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between Palos Verdes and Porter Ranch

truefoodie Jan 23, 2008 07:42 AM

Need a suggestion for 3 couples for next Friday night - Santa Monica, Downtown, something mid-way. Hubby and I are eating at Ortolan on Sat. and Bashan on Sunday so - preferably not French. We have exhausted the DineLa list (nothing thrilling - maybe Grace?), considered Musha (never have been) and just keep coming up empty handed. Any hot ideas from the CH-crew? We will be celebrating a bday and a wedding anniv. Open to your suggestions... please help. (BYOB no or low corkage would be a plus but not a deal breaker either way)...

  1. Servorg Jan 23, 2008 09:00 AM

    What about the newish Abode in Santa Monica? Pretty equidistant between your groups. Also there is Valentino in Santa Monica (on the inland - Eastern edge). We have not been that impressed but we have never done the tasting menu and Russkar swears by it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg
      truefoodie Jan 23, 2008 09:34 AM

      don't know Adobe - what can you tell me? Have you been? I like Valentino but their TM may be a bit pricey for one of the couples...would like to try and keep it to about $150-200 per couple w/o wine but w/tax and tip.

      1. re: truefoodie
        Servorg Jan 23, 2008 10:14 AM

        I recall that I had the black cod and that the food tasted very, very fresh and it was beautifully presented. The restaurant is also very attractive. Here is there web site: http://www.aboderestaurant.com/

        One other place I thought of just off the PCH up Sunset a mile or so is il Carpaccio. Lovely food and excellent service.

        http://www.ilcarpaccioristorante.com

    2. d
      Diana Jan 23, 2008 09:27 AM

      In Northridge, Alexis Greek Cafe.

      In Sherman Oaks Il Tiramisu (something like $5 corkage)

      On Fairfax, Rahel (no corkage, ethiopian)

      I think yoou'd like Musha.

      Also consider Joe's in Venice

      Upstairs 2

      Jiraffe

      Gorikee (Woodland Hills)

      Fogo De Chao

      Chaya

      Vert

      14 Replies
      1. re: Diana
        truefoodie Jan 23, 2008 09:36 AM

        SFV is too far for those travelling from PV -
        had Ethiopian in NYC and was like eating paste on Dr. Schol's innersoles... I am an adventurous/ethnic eater but Ethopian didn't really thrill me...
        any other thoughts?

        1. re: truefoodie
          d
          Diana Jan 23, 2008 09:46 AM

          Sorry, your post says "Between Palos Verdes and Porter Ranch."

          All those places I mentioned fit that criteria!

          I think you hit a bad Ethiopian palce, the ones in LA are divine!

          1. re: Diana
            truefoodie Jan 23, 2008 10:38 AM

            Sorry - meant mid-way between...
            My cousin swore by the place in Manhattan but who knows? Was a bunch of pasty piles of lentil and such goop and weird foam rubber bread...what do you order at Rahel? If we do Musha, is SM the same as Torrance? Do they have small tatami rooms for 6?

            1. re: truefoodie
              d
              Diana Jan 23, 2008 11:00 AM

              YEs the Mushas are the same. I believe they have tatami rooms.

              The bread "injera" at LA ethiopian palces is not rubbery at all-it is thick and spongy and yummy. There are piles of stewed lentils and beans, fresh salady veggies, chickpeas, zuccini, as well as different meats if you go to a non veggie place like MEssob. Beef Tibs, whole fried fish, chicken, some places even have tripe. Most places also have sambussas, little fired dumplings with meat or lentil fillings.

              I love Rahel's besso drink, sort of a thin shake made with grain and sweetened. The ethiopian coffee service is also fun!

              Maybe not this time, but I reccomend giving LA ethiopian places a try

              I like Rahel (vegetarian) And Messob (meat and veggies). Go with a group and get some combo platters.

        2. re: Diana
          j
          JillPickle Jan 25, 2008 12:50 PM

          Avoid Alexis Cafe unless you like eating in the atmosphere of an ice box and are willing to be a victim of the crime of eating baklava with cinnamon sprinkled on top of it as if to give the joint a little class.

          Cafe Graikos down a few doors from the Whole Foods Porter Ranch has much better food but also a bad atmosphere. The owner sees nothing wrong with a little mist from Windex while you are sitting next to tthe windows being cleaned. His servers must be busy at all times and there's always a Help Wanted sign on the door.

          M Cafe de Chaya is grody. It's a fast food commercial outlet and sushi should never be premade and displayed in a cold case.

          1. re: JillPickle
            d
            Diana Jan 25, 2008 01:38 PM

            Jill, I find Alexis perfectly lovely. The staff and owners are all wonderful and treat us like kings and queens. Fatima, wife of Alexis and co owner and chef, comes to every table when she's in, and smiles and chats.. I hae never experienced it as anything but warm and welcoming, and the greek and portuguese food is Divine (also, I've seen cinnamon on baklava many places!) Alexis HAS class. Food and service wise, Graikos does not compete

            I suppose you had a bad experience there, and I'm sorry! But it is nothing like you describe.

