. Worth EVERY penny no matter what you order to eat or drink.


                  This has become one of my all time favorites on the West Side.
                  The main room is pretty and the lighting will make your date look great.
                  The quality of the fish, service, and sake/wine list has really impressed me. Can get kinda pricey but they have the most amazingly priced tasting menu!


                  Another of my West Side favs.
                  I'd save it for a second date because it's a bit more intimate and cozy and your focus has no other options than the person sitting across from you...the lighting is very forgiving even if your date has been hit by the ugly stick. I have no problem with the price/quality ratio but some people haven't been thrilled.


                  Have a great weekend!


                  1. re: nosh

                    I agree. Such an expensive spot at first might not be ideal date spot in making things comfortable.

                    1. re: tenxtone76

                      i was once taken to michael's on a first date.
                      i LOVED the experience.
                      VERY comfortable and pretty place to sit and talk and focus on each other.
                      LOVELY in every respect.

                2. Cafe Delfini on west channel would be a great low key first date place...small, intimate, but not too romantic or over the top.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: JE33

                    I absolutely dont believe that a great restaurant is innapropriate for a first date. The impression it can make is be worth the chance. It shows you are generous, thoughful and care about the quality of the night. Everyone has to love that sort of person. Great restaurants like Jossi or other mentioned here offer a lively atmosphere, great service, very comfortable settings, no rush and needless to say great food. And if you cant make conversation over a great dinner, theres trouble anyway. Mark Twain said that he "never found people who dont drink very interesting"....I would say that people who dont love great food and the experience it brings for a few hours worth dating either. Just my two cents. Go for it.

                    1. re: thomtompkins

                      I really appreaciate all the suggestions above, which I believe are all indeed great ideas for a first date - thanks. I might actually try Violet for the first time. Then again, thomtompkins, I like what you say. I am not trying to be pretentious by going to a nice place but want to enjoy a nice evening with good company and good food. Thanks for the thoughts.

                      1. re: stefan

                        Hello stefan,
                        I think you will enjoy VIOLET and there willmost likely be enough fish/veggie dishes to take care of your date. They have the most delicious mushroom ravioli in brown butter/sage...mmm. If there is a scallop or risotto dish you must try 'em for sure. Braised short ribs for the meat eater at the table are to die for.
                        Orris would still be A#1 for the veggie diner option and the place sure showcases the fact that its all about quality vs a scene.
                        I am sure you'l have a great date considering the fact that you are proving to be a great planner and that you really care about the evening...your great company will highlight the meal.
                        Have a great time and let us know how it goes!

                        1. re: stefan

                          I think the experience is what you make it and if you go to a somewhat casual place it wont hurt your evening at all. But if things are going well for the two of you, then a place like Grace, Hatfield, Jossie or whatever, can only make it better. If your date picks up that you feel uncomfortble in a swank place, then they may wonder why your there. But if you make the moment work for you they just think your cool. But...on an important night (and there is nothing more important than a first date with someone you dig) go for the no loose deal. Have fun !!

                          1. re: thomtompkins

                            Hi thomtompkins,
                            I think GRACE is one of the best first date places...I just didn't know if it was "west side" enough. Perfect room, perfect food, perfect service, amazing wine list, veggie friendly, and the veggie dishes are good enough for a crazy meat eater like myself to forget about ordering soemthing meaty...their cocktails, the bar if you have to wait a few minutes for your table is comfortable and beautifully lit....GRACE rocks!
                            If stefan already knows he likes the date quite a bit and he thinks it can lead to some more wonderful dinners, then I would say GRACE would be fantastic...VIOLET is casual compared to GRACE but both will work just fine.

                            1. re: tatertotsrock

                              I think I need to go to Grace more often. I dont think i've heard anyone utter a bad word about the place. I think I get distracted because there are so many other great spots within just a few blocks of it one way or another.

                          2. re: stefan

                            imho, violet does not have many good vegetarian options.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              And closed down several weeks ago.

                          3. re: thomtompkins

                            also, normally the nicer restaurants provide better, prettier, and more relaxed settings for getting to know someone.
                            if the date goes well, you don't want to be in a restaurant that will pressure you to leave because they want the table for the next party. you also don't want the next party to be staring over at your table impatiently waiting for you to leave..