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One night in LA - need hound rec for great dinner - no douchebag restaurants

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captainspacefood Mar 7, 2009 11:19 AM

Going to be in LA for one night next week, and looking for some recommendations. I rarely have good/great meals in LA like I do in NYC, probably because we always end up with clients at terrible chachi bridge and tunnel places like Koi, Kitana, Asia De Cuba, etc. No thanks.

I've really enjoyed meals at AOC, Providence, Nozawa, and Lucques on recent trips, but looking for some new ideas.

Price isn't an issue, but shouldn't be Urasawa (I wish). Also going to be with one vegetarian who eats fish, so no steakhouses.

Any places with a killer raw bar like Bar Crudo in SF? How is Hatfields these days? I've heard good things.

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  1. love2eat Mar 7, 2009 11:25 AM

    Have you been to Hungry Cat? It is Suzanne Goin's (AOC, Lucques) husband's restaurant. Has a raw bar, delicious cocktails, etc. thehungrycat.com

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    1. re: love2eat
      goodhealthgourmet Mar 7, 2009 11:31 AM

      you beat me to it, i was going to suggest Hungry Cat for the raw bar.

      another possibility would be Bazaar - the new José Andrés venture at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.

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      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
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        captainspacefood Mar 7, 2009 11:41 AM

        I had no idea AOC and Lucques was the same owner, funny. Hungry Cat looks great as well, I could see that for a lunch or a dinner for sure. Just watched the LA Times video of Bazaar, looks like they've got a WD-50 molecular thing going on there, could definitely work. Thanks guys.

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        1. re: captainspacefood
          love2eat Mar 7, 2009 11:56 AM

          Bazaar very well could work however the douchebag quotient is extremely high there. It is an SBE Sam Nazarian venture. So, don't be surprised if your dinner is interrupted by a filming of The Hills.

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          1. re: love2eat
            lotta_cox Apr 4, 2009 12:07 PM

            I have never had anything happen that was remotely douchey, and have been there twice. Both times were elegant with excellent service.

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            1. re: lotta_cox
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              captainspacefood Sep 8, 2009 03:22 PM

              Hey guys I'm back in LA and I'm going to The Bazaar. This should be fun.

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              1. re: captainspacefood
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                captainspacefood Sep 10, 2009 03:57 PM

                Pretty good food actually! Interesting crowd to say the least. Reminded me of some spots I've been in in Dubai.

                I liked the traditional side of the menu more than the molecular side. Although I'm not sure if I quite believe that they are the only restaurant in America to serve Iberico.

                Foie gras lollipops were a fun preparation. Veal was almost like pork belly. Definition of unctuous. Lamb was spot on too.

                Definitely going to hit up Animal next time.

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          2. re: captainspacefood
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            nosh Mar 7, 2009 11:58 AM

            Where are you going to be? If near Beverly Hills/Century City I'll throw in votes for Spago (Puck) or Craft (Colicchio). Yes, either is an industry hang-out with stylish crowds, but the food at either is far more than an afterthought if you want it to be. Spago in particular offers a tasting menu, and you aren't going to find a dessert chef better than Sherry Yard. But L.A. is so spread out -- if you are in Santa Monica or Venice my choices would be different than downtown or Hollywood.

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            1. re: nosh
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              captainspacefood Mar 8, 2009 04:04 PM

              Craft I can get in NYC, Spago is a good option. We're staying in Santa Monica, but dinner should be a little more central - Hollywood, Downtown, Silverlake, Beverly Hills etc. Not opposed to driving around LA proper, but just don't want to go to Pasadena or anything. Industry hangs are okay....we're going with industry folks, but like you said, the food should be far more than an afterthought.

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              1. re: captainspacefood
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                swimfin Mar 8, 2009 09:38 PM

                not hollywood etc. etc., but decent, maybe more than decent, food, industry hang = Ivy at the Shore. Santa Monica. Just saying.
                Cheers -

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                1. re: captainspacefood
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                  foodiemahoodie Sep 8, 2009 11:46 PM

                  If you like Providence and want a fine dining experience, then by all means go to Melisse. Seriously good food.

                  Bazaar is fun too.

