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Birthday Dinner - Where Should I Go?

Jwsel May 5, 2008 11:15 AM

My mother asked me where I want to go for my birthday on a Saturday night in a few weeks. She suggested Melisse, to which I have been, so I am wondering what other places people might suggest. I think we are aiming for a price range of approximately $100 without drinks, so Urusawa is out of the question.

There are a few wrinkles, however.

My stepfather cannot eat a lot of foods. He has long avoided shellfish and pork, but he now cannot eat red meat, dairy, or anything spicy.

My mother does not want a tasting menu, though she said she would be okay if others at the table had one. (I believe that Melisse only does a tasting menu if everyone has one, which would also be impossible with my stepfather's dietary restrictions.) I generally like to avoid situations where a few people have a tasting menu and others do not, because it makes it difficult for the kitchen to time things and you wind up with the awkward situation of some people having food and others having nothing.

One of my brothers dislikes fish, though that is a minor consideration.

I do not want to go to any place that will be very noisy. I like to be able to have a conversation.

I'm thinking Providence may be a good bet, but most of the recommendations I have seen have been for the tasting menu. What is it like for an ala carte options? And are there enough non-fish items that PITA brother won't spend the entire evening complaining?

And other suggestions?

  1. ipsedixit May 5, 2008 11:38 AM

    How about Hatfield's or Fraiche?

    1. n
      New Trial May 5, 2008 02:57 PM

      There are a few (very well-prepared) non-fish items at Providence but the fish/seafood is the focus and the tasting menu is the best way to experience it. Ordering a la carte is still terrific, though, and there is the wonderful dessert tasting menu. Another terrific option, if the fish issue is insurmountable, would be Ortolan.

      1. Emme May 5, 2008 04:49 PM

        La Cachette might be a great choice because they do a whole veggie menu, w/ a daily vegan soup too.

        Grace is another great option for the pickier eaters, and if you call in advance, they'll certainly try to accommodate all your "pickies."

        Upstairs2 might also be worth considering, though it's a bit noisier.

        Happy Happy Birthday!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Emme
          ElissaInPlaya May 6, 2008 01:22 PM

          Grace sounds right to me too. Or Axe maybe?

          1. re: Emme
            DanaB May 7, 2008 08:34 AM

            I was going to suggest Grace as well. It's elegant, quieter than some of the other upscale places around town, and they are good about accomodating diners with special requests (i.e. it is a popular option for dining parties that want an upscale meal that includes omnivores/vegetarians/vegans).


            While I love Providence, there strength *is* seafood, so if you have people in your group who don't want seafood, their choices will be somewhat limited. Also, I think it is best if you go there for the tasting menu, and if that is not what your mother's preference is, I think another restaurant would be a better fit for this particular get-together.

          2. Debbie W May 5, 2008 06:38 PM

            I think you've gotten some good suggestions, but I would add Craft. The menu is definitely wide-ranging and should pose no problems for your stepdad or brother. Since items are shared, I think your price range is very doable. It's not too loud either. Not sure how large your party is but maybe request one of the big booths along the wall.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Debbie W
              Jwsel May 5, 2008 07:53 PM

              Craft is a good suggestion, but I work next door and have gone several times, so I would like something a bit different. I have a similar reaction of La Cachette, since I have gone there repeatedly for business dinners.

              I think Hatfields, Providence or Melisse are probably the top choices, but I'm open to any other suggestions.

              1. re: Jwsel
                archer May 5, 2008 09:26 PM

                If it's a nice night, the patio at the Foundry on Melrose would be delightful & the menu should satisfy everyone. On the Westside, how about Josie?

                1. re: Jwsel
                  Nicole May 6, 2008 09:15 AM

                  I don't think I would go to Providence with a non-fish eater. I think Hatfield's would be perfect for your needs.

              2. d
                Diana May 6, 2008 01:25 PM

                Chaya? (Not M Chaya, but CHaya in Venice)

                PRovidence is also good for lunch.


                1 Reply
                1. re: Diana
                  westsidegal May 7, 2008 12:13 AM

                  chaya venice is noisy.

                2. westsidegal May 7, 2008 12:11 AM

                  your brother will not have very much choice at providence. when i went there, my impression of the menu was that it was heavily skewed toward fish and foie gras.

                  in your situation, i would chose michael's in santa monica; the setting is beautiful, the tables are not shoved together one on top of the other as they are in so many other high-end restaurants, the food is very good, and the menu will offer plenty of choices for everyone.

                  main courses are mostly in the low $40's, which should allow you to meet your budget.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: westsidegal
                    Diana May 7, 2008 07:09 AM

                    Heck, it's th OP's birthday, not her brother's.

                    Providence has Wagyu beef as well as other non fish items on the menu. Steaks and such. Donato, if he knows ahead there is a non fish eater, can comply

                    Stil, it is a pricier option

                  2. j
                    Jwsel May 7, 2008 08:00 AM

                    Thanks for the recommendations. We had to move the dinner to Sunday night because of a conflict, which eliminated Melisse and Hatfields, which both appear closed on Sundays. So we booked Providence, and my brother will have to cope. I'm actually fine with that since it is one of the restaurants in LA that I have wanted to try for a long time, but have never managed to find an occasion.

                    Diana, I will probably call the restaurant and try to outline some of the dietary restrictions and dislikes.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Jwsel
                      Diana May 7, 2008 12:08 PM

                      Restrictions are more important than dislikes, but there will be a few dishes for bro to choose from. When you call, ask Donato what non fish options are possible for that Sunday. And tell him it's your birthday! Trust me, Donato delivers on special occasions!

                      Let him know Diana said Providence was the bets place to go for your Birthday!

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