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Jan 21, 2008 08:38 PM

Help us decide on Bastide, Valentino or Providence, please.

Bastide was our favorite restaurant, food and ambiance wise, when Giraud was cooking there. Haven't been to Valentino in 4+ years. Last time at Providence, we ordered off the menu.

Now we are 4 couples planning on a pre-Valentine's dinner in two weeks. Looking to do Tasting Menu (perhaps with Wine Pairing). Chef Table or private room would be a plus. If you have been recently, please share your comment on the menu, price, service, wine....


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  1. Ate at Bastide about 3 weeks ago (2 people, wine tasting menu). There are actually two options with the tasting menu at bastide, there is a regular wine tasting and the sommelier's choice wine tasting, we opted for the later (it's $90 extra per person)...while it makes the meal very expensive, its really excellent, the wines they chose were superb (if the money isn't an issue, i highly recommend). It's actually more wine than the # of courses itself, which I believe was 7 courses b/c they were giving us two glasses with certain dishes...i think the sommelier is still trying work out which wine he wants with each course and was testing it out on us (fine by me)

    The food itself was excellent albeit alot of food the last two courses i couldn't really finish. Btw you end up getting pretty drunk by the end of this.

    As far as the service, I really liked the service. They were very attentive, but not overbearing and they were very pleasant in that they were fun and not totally stoic. They said they liked us b/c we obviously were really there for the food, which they said is not always the case. Anyhow, they gave us a tour of the restaurant after dinner (we were the last couple there) and took us to the kitchen and introduced us to the chef and we chatted with him for 5 mins about the restaurant, what he wants to accomplish, the re-opening of the restaurant etc (very nice guy btw). Overall, we were very pleased with everything and I highly recommend it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Lau

      Do you remember what were served....if not the entire meal, maybe your favorite dish? Were you seated inside or out in the garden?

      1. re: fdb

        seated inside (it was raining off and on)

        i don't remember all the dishes...i think my favorite dish was the crispy pork belly, which was a piece of pork belly with cripspy skin wrapped around it shaped like a cylinder and then topped with a egg yolk, some sauce...a very savoury and artery clogging dish, but it was very good

      2. re: Lau

        I have a similar decision to make in March/April for Life Day, and I'm already dreading it.

        Providence again? (third time?) or Valentino or something new?

        hard choice, I love Providence so much! But I hear Valentino is good too, and other palces! Eek

        I share your frustration.

        1. re: Diana

          What were the most memorable dishes at Providence for you? I would do something new if I were you. :)

          1. re: fdb

            I loved the pork belly, the salt crust santa barbara spot prawns, a dish with a fish or scallop puree and fresh english pea tendrils, any kind of raw fish he does and I have to say, they're bread with fresh butter and salt to sprinkle on top is really good!

            The last time I went, that spot prawn really seared itself into my memory. Don't know if its in season now, though

            The Somalier at Priovidnece is amazing! Even if you don't do the wine tasting with the tasting menu, he wil help you find a glass or two to match. In fact, last time, I gave him a list of wines I was thinking of bringing and he helped me narrow it down. I ended up bringing about 5 bottles, which he helped me narrow down and match the fresh dishes of the evening.

            We had the Chef's tasting.

            I think you're right, something new is a good idea, but it's so hard to choose!

      3. We've been to all of the above in the last 60 days. It's a tough choice.

        Most interesting food and private kitchen chef's table would be PROVIDENCE hands down.
        VALENTINO has been very good recently (last week) which makes it close second and you might be able to secure the Wine Cellar or Private Room which is awesome.
        BASTIDE is the best deal but the food isn't as inspired as above based on Tasting Menus and they don't allow Corkage(outside bottles) which is a turn off.
        MELISSE is always a strong contender with the Carte Blanche Menu & Private Room, not to mention TWO Michelin Stars.
        ORTOLAN is very good also.

        22 Replies
        1. re: russkar

          I frequented Melisse when they first opened, but it's been years. We've done Ortolan TM before. I'm leaning toward Providence, but I guess it depends on table availability. Your reply is most helpful, russkar. Thanks.

          1. re: russkar

            Russkar, could you tell me more about your recent Carte Blanche experience at Melisse? Thanks.

            1. re: russkar

              We did Melisse's Carte Blanche a few weeks ago and were disappointed. You get a lot of food but I just felt that a lot of the dishes missed their mark. We didn't opt for wine pairings, though. Perhaps that would have made a difference.

              1. re: PrettyPlaty

                Sorry to hear that. Besides Carte Blanche, do they have another tasting menu with fewer courses?

                1. re: fdb

                  I'm surprised that the Melisse Carte Blanche wasn't amazing?
                  We dine at Melisse 3-5 times a year and only order Carte Blanche.
                  We just returned from Robuchon at the Mansion (LV) which was more than twice the price ($375 ea) and no where near as good as Melisse which just received Two Michelin's.

                  1. re: russkar

                    russkar, Should I make Melisse one of my Life Day 2008 options?

                    1. re: Diana

                      Melisse is definitely our first choice when it comes to French Food in LA. Expensive but a lot cheaper than flying to Paris. Enjoy.