                  No douchebags. Ever.

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                2. re: nosh
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                  captainspacefood Mar 8, 2009 04:06 PM

                  Yeah - that's exactly what I don't want, although I'm being very tempted by Bazaar. Love2eat - I saw you commented on the XIV thread - would you say that it would fit my "amazing food in a no douchebag environment" requirement?

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                  1. re: captainspacefood
                    lynnlato Mar 8, 2009 04:40 PM

                    Just out of pure curiosity... what does "no douchebag environment" mean? I saw this thread and it made me chuckle. :)

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                    1. re: lynnlato
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                      captainspacefood Mar 8, 2009 08:37 PM

                      You know, like the shiny-shirt bridge and tunnel crowd. Meat packing district type restaurants are the norm in NYC for that kind of crowd...not sure what the LA equivalent would be.

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                      1. re: captainspacefood
                        monku Mar 8, 2009 10:52 PM

                        Funny, sounds like the "hoods" around high school on Long Island back in the 70's. "no douchebag restaurants"

                        "shiny-shirt bridge and tunnel crowd"......that's a new one to me and I love it.

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                      2. re: lynnlato
                        barryc Mar 12, 2009 10:10 PM

                        me too. my thought was: "should not smell like summer rain"

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                      3. re: captainspacefood
                        Ciao Bob Mar 9, 2009 11:33 AM

                        XIV has a farily (but not very) high douchebag/bridge and tunnel quotient, and they just changed their menu from the small-plate-everyone-has-the-same-thing format. DOn't know what it is like post-change. Go to Spago if you have never been...it is fairly easy to get a reservation these days. They have paired down the tasting menu to 5 courses and it rocks.
                        Providence is another very good choice.

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                        1. re: Ciao Bob
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                          foodiemahoodie Sep 8, 2009 11:47 PM

                          Spagos - especially on the weekends, is for Japanse tourists and well-heeled seniors. Food is very good. Just not a hip place. But no douchebags!

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                        2. re: captainspacefood
                          love2eat Mar 9, 2009 02:27 PM

                          I have always enjoyed the food at XIV but unfortunately its about the same douchebag quotient as The Bazaar as they share the same owner, SBE (Sam Nazarian, who also owns plenty of "bridge and tunnel" nightclubs). If I would have to pick between the two I would go to XIV. Although, as CiaoBob stated that they recently are going for more of a lounge vibe by adding a lounge menu for the patio. I have not been since the change but could only imagine it has made things worse.

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                          1. re: love2eat
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                            captainspacefood Mar 9, 2009 05:46 PM

                            I guess here's the question - does the food at Bazaar and XIV overcome the obnoxious crowd and vibe?

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                            1. re: captainspacefood
                              uhockey Mar 9, 2009 06:08 PM

                              Wrote a long review here of Bazaar - I say yes to the above question: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/602459

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                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet
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                      gideon Mar 14, 2009 08:39 PM

                      The douche bag quotient is middling at Hungry Cat. Still a lot of people bullshitting each out about "the business." But it's fairly easy to ignore. The food is good and the cocktails are fantastic.

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                      1. re: gideon
                        Das Ubergeek Mar 14, 2009 10:14 PM

                        If you don't want to hear anybody bloviating about the industry, Hollywood is not exactly the place to hang out, innit?

                        There are douchebags everywhere. There are the look-at-my-hot-executive-self overtanned douchebags in Newport Beach; the we're-on-vacation-and-determined-to-make-sure-everybody-knows-how-it's-different-from-back-home douchebags in Anaheim and, especially around the US Open, in Huntington Beach; the I-totally-have-an-in-at-Warners douchebags in Burbank, who are related to the oh-my-God-can-you-hurry-with-my-fruity-girl-drink-in-a-martini-glass-I-have-a-development-meeting-in-ten-minutes-hel-LO douchebags in Century City, and of course, the I'm-not-actually-in-a-restaurant-I'm-in-a-temple-of-gastronomy-how-dare-you-intrude-upon-my-worldview chef worshipping douchebags at any place that requires a reservation more than a week in advance.

                        My point is that while there are douchebag-heavy places, you're never going to be free of douchebags anywhere (and, incidentally, we don't call them "bridge-and-tunnel crowd" here, having neither bridges nor tunnels).

