Need a place either in LA or OC for wedding anniversary: knock your socks off type
For our wedding anniversary last year, we went to Stone Hill Tavern and her birthday Marche Moderne. It was really nice. I am hoping to top myself this year. We don't drink wine so that's not important, but I would love to know ball park totals for 2 (app, main, dessert w/o wine). So I need some suggestions. I know she'll want to get all dressed up so something upscale is the goal with a nice WOW factor. I am almost resigned to going to LA as I can't come up with a topper in OC. As our anni falls on a weekend this year, I am up to an LA excursion from OC (if its worth is):
Some of my initial thoughts:
Melisse (may break the budget)
I'll take any others...
On my bday this year, I went to both MM & Stonehill Tavern (in one day!). =D
I too would recommend Napa Rose, and would go as far to say that it's one of OC's Top 3 (with ST also in there). While the other guests might be dressed casually (it *is* in the middle of DTD/D'land), the food & service is top notch.
Stonehill and Marche Moderne were two very nice choices. We also like Onotria very much, but its more rustic, and not necessarily a dress to the nines sort of place.
My wife and I went to Providence for our anniversary this year, largley based on the rave reviews on this board, and did not have a good experience. Much of this was due to service issues and the rests. unwillingness and/or inability to accommodate my shellfish allergy in connection with the chef's menu. Apart from that, the service was still poor (our waiter and sommelier abandonned us during the evening, and I was served a shellfish amuse notwithstanding the shellfish allergy) and the food was good to great. Two other caveats: one, don't expect any special treatment for your anniversary. All the rest. did for us was put a small b-day candle on the dessert we ordered. Second, its not in the greatest part of town. A lot of people swear by Providence and how great and accommodating the service is, but our experience was quite different. The end result is that my wife never wants to go back, and I certainly would not go back for a special occastion.
We also went to Melisse for my wife's b-day. We loved this place. The food was great and the service was very attentive, particularly from the sommelier. There's also a nice little touch that they have what amount to foot stools for ladies to put their purses on. And its Santa Monica, which makes for a more pleasant drive from OC. I've only been there once, so I can't speak to consistency.
In OC, you may want to consider Studio at Montage. The food is quite good and if you get a table by the window, the ocean views are spectacular and very romantic.
Just about all of your options listed are good ones, but since you specified WOW factor I have to support Spago. Puck's flagship, outstanding food -- you could do a tasting menu, order from the regular menu, or save room and splurge on Sherry Yard's outstanding desserts. Superlative service, wonderful rooms -- it may be getting a bit cool at night for dinner on the patio after sunset. Huge star factor. An additional plus -- even non-foodies or 'hounds will recognize its name and envy your wife when she tells them where you took her.
A few thoughts on some of the others: You will be missing perhaps the main strength of Valentino if you don't order wine. There have been at least two recent long reviews of Sona on this board, with links to blogs that include numerous photos -- be sure to look them over because reactions to Sona are quite strong in both directions. Mozza is still hot and the food can be bold and outstanding, but the noise (loud soundtrack) and bustling vibe of the place may not make for a relaxed, celebratory anniversary. Maybe hit the Pizzeria for lunch. Finally, if you and your wife are Top Chef fans, you might want to consider Craft.
I have been researching and Ortolan seems really nice as well. I guess I need to pair it down. Our normal (slightly special) occasion place is Ti Amo in Laguna. Nice and romantic. So I am hoping for the next level.
Hmm...budget may not be as important as i thought.
She was very wowed by Stonehill last year...so I have to top myself ;)
From your list, I think Providence has the best "wow" factor. For prices, see their website: www.providencela.com. The tasting menu is really worth it if it is in your budget. That would be my #1 pick. You might also consider Hatfield's, Grace, or Josie, which aren't on your list. They all have websites with pricing.