                      1. re: russkar

                        I lament the demise of the first incarnation of Bastide, which I felt was the only place in LA that came close to Michelin 3-star restuarants in Paris in terms of food, service and ambiance. I'm interested in comparing Melisse (reservation made) with Guy Savoy,Tallivent, l'Arpege... I know it's 2 stars vs. 3 but I am going with high hope.

                    2. re: russkar

                      It was raining and crowded- perhaps an off night. Perhaps I might have been a bit grumpy because of the weather. The service was super slow and the food underwhelming- in fact I thought a lot of the flavors didn't mesh well. Again though, maybe should have had the wine pairings to tie it all together. I will say that it was a good amount of food for the price. I've been to L'Atelier of Joel Robuchon in LV and thought it was much more interesting- thought the Mansion menu looked a bit heavy.

                2. re: russkar

                  Does everyone have to order the same TM at the chef's table at Providence? Would different tasting menus be allowed--say if most of us want chef's menu while 1 can't handle so many dishes and wishes to order 5-courses? How about at regular tables in the dining room?

                  1. re: fdb

                    Everyone at any table has to do a tasting menu (any of the tasting menus) if one person orders. I think everyone has to choose the same tasting menu, but I do know they will change a few dises for people with allergies.

                    But never pretend to have an allergy to change a tasting menu, that's LOW!

                    It would pay to call and ask Providence these questions to get the best answer.

                    1. re: Diana

                      Thanks for reminding me to pick up the phone. I did. The answer is since we are going on a Sat. night, everyone has to order Chef's Tasting at the Chef's Table.

                      After conferring with the other couples, and going over all the options, we've decided to go for the Chef's Table at Providence. I'm picking up my phone again to cancel Melisse and Bastide now. As much as we want to try Bastide (only patio seating available on our day), we've decided to wait till the weather gets nicer.

                      Have you decide on your Life Day option?

                      1. re: fdb

                        We always do the Chef's Table and Chef's TM and it is better than ever. Just there 2 weeks ago with a small group of 6 for lunch which is calmer and relaxed. Definitely one of the top 3 restaurants in LA if not the Pinnacle?.

                        1. re: russkar

                          Hi russkar,

                          I trust your opinions a lot, but are you saying Providence is even better than Urasawa? :) (I've been to Providence - Love It! - but still haven't made it out to Urasawa yet. Soon, though!)

                          1. re: exilekiss

                            Urasawa is not comparable to Providence in $ or food types.
                            We really like them both, a lot!
                            Providence has been getting even better over time which is hard to imagine and for $160- pp , Chef's TM @ Chef's Table, is fantastic.
                            Urasawa is $275- pp and absolutely amazing, went a month ago. Impossible to compare. Flip a coin?
                            Totoraku next Month.

                            1. re: russkar

                              Finally found a thread on Totoraku with an address and phone number, yet tell us more about what's the deal with this place.

                              However, the phone number is incorrect - it should read:

                              1. re: carter

                                Went last night with 20 friends and had an amazing dinner again.
                                $200- ea inclusive, a deal for what we had.
                                Reservations are by referral only.

                    2. re: fdb

                      I'm going in two weeks and asked the same question when I made a rez. Yes, the entire table has to order the same TM although if you are lucky and sit at the Chef's Table, you're not required to order the Chef's TM.

                      Of course, allergies or related issues can be accomodated. In my case, my wife is pregnant so she can't have any raw/rare prep.

                      1. re: vinosnob

                        I'm told we have to order Chef's Menu for the entire Chef's Table on a Saturday night.

                        1. re: fdb

                          On a Satuday night, that makes sense since it's during the weekend rush. We're eating during the week...

                    3. re: russkar

                      Bastide DOES allow outside bottles and they do not have a corkage fee.

                      1. re: breakfastofchampions

                        B of C, YOur WRONG!
                        Bastide does NOT allow outside wines and does not have a corkage fee because it's unnecessary.

                    4. "Bastide was our favorite restaurant, food and ambiance wise, when Giraud was cooking there. Haven't been to Valentino in 4+ years. Last time at Providence, we ordered off the menu."

                      Giraud's new place in Santa Monica might be open by then :)!

                      If not, then I would say any of the above.

                      My friends like valentino and say that it is on fire right now. It is as good as its ever been.

                      According to chowhound, Bastide is firing on all cylinders as well.

                      AS for providence, some people love it, some people dont really get it, but it has always been at the top of its game.

                      That being said, it depends on what you like. If you like more experimental food, providence is good.

                      I hear Valentinos tasting menu as of late has been very good. Its high end cuisine, but not quite as experimental as Providence (e.g. less foams). It also has other proteins than seafood.

                      Bastide is also more on the experimental side of things, but I hear the dessert, bread, atmosphere and wine list are all fantastic.

                      If it were me, since Valentino has been good (so I hear from friends) as of late, I would go there.

                      1. Can someone give me a breakdown of prices of the different tasting menus at Providence, w/ parings and w/o?

                        1 Reply
                        1. Stop! Before you get your heart set on the Chef Table at Providence, you should know that it seats a maximum of only 6 people and you are a party of 8. They do have a nice round table in the main dining room though that could accomodate you.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: deek

                            and you can get the chef's tasting at ANY table, even the 10% off "worst table in the house! (which only seats two)

                            1. re: deek

                              Forgot to mention that 2 people can't come, so it's 6 of us now. Thanks.