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Feb 26, 2009 08:49 AM

Wealthy Manhattanite in Santa Monica - what would impress?

A friend has a trust fund baby cousin from Manhattan coming to visit. Money is no object to her (literally, I am told that she's oblivious to prices).

Where would you take her in Santa Monica, knowing that she has expensive, top notch world class cuisine at her fingertips back home?

Mr Taster

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  1. my first thought is capo. their wine list is amazing...albeit the mark up is huge.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wilafur

      Capo is exactly right. The food is quite good, the people watching is superb, and it radiates a beachy California ease that is exactly what rich Manhattanites are looking for. And it feels like a secret address. It makes guests feel as if they belong to a member of an exclusive club of taste and refinement, whereas Giorgio Baldi, which has much worse food, operates on a more exclusionary principle.

      Michael's is great in that way too - it makes comfortable people comfortable, the food is much, much better than you think it might be, the wine list is great, and the patio lined with Stellas and Grahams is magnificent.. If she frequents the NYC Michael's, she'll think that you understand her; if she doesn't, so much the better.

    2. Not in Santa Monica, but Providence? Chef Cimirusti did win an Iron Chef America battle.
      Or perhaps, the Bazaar...but I'm not sure if Jose Andres has an outlet in NYC.

      1 Reply
      1. re: attran99

        Providence is a great restaurant, but seriously Iron Chef is not a reason to go to someone's restaurant... nor Top Chef for that matter

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Take her to Mellise on Wilshire and 11th. Order the tasting menu with a the wine pairing. You won't be disappointed

          1. Not everyone who's wealthy or is recipient of a trust fund invests in stocks...
            If she has taste and has class...I'd take her to Capo but then again she may have the money but could care less about showing it off whereas a taco joint may suffice.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. As a Former Manhattanite (who has been accused of being oblivious to prices), a few suggestions but it depends on the KIND of foodie she is (or isn't). I am assuming -- as you say -- it must be Santa Monica, though I never understand why people limit themselves thusly in this city of all places.

              Every Manhattanite I have taken to Giorgio Baldi loves it because it is such an industry-celeby-LA--Italian...they have food as good or better, but they have nothing like it..

              Is she has been to Giorgios, and if she likes Japanese, The Hump is an LA experience unattainable in NYC.

              Finally Capo, (or, p[erhaps, Chinois, or Michael's though both are 'dated') would deserve some attention and thought.

              I wouldn't consider Valentino, Vicente, Melisse, Jiraffe, or Josie's -- all are good but much better versions are likely where she normally eats.

              If she cares more for what LA is best at, real regional Chinese, Mexican, Thai etc, I know you would take her to San Gabriel, Mariscos Chente, Thai Town etc.

              19 Replies
              1. re: Ciao Bob

       a born & raised NYer, living out here since 1991, I would avoid places like Melisse and Providence - NYC has much better versions of those types of restaurants (Daniel & Le Bernadin, for example).

                Everyone loves Chinois, even though it is dated, but the food is terrific.

                1. re: Ciao Bob

                  Indeed, NYers, especially NYers with money, love Giorgio Baldi.

                  1. re: Newkie

                    Giorgio Baldi might remind them of the cramped tables, high prices, and litany of specials orally recited by the heavily accented waiters was unique to Greenwich Village's Il Mulino.


                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                    My friend came to me because she's looking at this as an opportunity to eat at a restaurant that would ordinarily be way out of her price range. Trust fund baby (TFB) is footing the bill, and has set the guidelines of an expensive place in Santa Monica, so who are we to question? This experience is really to benefit my friend, a native Angeleno, moreso than her cousin, so food is absolutely the top priority and celeb-hangout would be way down at the bottom.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      If this is the case either Valentino or Capo.

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        Definitely Girogio Baldi. Expensive but very good food. Excellent ravioli, carpaccio (especially beef with white truffle sauce), langoustine, lobster, pasta, risotto. Celeb sighting is common but ultra low-key.

                        1. re: fdb

                          fdb -- How often do you go? Do you know the staff? What is your usual check? Giorgio Baldi is a haughty tourist trap and local favorite, very expensive for what you get. What do you order there?

                          1. re: nosh

                            How can it be a local favorite AND a tourist "trap?" These seem mutually exclusive to me. Locals ought to know what's good - in this case very good, IMHO -- and not fall into a tourist trap (which, of course, traps NON-LOCALS who don't know any better). I agree that GB is is food on the Italian Riviera.

                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                              i really like giorgio balid, their raviolis are dynamite, as well as their tiramisu and when they have it the chocoalte mousse. their pastas are good too.

                              but the main entrees are boring for the most part, pedestrian by the numbers italian stuff, except perhaps the pounded veal chop milanese on the bone showered with basil and a touch of lemon, reminds one of a good Wienershnitzel.

                              anyhow, it is expensive and the specials are exceptionally expensive. if you need to ask the prices please do.

                              anything with white truffles or even black ones will be an upcharge of anywhere from 50 to 125 per dish.


                            2. re: nosh

                              I'm a Santa Monica local and I've not seen any tourist at GB although I have taken many visitors from overseas and they have all been very very happy. I don't know the staff and I am not a celeb but I have never had bad service. I order the dishes as suggested in my post above, and have always been pleased. I can easily pay $100 to $150 pp depending on how much I drink. It IS expensive but it's also very good as I said.

                              1. re: nosh

                                Giorgio Baldi is not only a tourist trap but the quality of their food is really bad especially the seafood... It does have snob appeal...

                                Go to Valentino... better wine, better food, Cheaper, better service and competitive with a San Domenico or Le Cirque

                                1. re: lambrusche

                                  i think a lot of their food is good, the pastas especially and esp, the ravioli, if you mean seafood main entrees you might be right. but the simply sauced pastas, whether raviolis or even the tagliattelles are really good.


                                  1. re: kevin

                                    Giorgio Baldi was very mediocre. For the $150 we spent the highlight of the meal was Jamie Lee Curtis sitting next to us, big deal though right? Seriously pushy waiters and ugly surroundings.

                                    1. re: zjarrett

                                      Consider yourself wealthy for not having lost more at that mediocrity.

                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                So my suggestions of Hot Dog on a Stick at the pier and Father's Office probably wouldn't fly either ...

                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                  Wow, could not disagree with you more Ciao Bob. Melisse is world class. Get the carte blanch menu with wine pairings. I'd eat there over Jean George anytime. (okay, Jean George doesn't suck, but I'd still prefer Melisse.)

                                  And Capo? No comparison. Except maybe in price. Hump? I wouldn't know where to begin. I ate there a week ago, tried a lot of their offerings and am bewildered why anyone would think it was remotely special. C+, maybe...maybe B -. Chinois is definitely better.

                                  Valentino? On a part with Capo, but different. I would lean toward Valentino between the two. Still, neither are on the same level as Melisse. Melisse aspires to be a *** star (a la Michelin) restaurant, Capo or Valentino do not. Capo especially. I like Capo, used to go often, but for around the same money Melisse is much more special.

                                  Providence is not in Santa Monica, but is great (was just there last week) - terrific. Like Le Bernadin, but I'd prefer Providence. (again, Le Bernadin doesn't suck, and I look forward to going back, but I find Providence to be a little more creative.

                                  And Giorgio Baldi? Come on! It's like an average, upscale NY italian. Downright common, filled with Hollywood industry types who don't know food. La Botte is better, Picolino is better, Vicente is better, Valentino is better (and others). Giorgio is a joke. Cost too much, can't bring in wine, tables too close together, and did I say it costs too much?