            M Cafe de Chaya is NOT a "fast food commercial outlet." It is owned by the same guy as Chaya, and is meant to be a sort of quick stop deli. The sushi there is good for premade, and was probably made within an hour or two. The food there is pretty good!

            Chaya and M cafe De Chaya, however are NOT the same restaraunt!

            1. re: Diana
              j
              JillPickle Jan 25, 2008 01:45 PM

              Diana, with all respect, you can have your experience of a place and I can have my experience of a place but you don't have to trump me or correct me. I've eaten tons of Greek food, I've lived in Greece and I find Alexis sucks.
              You think it's good. That's great. I wish you many happy meals there. I will never go there again.

              1. re: JillPickle
                d
                Diana Jan 25, 2008 01:51 PM

                To each her own! I've never lived in Greece at all. I don't think that would disqualify my opinion. I lived in Georgia and England, but I wouldn't consider myself the eminent Southern or English food expert. Although I guess it might.

                heck, I don't even LIKE Coke, and I am allergic to peanuts. Two things a Georgia Gal is expected to love.

                I think raisins in scones is not just gross, it's a crime!

                And I do know that M Cafe De Chaya and Chaya are two owned by the same guy but very distinct and different places. :)

                (if you ever sneak back in to Alexis, try the Rabbit or the calamari in a crock! You really are missing out!)

                1. re: Diana
                  j
                  JillPickle Jan 25, 2008 01:59 PM

                  Unfortunately I've given up flesh. I can't ignore the fact I'm grossed out by it any more. And it's beyond me too, I can't understand myself why I can't eat meat/fish anymore.

                  One time I was walking to Eftalou from Molivos on the island a Lesbos. I was wondering what the rhythmic pounding sound was. As I drew closer, I saw it was a fisherman tenderizing an octopus on the wharf. Calamari does taste good but then I think of how beautiful and sentient these creatures are. When they swim it looks like they have little hands.

                  We do agree on some things I've noticed over the past year: the scones at Lena's are to kill for.

                  I'm from Arkansas and Tennessee. Down there we like to pour our Cokes into a sauce pan, heat it up and have a hot steaming coke. Well, I didn't but I know people who did.

                  1. re: JillPickle
                    d
                    Diana Jan 25, 2008 02:17 PM

                    Do you mean the Scones at Leda's? Yes, they are AWESOME!

                    I've used coke to glaze a roast ham. best use for it, unless it's a Coke cake

                    Octopus are so very smart, I know. Calamari, however, is squid, not octopus.

                    I don't know how smart squid are.

                    I eat them both. I don't eat much pork (pigs are smart, too) or beef (cows are pretty stupid, but sweet). but that's more of a fat digestion issue. if I ate things based on brainpower alone, I'd have to eat a few of the people I know out there. They all have hands, too (well, most of them) but that doesn't mean they are smart. Hands just mean you can hold things.

                    Any kind of meat eating requires sacrifice of an animal. I hate cruel slaughterhouses, but then I think about natural preditors.

                    Ever seen a lion kill a baby gnu? or a wolf pack pull down and devour a carabou? or a group of crocodiles spin as they tear chunks of meat from a dying hippo?

                    even certain plants require death for fertilization, or kill other plants as they climb for the sun.

                    My point? Very few natural eating invovles the eater thinking about how the eaten feels about it. I just wish that we gave our prey more of a chance. I actually have repect for people who hunt with just a gun and their wits, and who eat what they take. Our mechanized raising and slaughter of prey is high volume and cruel.

                    I've seen an octopus stalk, pounce on, kill and eat its prey. These beautiful, sentient creatures don't give the feelings of their prey a second thought. They cunningly sneak up, leap out, wrap around it, often rip off any offending bits, use a sharp beak to crack it or slice it open and eat away-often with the prey still alive. I imagine that in the water by the Greek fishermen, there were a lot of fish and other sea creatures who had lived in terror of the hunting octopus. I bet they were cheering.

                2. re: JillPickle
                  m
                  markn Jan 25, 2008 01:58 PM

                  Have to go with Diana on this one....I have eaten at both numerous times and in my opinion Alexis is superior to Graikos in all aspects...food, service, decor. Actually I live about a block from Cafe Graikos but I routinely drive the extra distance to Alexis. The last few times I was at CG, the service was practically non-existent (high school kids chatting away on their cell phones while tables are waiting for service). Their vegetarian dishes are not bad, but the meat and shrimp dishes are awful. On the other hand I always find the food at Alexis to be extremely fresh and tasty. And Fatima has never been anything but pleasant.

                  Of course, as always, your mileage may vary.

                  1. re: markn
                    truefoodie Jan 25, 2008 04:45 PM

                    Ditto on Alexis...although the soup at Graikos is pretty good. However, neither wouuld be my favorite and for quality of food, & if I'm wanting Mediterranean and it doesn't have to be Souvlaki or Pastitio, I'd rather order out from Falafel Palace or that kabob joint on White Oak.

