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New Yorker returns...needs more help

  • s

last winter, you kind folks steered me to some great eats while in town on business with my girlfriend. of all the places i ate, i swooned most at hatfields...in my opinion, just right up my alley and a total stellar meal.

im returning in 2 weeks (albeit with a new girlfriend). ive scoured these boards and other resources but im not sure where to take her for a special evening. i have reservations for providence but i have hesitations about the price and the environment. id like dinner in a more intimate environment (a la hatfields) and was under the impression that providence may be a bit sterile.

other ideas were sona and possibly grace...i wish i got a chance to try bastide but i think ive seen they've recently closed again.

any ideas? food-wise, im a saddle of lamb/rack of lamb type.

thx

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  1. I know not everyone on this board likes Grace, but I really liked the vibe, the service and the food there and found it very easy to converse. You might also check out Suzanne Goin's restaurants AOC and Lucques (Lucques might be more of what you're looking for). Also Comme Ca and Sona, I haven't been to Providence yet but I think I would have the same hesitation that you do - I know from many people that the food is extraordinary but I get weary of having so many courses of a tasting menu explained to me. You might also check a fairly new restaurant in Santa Monica called Anisette.

    1. I'll second the Lucques suggestion; sounds like what you're looking for.

      I'm under the impression that Sona is pretty sterile.

      1. If you don't mind the drive, I would suggest Saddle Peak Lodge.

        www.saddlepeaklodge.com

        1. i went to aoc and luques on my last trip. we have 'ino here in nyc which is a personal favorite so its hard to appreciate small italian meats and cheeses in the aoc environment but it was fine enough. lucques on the other hand was a bit of a disappointment actually. beautiful space but the food was ultra heavy and not what i imagined given the reputation.

          id like to try something new and not end up at hatfields though i absolutely loved it the first time. is josies any good in santa monica?

          also, any sort of hip-ish place i can take some friends out to dinner? something a bit more casual...i was thinking angelini osteria or hungry cat...was hoping to find something a bit more off the beaten path...nothing too expensive either.

          thx in advance everyone...you guys have some amazing food in yr town. im just happy to get away from nyc and enjoy it...

          3 Replies
          1. re: sam1

            You do realize that your feelings about Lucques is near blasphemy but I totally agree. I was very disapppointed with the food. It was pretty uninspired and unremarkable if you compare it to SF or NYC restaurants, mostly because there are so many restaurants in those cities that do it better for cheaper (Sunday Supper aside).

            I was similarly let down by Josie's. I went as a party of 5 and tried a good portion of the menu. Touted favorites like the short ribs, buffalo burger, etc were pretty unremarkable. In fact, I thought the short ribs were undertrimmed with too much excess fat (from someone that adores pork belly). The sepia with lentils was the only good dish that night.

            Comme Ca wouldn't last in NYC. The brandade was good but everything else (duck confit, lamb shank, salmon, pork chop, wines by the glass selection) was surprisingly bland.

            If you liked Hatfields, you should probably try Grace. It's nothing fancy, not really revalatory, but very, very tasty. Save room for the donuts at the end. I didn't think Providence was sterile. The ambience is a lot more inviting than Le Bernardin.

            Sona interests me enough to try on Saturday.

            1. re: sam1

              i agree with the rec for saddle peak lodge, though it's not cheap.

              maybe Wilshire if you were willing to hit west LA

              organic, Akasha in Culver City might be a good option for taking the friends out.

              there are some new places like Gjelina on Abbot Kinney, or Via Alloro on Canon in Beverly Hills.

              1. re: sam1

                I was also disappointed in Lucques. I absolutely love Josie's. The venison is delicious.

              2. I don't like Osteria Angelini (or is it Angelini Osteria?) We have no real osteria in LA. But I do like Hungry Cat.

                Yep, the food at Lucques is heavy. It doesn't have a reputation for lightness, though.

                Josie doesn't get a lot of mention on the board.

                Pizzeria Mozza inspires strong feelings. Don't know if a NYer would appreciate it, though.

                Hip-ish and "off the beaten path" are mutually exclusive in LA. However, off the beaten path, I would have to recommend Pizzicotto in Brentwood for good, not too expensive Italian. For hip, I might say Fraiche in Culver City. Maybe Animal.

                5 Replies
                1. re: jaykayen

                  As a former longtime Manhattanite I appreciate Mozza. It's a style of pizza you don't find in NYC (corrections welcome, though). I think it's one of LAs truly unique food institutions.

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    Otto in NY is pretty similar to Mozza. I, too, would skip Angelini, though I haven't dined there, only at its sister restaurant La Terza. I would check out Nook Bistro in WLA, which serves upscale comfort food and won a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin guide.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      I love Nook -- I've taken family and friends there and I think it is the best value on the westside, with better food and service than places charging almost double their prices. But I'm not sure it fits this query -- the OP was considering places like Providence, Sona and Grace. Perhaps a better choice, for a lunch or the casual dinner for friends, is across the street and a few blocks west on Santa Monica at Brockton at Monte Alban, for extraordinary moles and other Oaxacan specialties.

                      1. re: nosh

                        Points well taken, nosh -- Nook is definitely more casual and less refined than the places mentioned by the OP.

                  2. re: jaykayen

                    I'd definitely second the rec for Animal for the 'hip' meal...