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Tasting Menu Suggestions?

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I am planning a special birthday dinner for my best friend (who will be celebrating one of those "milestone" birthdays!) and our respective partners.

I would appreciate any suggestions for a wonderful tasting menu that also offers a wine pairing which will not totally bankrupt me! I'm not trying to be cheap, but I need to stay somewhat sensible. I am looking for the best bang for the buck in this category. Sona and Ortolan will probably be out as too cost prohibitive. I would also like a great vibe/ambiance coupled with warm and efficient service. Help! Please!

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  1. I'd look into Orris - one of the most affordable tasting menus.

    K-Zo has a very affordable one something like 50 bucks.

    Il Grano

    Gonpachi has one for 60 bucks

    Tagine - like 45 bucks for 7 or 8 courses

    Maison Akira

    Foundry on Melrose has one, though it gets mixed reviews on here.

    You might also consider Foxtail.

    Too bad Opus' tasting menu is gone...

    Another helpful link... http://www.chowhound.com/topics/444092

    1. If we were to "up" our budget a bit, which of these do you think would be the most consistent in providing a wonderful evening?

      Grace or Providence

      4 Replies
      1. re: prschouten

        if you're a seafood lover, I'd say Providence. i know there have been a few mixed reviews on here as of late, but in all the times I've been, i've never had a problem with food or service.

        also, which *big birthday* are we talking? the atmospheres are different between the two, and perhaps one more conducive based upon what kind of overall feel you're looking for in the evening.

        1. re: Emme

          Thanks Emme. My BFF is turning 50! But, he is definitely a young 50! I'd love it if you would share a bit more about the ambience/atmosphere at each!

          1. re: prschouten

            One more for comparison and your opinion:

            Hatfields

            Thanks for whatever you can share on each and why it might be a great pick!

            1. re: prschouten

              they both have a romantic quality to them if you're looking for that. somehow i think of grace as a little more classic and vanilla, and providence a little more hip and slightly more edgy. i'm sure others will chime in as well. if you are considering these two, i think sona would be worth checking out as well.

        2. You don't indicate a location preference, but in central OC the Old Vine Cafe on Bristol in Costa Mesa is very good. $65. excellent food with unusual and generous pairings. Three tasting menus. Fixed, seasonal and vegetarian