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Westside Dinner Alternative to Nook

Friends coming from San Francisco. The plan was to go to Nook on Friday night but they are booked. Any ideas for an equivalent alternative?

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    1. re: a_and_w

      agree w/ violet.

      casual american also at 26 beach in venice.

      cafe montana and 17th st cafe also have similar traditional and comforty food types as well.

      musha might be another way to go.

      similar to the good idea of jiraffe, rustic canyon or axe,

      1. re: silence9

        Jiraffe is another excellent choice.

      2. Bandera on Wilshire & Barrington. Excellent American food and in particular, the best French dip in the city (made with their prime rib)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ernie

          $20 seems a little steep for a French dip sandwich, but this place nonetheless sounds intriguing. I especially like that they have Allagash White on tap, according to menupages.

          1. re: a_and_w

            Definitely try it! The crab cakes and cornbread are also fantastic. Big fan of their mixed drinks as well, especially the bloody mary, which all use fresh juices. It's owned by the same restaurant group as Houston's so if you've had the french dip there, it's the same at Bandera. It's my favorite chain.

        2. Once I called Nook to make a reservation, but they were booked, so I asked the host if he had any other suggestions in the area. He recommended Fraiche ( www.fraicherestaurantla.com ). I have not been there yet, but it recently received a rave review in the New York Times ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/din... ). I suppose you could do a search for it on the chowhound boards as well... if you go, please let us know how it is!

          1. Go to Nook anyway. They don't reserve after 8, and they say if you came in then, a normal wait for a four-top on a busy Friday would be about 45 mins. I'm a big fan of Nook, so I understand why you called them first. A few years ago, many were comparing Literati 2 to Nook, but I found it much more expensive and pretentious, and I hated paying for a valet in a shopping center. I'd get myself on a waiting list at Nook, and if I needed to kill a bit of time I'd go across the street and a bit down east and have some crudo at Il Grano since Nook doesn't really have a bar area to wait.

            4 Replies
            1. re: nosh

              I like Nook but I also think Literati 2 was nice. I've been twice and I've had perfectly fine meals there and the staff was attentive and friendly. I didn't find they had anything to be pretentious about since they don't aspire to such great heights to begin with. The space is fancier and less homey than Nook but I found I preferred it to Violet, which I also think is decent. I also just park on the far outskirts of the lot for Vons and I've never had a problem, although I can see not wanting to risk that.

              The bottom line is that while Nook is nice, it's only worth waiting for if you have a specific craving for it. You can go to a number of restaurants in the area that are comparable in quality, price, and experience.

              These include (many mentioned already):

              Bar Hayama
              Literati 2
              Rustic Canyon

              1. re: Frommtron

                What did you like at Literati 2? One time I tried it, I was underwhelmed.

                1. re: a_and_w

                  I had a fritto misto at Literati 2 that was crispy and light and tasty, but the portion was so skimpy as to be insulting. Their burger from the woodburning oven was smoky and gave up almost all its juice when cut into, but then again they nickel and dime you by adding a couple of bucks for cheese (unneeded) or fries (yeah, not everyone wants them, but this is a high-end maincourse burger in the midteens anyway). The service was oversolicitous, and I just can't get over being charged for valet or risking getting towed or ticketed in the Ralph's (not Von's) big parking lot, where Literati is off in a corner not even requiring the prime close parking slots for the supermarket.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    I had the bruschetta with baby octopus and the roasted brown turkey figs. For my entree I had the pork chop. I thought they were all quite good and I was pleased although since I had neither a horrendous experience like nosh nor a sublime one I can't remember enough of to comment on a meal that I had nearly a year ago. It was certainly at the same level of quality and taste as what Nook offers.

                    In terms of parking, I'm comfortable parking illegally at Ralph's. Also, a huge number of restaurants do not have free self parking. Literati 2 is not alone in that. There is limited parking on the street nearby. It's not really an issue for me.

                    The burger doesn't sound good to me from nosh's review but I'm also not phased even a little by the fries being a la carte. That's a very common practice and one that I appreciate. For instance, at Father's Office I'll order the beet salad more often than the fries.

                    I personally prefer Nook because I like the atmosphere more but I think Literati 2 and Violet are very much in the same vein and offer up a comparable experience. They have real differences but I think they each have merit.

