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s.m / venice restaurant help?

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i am a dedicated east-sider, but i am trying to find a good place for a business dinner in the santa monica / venice area for this wk and since it's not my regular 'hood, i nd some help. there will be about 6 people. it shouldn't be too expensive -- this is not about having to make an impression with something fancy. the crowd is young, creative, not suits. it's a fashion crowd, so something with a little bit of style would be good, but not too much of a scene -- doesn't nd to be over the top. looking for good food, good drinks, relaxed atmosphere.

i usually think of border grill and i'm usually happy with the food there, but i don't like the environment. it's too loud and the tables are not really comfortable and i don't think the service is very good. i think that chan dara is pretty reliable and a little more comfortable. but i feel like i'm drawing a blank. would love to hear some other suggestions from people that know the area better than me. thx!!

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  1. I recommend Joe's, on Abbott Kinney in Venice. The neighborhood is right up your alley given your description of your group. Food is great, prices are not astronomical, and atmosphere is tony but not really a "scene."

    1. Try 26 Beach Restaurant, 3100 Washington, just west of Lincoln. Good creative food, a nice patio, and reasonable prices, sandwiches, burgers and salads start around $9-10, pasta dishes are around $14-$16, with some of the seafood & steaks around $20. everything comes with a salad. I love this place, it is a great value, and they have some great desserts. If you go, let me know what you think. Enjoy, wherever you go.

      1. I prefer Joe's for anything having to do with the Venice area, but I have had business lunches at Hal's a little further south of Joe's on Abbot Kinney (just before Venice Blvd?). It gets a good mix of business and happy hour people, since they have a bigger bar, and the food is just fine, nothing more. SOme folks swear by it, but not any chowhounds :)

        1. I agree w/ some of the others, Joe's is terrific! If it's a nice evening there's an outdoor patio as well. Don't miss the foie gras & ahi tuna app, it's AMAZING!

          I also suggest Jiraffe (pronounced giraffe) in santa monica which is also wonderful & comfortable (but louder).
          These restaurants are not cheap by any means but not over the top and I have experienced great food & service at both many times. Enjoy!

          1. Chaya Venice beach is a stylish place for young professionals. Although, Friday nights do turn into a scene, They have large round tables in the main dinning area and big loungy booths along the back wall that are perfect for a group of six.

            1. When I had dinner at Axe on Abbott Kinney in Venice the crowd looked just like what you described your group to be. Food was very good and not expensive. Tables are not too close and I didn't think it was noisy. I would never describe the crowd at Joe's as young and artsy, Hal's yes. The room is very artsy and creatively designed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Just Larry

                As a fellow eastsider, I agree. Axe (ah-shay) is just the ticket. One of the most chic restaurant interiors in L.A. -- in a very low key unpretentious way. Delicious, too. I was just there for one of their Sunday night guest home-chef dinners -- my friend cooked -- which is something I highly recommend that others look into...

                For what it's worth, I've been to Hal's twice and I think it's absolutely terrible. Noisy and crowded with obnoxious people in black suits. And the food is tasteless verging on inedible. Never been to Joe's...

              2. I've been to JOE'S many times(none of them memorable). I think 5 DUDLEY is a much stronger choice "food wise" also up a few blocks ROCKENWAGNER and around the corner JOSIE's.

                6 Replies
                1. re: russkar

                  Josie is at least 25 blocks away from Rockenwagner.
                  I would gladly drive those blocks to eat at Josie instead of Rockenwagner.

                  1. re: Just Larry

                    In my several experiences at Joe's and Rockenwagner I have determined that Rockenwagner comes out on top more times than not, but most visits were Special dinners. Try 5 Dudley besides Josie which I really like to.

                    1. re: russkar

                      I love 5 Dudley, but I think it's too small, intimate, and cramped for a group of six to have a comfortable business meeting. Great place for a date, though.

                      I'd recommend James Beach in Venice if the meeting is to take place on a weeknight. They have a great bar, decently priced menu with a good variety of selections, fun atmosphere, and a young, creative crowd (before the late hours when it turns into a pickup spot, at least).

                      1. re: Chris G.

                        If you decide not to go to Axe, James Beach is a good alternate. 5 Dudley is too small. After a group of 4 were there 1 1/2 hours with very slow service, just as we were finishing the last bite of food, and 1/2 hour before the next seating, the owner told us that he needed the table back. We were spending about $400.00 for dinner and we get the bums rush because THEY space the courses 30 minutes apart? I will never go there again. Axe was very curtious and the food was very good.

                        1. re: Just Larry

                          I've heard this complaint about 5 Dudley before, but I have never found the service to be slow, especially for the type of restaurant that it is. I usually opt for the later seatings so I can dine at my leisure. Sometimes that means that I have had to wait outside in the cold anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes after my reservation time to be seated while the table before me lingered as long as possible.

                          However, I blame this on the patrons' selfishness, and not the staff's service. While I was waiting, the servers and even the chef came outside to apologize for the wait and said that they were trying to politely move the customers along. Meanwhile, they poured my party complimentary glasses of wine. I watched as the couple inside sat there with the bill in front of them, chatting away obliviously without reaching for their wallets.

                          5 Dudley is a very small place (maybe 10 tables total?) with very personal service, so they are operating on a very tight schedule. When people arrive late for their reservations, take too long to order, etc., it can throw the timing off. I don't think most customers are aware of this, and because the atmosphere is so inviting and cozy they have a tendency to take their time.

                          Considering my past experiences, I don't see why they would try to get you to leave 30 minutes before the next party. Perhaps you have the wrong impression that they do two distinct seatings (maybe you were given two reservation times when you called?). Actually, the seatings are staggered so you don't have patrons clamoring for tables and meals at the same time.

                          Sorry to hear that you'll never go there again, but that's okay. It's already hard enough to get a reservation as it is.

                          1. re: Chris G.

                            The reason the meal took so long is that the entrees came 45 minutes after we finished the appetizers. There is no way we could finish our meal in time. You must really love this place to wait 45 minutes out in the cold for a table.