Spago - Ortolan - Melisse - Providence?
My sister's birthday is coming up next month and we're trying to decide which restaurant to go to for her birthday dinner.
She was interested in French Contemporary food...or any fine dining that had innovative dishes and stuff. Preferably one with a prix fixe menu...
Here are a few that we have narrowed down to:
Can anyone who has been to these places tell us which is best?
If anyone has any other places they would like to recommend, please do!
My personal favorite is Providence but I've been to all 4 and you can't go wrong with any of them. They are all superlative and they all have multi-course (and multi-hour) tasting menus that are prix fixe. I personally prefer Spago and Providence but that probably has more to do with my own taste preferences (veering away from French) and continued enjoyment of chatting with Wolfgang as he brings me dishes. If French contemporary is favored I'd give the nod to Ortolan as I tend to find Christophe Eme's cooking to be a bit more innovative and playful than Josiah Citrin's. Others may well disagree.
With Providence, make sure she wants to eat seafood. As to rating them, I place Providence and Melisse below the other two, yet if she has not been to Spago, then by all means, that should be the choice. And if weather permits, the patio is truly a wonderful setting to be dining in true LA style. To me, Ortolan is a little over the top in the decor category, while Melisse feels quite stuffy.
You could surely add Lucques and Sona to the list, with Lucques my personal favorite. Very recently rated atop the Michelin rankings for LA and deservedly so.
In terms of food: Spago and Providence. (The latter is in my opinion the better but if she doesn't like seafood, Spago might be the choice here) I liked the food at Ortolan (again, not as much as Spago and Providence) but the service was really lacking- which is definitely not something you want for a birthday dinner. Melisse was nice but not quite worth the $$$.
However, if she is looking for French, Ortolan and Melisse are more "French".
I would say that of the list, Melisse is the best bet for quality French-contemporary. All the others are quite good as well though, and the recommendation of Sona is also excellent. Lucques is a great place, but might not be quite the thing you're looking for as they lack a tasting/prix fixe menu outside of their simple, but wonderful, three course sunday suppers.
If other than French is acceptable, as Spago and Providence would indicate, I would highly recommend Bastide.