              2. totally different vein but go across the street (sm blvd) and go to terried sake house. very low key izakaya.

                15 Replies
                1. re: wilafur

                  I'd go to Place, Musha, Bar Hayama, Nambankan, or even FuRaiBo before I went back to Terried Sake House. I've only been once but I just couldn't get into that place. I thought it was thunderously loud, most of the interesting yakitori options were not available, the sushi they offered wasn't flavorful and most of the small plates were just alright for me. I don't know if I need to give it another shot and I was just out of sorts that day but it didn't do it for me.

                  1. re: Frommtron

                    First I've heard of Place. What's the story?

                    I got burnt badly my first experience at Nook so I'm hesitant to go back. What are the must order items? I had the burger last time but found Hungry Cat's or Father's Office much better. Also had a fish dish which was over-salted.

                    1. re: ElJeffe

                      I guess they go by Place Yu officially these days. When I started going I think it was just called Place or at least that's how I always knew it.

                      Too bad about Nook. It's not mind-blowing destination food but it's exactly what it claims -- a neighborhood bistro serving solid food. Hopefully you'll give it another shot. I've had plenty a good meal there. The mussels and the pork belly are excellent. I could make a meal of those two. The steak frites and pork chop are really nice. I sometimes get a craving for the gulf shrimp and grits which must mean that it's my favorite thing there. My wife is in love with the roasted squash and chickpea stew and the mac and cheese is well regarded all around.

                      1. re: Frommtron

                        The shrimp and grits is my favorite dish there as well. That with a side of mac and cheese to share and I'm a happy girl.

                        1. re: Frommtron

                          i am so sad the braised short rib is gone. has anyone tried the replacement pot roast?

                          1. re: wilafur

                            It is good--not Jar good, though--and the cut (if not actually boned short ribs) was reminiscent of the short ribs.

                        2. re: ElJeffe

                          Place Yuu rocks. Izakaya and very good sushi. Open 'til 1AM. Big-screen TV showing Lakers (if they're on). Don't tell anyone about it. I hate the thought of having to wait for a seat there.

                          1. re: ElJeffe

                            Shrimp with chorizo and grits. I'm not a seafood guy, but their version is outstanding.

                            ETA: LOL! Frommtron and mollyomormon beat me to it...

                          2. re: Frommtron

                            TSH is a hole-in-the-wall and loudness is a great sign in my book. it's a place to grab a quick and cheap meal, have a few brews and catch up with friends.

                            as for your trip, might have been an off day. i've been to TSH at least 8x and the only thing that they did not have during one of my visits was the chicken heart skewers.

                            1. re: wilafur

                              I can see TSH working for that quick meal with some friends. Maybe I'll make it back one day.

                            2. re: Frommtron

                              Don't forget about Raku. Really good Izakaya food for a reasonable price.

                            3. re: wilafur

                              Perhaps an unfair write-off since I've only been once, but I did not care for Terried Sake House at ALL. A few of the yakitori items were unavailable and the ones we did order tasted mostly of char (and not in a good way). Some of the dishes were passable, but out of 6 or 7 different dishes, I can't seem to recall more than 2.

                              The biggest draw seems to be the very low price point, but I would rather have great food at a good price (Musha, or the excellent and easy-to-overlook Izakaya Sasaya, which are izakaya upgrades) or good food at a great price than just okay food at a great price.

                              Banjoboy - Izakaya Sasaya is NOT an equivalent, but I recommend it as an excellent alternative if your party is amenable to Japanese.

                              1. re: no1_stunnah

                                Years ago, I use to go to TSH at least once a week for some yummy late night chow. I recently returned & found it mediocre. It seemed dirty, bright & my old favorites (tofu steak) just weren't the same.

                            4. What about the The Yard in Santa Monica? Nook is my favorite local bistro for sure, but I've been meaning to check this place out. It looks like the food and prices are comparable to Nook.

                              Of course, you can't go wrong with Jiraffe.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: msciara

                                the yard looks interesting. i love how they have HH every day of the week. =)

                                1. re: wilafur

                                  I know! I really want to try The Yard. Wanted to go there tonight, but my friends already made a reservation at Il Fornaio. I actually started a post about it, just asking if anyone had been there, but no one's responded yet. Guess we'll find out soon enough.