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

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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.

  1. 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

    23 Replies
    1. re: love2eat

      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.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        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.

        1. re: captainspacefood

          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.

          1. re: love2eat

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

            1. re: lotta_cox

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

              1. re: captainspacefood

                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.

          2. re: captainspacefood

            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.

            1. re: nosh

              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.

              1. re: captainspacefood

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

                1. re: captainspacefood

                  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.

                2. re: nosh

                  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?

                  1. re: captainspacefood

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

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      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.

                      1. re: captainspacefood

                        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.

                      2. re: lynnlato

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

                      3. re: captainspacefood

                        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.

                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                          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!

                        2. re: captainspacefood

                          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.

                          1. re: love2eat

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

                            1. re: captainspacefood

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

                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      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.

                      1. re: gideon

                        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.

                    3. re: love2eat

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

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

                        1. The original comment has been removed
                          1. 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.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: junipersong

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