World Class Restaurants in SoCal
I have been trying to find a first class restaurant in Los Angeles for the past year, and have decided that there is only one: Patina. Others have good nights and occasionally great food, but Patina stands out in terms of consistency. Having said that, I am certainly not enamored of the extreme prices and often less-than-friendly service. I know this is purely a matter of taste (in every sense), but I would be interested in chowhound opinions - is there an alternative in terms of imaginative and carefully prepared cuisine?
Just went back to L'Orangerie with a tribe of foodie New Yorkers who always complain that LA is lacking in the REAL dinning experience.....LA has far better ethnic and midpriced food than New York, but I have missed the thrill of a really FINE dinning experience since moving here. Anyway, L'Orangerie ROCKS!!!! It is an unbelievably beautiful room, the service is perfect, and the food is amazing. It is as memorable as anyplace I have ever been, Daniele, Bouley, Lutece, Babbo, etc.....It is a unique and special experience. GO! (If you can afford it.It's expensive. OUCH!)
It is very well watched over, the owner is there every night and the exec chef is always on the stove. Patina is very good but no where near the experience of L'Orangerie. One of my party went back the next night because he couldn't believe this sort of place existed here, or New York... He was not remotely disapointed the next night. Just as fabulous; it is NOT a mirage.
Interesting that you say Patina is a consistently world-class restaurant. We ate there 2x in one month and noted that the food was well-prepared yet bland-- as if the soul had escaped the body. Then we found out that the head chef and his sous chef had gone to L'Ermitage, the hotel restaurant in Beverly Hills. We headed there and had a spectacular meal, with many complimentary appetizers sent by the kind and talented chef.
If by ``world-class'' you mean a high-end restaurant ready to go one-on-one with Taillevent, there probably isn't anything in Los Angeles, although l'Orangerie, Spago, Valentino, Ginza Sushiko, Belvedere and occasionally Patina are at least at a Michelin two-star level. And while Campanile isn't structured as a luxury restaurant, its food is extremely good.
But L.A. is a fairly casual restaurant town, and formal luxury cuisine is not one of its great strengths. Imagination, rigorous simplicity and excellent produce are.
Campanile is, all in all, my preferred fine restaurant in LA. Atmosphere is relaxed. Service good. And most importantly the food is consistently excellent. In case you haven't tried them, the Monday night family dinners the best deal in town. Thursday night is grilled cheese at the bar done by Chef NAncy Silverton with the best croque monsieur on this side of the Atlantic. My favorite meal there-- a Belvedere martini, a tasting carafe of one of the reds they're pouring, and Mark Peel's prime rib with white Tuscan beans. And now I can eat that every night thanks to Zocor!