                        If you're looking for douchebag-free dining, stay home and order in from RotR... otherwise worry less about the douchebags and more about finding something delicious to eat. Or -- what a concept -- ditch the overpriced status restaurants and go eat food made by real people who have nothing to do with the industry... i.e., go to K-town or Thai Town or the Valley (GASP) or Little Saigon or Little Gaza or the SGV or Chinatown or Glendale or Westwood and eat something made by somebody who had a dream that didn't include a casting couch.

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                    3. re: love2eat
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                      epop Mar 17, 2009 11:11 AM

                      HUNGRY CAT is nothing special. Much better seafood at hundreds of other places around the country. I never understood the hype about it.

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                    4. love2eat Mar 7, 2009 11:59 AM

                      Ammo is another great option. Very low-key. Food is rustic seasonal, very fresh. Meats, seafood, many vegetarian options. Full bar. www.ammocafe.com

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                      1. ipsedixit Mar 7, 2009 12:58 PM

                        Water Grill

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                          junipersong Mar 8, 2009 06:19 PM

                          Spago and Water Grill have been mentioned, and I would second those.

                          How about Asanebo? It's in a strip mall in the valley, but it is EXCELLENT sushi and has the Michelin star to prove it. The lobster sashimi with black truffle was the single best thing I ate in 2008.

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                          1. re: junipersong
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                            ElissaInPlaya Mar 19, 2009 03:29 PM

                            Just went to Asanebo. In my opinion, it is over-hyped.

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                          2. uhockey Mar 8, 2009 06:43 PM

                            I was very impressed by Bazaar - and that was on a trip that also included many Michelin Starred places and started in SF/Napa and made its way down the coast to San Diego (Danko, One Market, Boulevard, Aqua, Bouchon, The French Laundry, La Botte, Osteria Mozza, and other non-starred places) I'd say Bazaar's biggest douchebag quotient was the servers - the customers were generally cool enough.

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                            1. groover808 Mar 8, 2009 10:27 PM

                              Here's a recent thread about Hatflield's: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/597246

                              It will definitely fit the ambiance bill, just good food as the focus here, no "scene" to put up with.

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                              1. re: groover808
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                                captainspacefood Mar 13, 2009 09:11 AM

                                Hey all - I ended up going to Gjelina in Santa Monica. Wait for a table was long, but dinner was pretty good. Mushroom toast and sunchokes were the most memorable. The pizza and the oysters were good, but fairly standard.

                                Thanks for all the recs. Looking forward to getting to them soon.

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                              2. lotta_cox Apr 4, 2009 12:10 PM

                                I have been to Rivera 2x recently. It is new, beautiful and the food is fantastic. Good review recently from Virbila in the LATimes. Went for the second time last night and it was just wonderful. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something new but of the caliber of an AOC and Lucques.

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                                  maiweezy Apr 22, 2009 08:05 PM

                                  I had Hatfield's recently and it was fantastic. Great bang for the buck. Not sure if it was like this before as well, but, if you come in pairs each pair gets a different tasting menu, so all in all you get to taste 14 different dishes if you share. Great service, and not a douchebag in sight!

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                                    waferthin Sep 8, 2009 03:34 PM

                                    There are some great suggestions here, but I would suggest that if you go to only place in LA, it should be Animal. Although it's (rightly) famous for it's meat, they also serve some of the best fish, salads and other sides in town.

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                                    1. re: waferthin
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                                      captainspacefood Dec 12, 2009 01:42 PM

                                      Hey - I just had another LA trip and hit Animal, thought it was pretty damn good. Although maybe the gnocchi was the best dish? Poutine was pretty crazy. Also went to The Tasting Kitchen in Venice. Great as well. Not a douchey scene at either place! The Warner Brothers Studios Commissary on the other hand....yikes.

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                                    2. The Chowhound Team Sep 9, 2009 12:17 PM

                                      Folks, let's ease off the criticism of other restaurant patrons and get back to discussing the food, service, and atmosphere. We're not against having a little fun, but the bagging on douchebags is getting out of hand. Thanks.

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