                    1. re: truefoodie
                      m
                      markn Jan 25, 2008 05:22 PM

                      But you can't get that heavenly moussaka at Felafel Palace...... :-)

            2. re: Diana
              mstinawu Jan 27, 2008 01:18 PM

              M-Grill on Wilshire >>>>>>>>> Fogo de Chao

            3. katkoupai Jan 23, 2008 09:51 AM

              I think Westwood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica or Marina del Rey would be good meeting points.

              I like Shamshiri Grill in Westwood. Shahrzade is also good. Both of these are Persian restaurants. They serve various kabobs, basmanti rice and Persian stews.

              Shamshiri Grill
              1712 Westwood Blvd
              Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA
              (310) 474-1410

              There is a place called Providence that a lot of people mention on Chowhound. I don't know if it's good or what kind of food they offer, but the name came to mind when I read your original post. It seems like it would be expensive and a nice place to celebrate. It looks like it's in Hollywood. The link below has nice pictures and other info.

              http://www.providencela.com/

              Providence
              5955 Melrose Ave
              Los Angeles, CA 90038

              How about a restaurant with an ocean view in Santa Monica or Malibu? I personally like Duke's because the view of the water is so nice, but many others don't like it, and it is a chain restaurant. I don't know if it would be fancy enough for this occasion, but I like it.

              Dukes, Malibu
              (310) 317-0777
              www.dukesmalibu.com
              21150 Pacific Coast Hwy
              Malibu, CA 90265

              1 Reply
              1. re: katkoupai
                d
                Diana Jan 23, 2008 10:30 AM

                Providence is VERY good. Pricey, but worth it. One of the best fine dining experiences I have had in LA

              2. truefoodie Jan 25, 2008 11:26 AM

                This is harder than was anticipated! We now have several reservations (of course we will cancel in advance if we are not going) and still can't seem to decide on anything... I like MUSHA but others would prefer something a little more upscale. Giraffe, Chaya, Cafe Pinot (LOVE no corkage as we have quite a few really nice bottles- but Pinot is just ok in my book) and Ocean have gotten support (all DineLa pix) but none are new nor exciting...what is the post-TM Opus like? Haven't been since they discontinued that and have never ordered off the menu there. Will they still do the TM if your reserve ahead? Love Providence (did the TM both times & it was fab) but too pricey for this outing. Looking for a great, creative, total find idea from those in the know... and now that it is only 1 week away, probably need it fast! Thanks in advance.

                1 Reply
                1. re: truefoodie
                  m
                  markn Jan 25, 2008 11:43 AM

                  Been there......I live in Porter Ranch and my brother lives in PV.

                  Brentwood is a good mid-point. Lots of good Italian choices there.....Pizzicotto, Vincente. Do a search on Brentwood Italian you will find lots of info.

                  In SM you have Jiraffe, Josie both very good. Or Joe's in Venice.

                  Have you been to Mako? We had a bday dinner there a couple years ago and everyone LOVED it. Great fun as you can order lots of small plates and it's served family style.

                2. r
                  rachel12 Jan 25, 2008 11:58 PM

                  P.S. Just went to Josie, and it was nothing special.

                  1. SauceSupreme Jan 27, 2008 02:53 PM

                    I say the tatami room at Musha in Santa Monica is the way to go. It's cozy without being stuffy, semi-private and there's a lot of fun things on the menu. For something a little bit more refined, Jiraffe is a good call also.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: SauceSupreme
                      truefoodie Feb 2, 2008 02:53 PM

                      Musha was terrifc... not much in the way of ambiance but the food was delish! We asked the chef if he would do an omakase for us which he did... that way we could all visit and talk and the dishes just kept coming...everything was really good. Dishes included shrimp spring rolls, spicy tuna which is served like a spread with little rice crackers, a seared albacore salad, some rockin' fried shimp dish, pork belly with potato and egg that was melt in your mouth delicious, manilla clams with rice noodles, mushrooms and garlic, asparagus with mushrooms, fried chicken, octupus omelete, brown rice cheese rissoto, grilled salmon, and tofu the consistency of a thick, whipped yogurt served with sea salt, bonita flakes, green onion and soy sauce to season to taste that was surprisingly fantastic. We had 3 desserts: maple brulee (pudding carmelized table side), a chocolate souffle (more like cake - tasty - just not souffle) and an apple tartin that was probably the best of the three but still merely something passable and sweet to top off the meal. At $10/corkage I highly recommend you BYOB - we and our firends each brought fabulous champagne since we were celebrating and between the bubbles and the tatami room, the lack of ambiance didn't prevent it from feeling sort of festive in a way... Best of all, much to our surprise and delight, after adding an extra $40 to the included gratuity(sensitive to the BYOB effect), dinner was only $100/couple!!! Which is the cheapest dinner of this quality and quantity that any of us had had in a very, very long time! A definite winner - we'll be back! So glad we gave it a shot. Great recommendation.
                      But, enough about Musha - tonight dinner is at Ortolan!!!

                      1. re: truefoodie
                        mstinawu Feb 2, 2008 03:37 PM

                        Didn't know you could do omakase at Musha.. I wonder if they do that at our local location (Torrance)..

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