Best for a special occasion: Craft, Hatfield's, Sona, or Melisse?
...or another recommendation that I haven't thought of?
It's my honey's birthday and other plans have fallen through at the last minute so I'm on to plan B. We've been to Providence and A.O.C. in the past so I'm looking for something similar but new to us, with awesome ambience, good food, good wine, etc. Looking to spend around the same as those places. The BF doesn't eat red meat and stays away from pork so we have to go someplace that has poultry and seafood options (his dietary restrictions also usually keep us away from tasting menus).
Any opinions would be much appreciated!
Everything at Craft is served to share, and a party of two might be too small to really enjoy some of their best stuff like the mushrooms, and pork belly is out. Have you read all of the recent reviews and blogs about the Bazaar or XIV? Do you want sushi? How about mostly small plates and the deepfried catfish in ponzu at Chinois? A stylish evening outdoors on the patio at Gjelina? If it is a Saturday eve, how about an excursion to The Restaurant at the Getty?
You really can't go wrong at any of those places. Sometimes they can be hard to get into if you're planning last minute so keep that in mind. Also Melisse only does a set menu on Sundays which can be harder on dietary restrictions. But if you do go to Hatfield's do yourselves a favor and order the hamachi croque monsieur....amazing!
I would have rec'd Providence, but see you've already been there.
Based on the 4 listed in your OP, the order of my preference is Craft, Hatfield's, Melisse, then Sona. Was just not as impressed with sona as everyone else seems to be.
The BF's limitations does limit your choices quite a bit, and Providence would have been the best b/c of the great fish & seafood tasting menu they do.
How about some of the great sushi places that we have? Matsuhisa or Ursawa? Big $ but if he only eats fin & fowl, might be worth the splurge.
I was going to rec Bazaar and XIV, as nosh did.
If sushi is of interest, maybe go do an extended omakase at somewhere like Zo or Katsu.
Of your four, my vote is for Hatfield's. I'll also toss in Hungry Cat.
re: New Trial
Of those three, as all of you are sick of hearing me say, Ortolan wins hands down - gorgeous atmosphere, food, etc.
Vincenti is very good, but not really special occasion, in my book. Osteria Mozza also very good food, but service tends to be lackluster or rushed, depending on when you go.
I would go to Sona or Hatfield's. I don't love the food at Melisse (although I know I am in the minority here) and I don't think Craft is all that special.
If ambience is important, I really like Melisse. They also recently remodeled (haven't been there since though).
Hatfield's is nice, but I wouldn't exactly call the place romantic. It's smaller and has a more crowded feel to it. Bazaar is a really cool place too, but it's more hip and fun than romantic. I don't think any of the sushi places qualify as romantic either, even though the food may be good.