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Oct 2, 2009 07:36 PM

Restaurant Week Recommendation

Hello, all. I've got one night to take advantage of this fall's dineLA Restaurant Week and would love to hear your recommendations for the best restaurant in terms of food quality. The full list of participating restaurants is here:

I've already been to Drago Centro, Grace, Josie, Mr. Chow, The Bazaar, and a few others, so I don't want to repeat. I would like to go somewhere that you normally couldn't eat at for a comparable price. For example, Gordon Ramsay would normally cost $46 for three courses, so $44 for RW isn't a big savings. Ji-Raffe has Monday $38 dinners, so why would I pay $44? Campanile has $45 Monday night dinners, so again, not saving much with the $44 RW deal.

Any standouts? Spago is probably the "biggest" foodie place on the list. I've had a couple mediocre experiences at Puck restaurants in other cities, but I know Spago is his signature restaurant.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

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  1. Water Grill was a big hit for me at the last Dine LA--both quality and value-wise!

    6 Replies
    1. re: fdb

      Looking at the DineLA vs. regular menus and the restaurants I'm interested in, I agree with fdb about WATER GRILL being a good value. I also like their menu--can't wait to try the halibut.

      The other restaurant I'm planning on trying is XIOMARA. The rockfish tamale appetizer sounds delicious.

      1. re: brandygirl

        as it so happens we just came back from a special olympics fundraiser on the sm pier where truelly many of the big name bests were there (jiraffe, drago, grace, providence, water grill, etc- and my apologies to the great ones i left out)

        and Fig (on the dineLA list) put in a very respectable showing although i'm not sure the special price is such a great deal

        I'd love to hear from more knowledgable than me, what some of the great deals would be- if any, particularly in the 1-$ class

        1. re: gore_mutt

          I had a reservation at Water Grill and cancelled because multiple people told me that their DineLA menu (previous time) was "just ok".

          I signed up for The Lobster. I wanted to do XIV, but their menu wasn't really appealing to me. . .

          1. re: SouthernFoodie08

            I will do Water Grill over The Lobster anytime!

            1. re: fdb

              The Lobster has a new chef. Has anyone been since the change? Although I agree that based on my meals at both prior to the chef change at the Lobster, I'd choose Water Grill handsdown.

        2. re: brandygirl

          I went during Restaurant week. At first I was put on guard by the fact that besides one couple I was the only customer.
          The space is very cozy with high ceilings to absorb the noise and date friendly lighting.
          I was off to a great start with an amuse-bouche of cold Tortilla Espanola with green olive tapenade.
          For s starter I had tamale with rock shrimp and lobster bisque. This particular item was my reason for going to Xiomara and it did not disappoint. The tamale was more like a creamy and light corn pudding and the combination of lobster bisque and rock shrimp with notes of mushrooms was transcendent.
          The main was a skirt stake with wild mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes with blue cheese. This dish was perfectly serviceable, although I found the mushroom sauce too liquid and therefore lacking the concentration and focus. While I appreciate that this is a Latin restaurant the sprinkling of raw purple onion slivers over the dish confounded me and as far as I am concerned diminished the flavor and the look of the dish.
          I had a tres leches cake with ice cream. I am not a big fan of tres leches cake, but I am glad that I let the curiosity get the better of me. This was a sumptuous desert with the cake thoroughly soaked through which gave it an almost custard like consistency. This was everything a desert should be.
          Let me not fail to mention the Mojito, which is made with freshly squeezed sugar cane.
          As a denizen of Miami I was tempted to forgo getting a Mojito in LA. Once again I am happy to report that going against my better instincts has paid off handsomely.

          6101 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

      2. A couple of friends and I had a lovely time at XIV by Michael Mina last night. Food was very good and very generously portioned and service was excellent. As a bonus, although we weren't counting on it, they also honored their Monday promotion of 50% off their bottles of wine even though we were doing the DineLA menu. All in all, a really good experience and we recommend trying it out.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sidwich

          Nice to hear they honored the promotion. Some restaurants give you a really hard time during Dine LA week; they don't offer the menu without asking, discourage you from ordering from it. I mean...if they feel that way, what's the point of doing it? I really appreciate the restaurants that view this as a chance to bring in new business....seems to me, in this economy, that's a wise course of action.

        2. I went to Spago last night with a few other hounds (lovely, lovely company) and would highly recommend it for Dine LA. They brought out the classic Spago spicy tuna cones as an amuse bouche which were very good. I started with the heirloom tomato soup with a ricotta flan, which I think was the best of the apps: velvety broth and the flan was delicious and topped with three perfect baby heirloom tomtoes. One of the other hounds commented that she doesn't normally like tomato soup but would eat it all the time if it always tasted like that. The other appetizers from the Dine LA menu were fried calamari (perfectly fried and served with a nicely dressed salad that made it much less heavy than it otherwise would have been) and a proscuitto and pear salad which was done well, but was not particularly memorable.

          Three of us were unable to resist the sweet corn agnolotti supplement ($14), while the fourth added a dish from the regular menu, a risotto that I believe had lobster and uni, although please correct me if I'm wrong. I only had a small bite of the risotto, and it was excellent, but I really had to save room for the agnolotti. Good god. This dish is really as good as everyone says it is. It's like essence of the very best sweet corn you've ever tasted encapsulated in the most perfect pasta. I think there might be butter and cream and marscapone in there somewhere too. Easily one of the ten best dishes I've eaten this year.

          For entrees, three of got the lamb chops over cauliflower puree and the fourth got the got cod with ragout of cranberry beans and pancetta. The lamb chops were perfectly cooked and seasoned, and despite being very full at this point, I managed to eat all three plus a bite of the cod, which was also delicious.

          For dessert, two of us got the apple cider upside down cake, one got the triple crunch chocolate torte, and the fourth got the dobos torte, a twelve layer chocolate cake. I'm not much of a dessert person, but all three were very pretty and tasty, but I especially liked the apple cake, which had a beautiful crust and an amazing texture that one hound commented tasted like had been made with almond meal. Similarly, the texture of the cake in the chocolate torte was outstanding.

          The portions throughout the meal were incredibly generous, which hasnt always been my Dine LA experience. Bottom line, this is a great value and an excellent way to either try Spago if you've never been or revisit an old favorite.

          1. The Bazaar was quite amazing last night. Their dineLA deal was just perfect. Choose 4 or 5 tapas from a huge swath of the regular menu. Lovely.

            1. We ended up at Rivera and had a wonderful experience. We were seated at the counter overlooking the kitchen, which wasn't our preference, but they claimed all the tables were for bigger parties. It ended up being kind of nice, watching the action (similar to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon). The service was terrific and the food was phenomenal. We tried the piquillos rellenos, choros al vapor, trucha, duck enfrijolada, estudio en flan, and torta de aceite de oliva. All were truly stellar. This is Latin cuisine elevated to its finest. Thanks for everyone's input and hope you're all enjoying your Restaurant Week experiences!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Foodie 4 Life

                yeah rivera didn't cheap out and offered the regular menu items at surprisingly the mid level price point. I just go there so much that I'd rather use dinela to try something new.