Quarter Century Birthday
Looking for the best restaurant in LA for a birthday. Tragically, I'm not FLUSH with cash, so it's looking like my budget for the evening is going to be around $200-250(MAX). The girlfriend and I are looking for someplace that will have great food. Atmosphere is fine, and sometimes contributes to the food, but frankly we're not looking for romantic, or casual, or anything in particular (they're all fine). If the food's good, that's where we want to be.
Really looking for a tasting menu or something similar (wouldn't mind a standard a la carte menu, so long as we can each get an appetizer, entree and dessert). I would love to do the tasting at some place like Melisse, and have my eye on it for the future, but it doesn't appear that there's any way to get out of there for that price (at least if we want to make it the experience we'd like).
The 250(MAX) budget needs to include wine, so if there's a wine pairing with a tasting, hopefully that can be taken into consideration. If that's not possible, we've got some pretty good wine, so a reasonable corkage would be acceptable (but less thrilling).
I will place an emphasis on your focus on the food, rather than the scene or decor. And I will pay particular attention to your price point -- it is no fun having a celebration while counting up how the bill is mounting. So I have two suggestions: Nook Bistro, where you can order starters, entrees, desserts, have wine, and still get out at the lower end of your budget. Very good food, attentive pleasant service, a nice vibe, and the best value in high-quality dining at midrange prices in L.A. (nonethnic). My other rec would be Orris, where you could compose your own progression of small plates into a quasi-tasting menu. They don't take reservations, but you wouldn't be in any particular hurry on your celebratory night. Some of their dishes are amazingly tasty and also fairly unique -- not found on every menu in town.
For comparison, I don't know of any notable tasting menus in town that start at less than $75 or so before wine, so adding tax and tip (and parking) you are already at the lower end of your budget and add even an inexpensive bottle or a couple of glasses of wine each and you've exceeded the high end.
are you open to not going on a saturday night... there are reasonable prix fixes around the city...
Hatfield's market menu ($46pp)
Lucque's Sunday Supper ($40 pp)
Jiraffe has a 3 course bistro menu on Monday nights ($35)
Lou on Vine - Monday Nights 3 courses + wine pairings $55
Campanile - Monday night 3 courses $40
Josie - 3 courses Wednesdays $35
Violet - 3 courses Sundays $25
Joe's on Abbot Kinney has a prix fixe for 60 bucks and I think a tasting menu around 75, to which you could add/bring your own bottle
Emme, you have provided an excellent list of really good special evening meals. Every one that you have listed is a topnotch restaurant with notable food and service, and the offerings are really good discounts. It is obvious that choices are restricted to certain items or set menus on the nights in question. I would add that at Violet before 7 on Tu thru Th, they offer several small plates at $7.
I guess my main advice to gavin is to choose a place where you can really celebrate and have a great meal without feeling you are skimping. While 25 is a memorable birthday, it will hopefully be an even better and bigger splurge at 30, etc. Shoot, if you did Urasawa now, what would you have to look forward to? A trip to NYC for Per Se or Masa or Paris?? Pick the most attractive place well within your budget, pull out some of the stops and have a great experience, and be sure to report back.
The Foundry has a great tasting menu with wine pairings that comes to about 110 pp which leaves not that much more room for tax and tip but the environment in fancy and casual and the food is great.