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DineLA- running reviews of places so far

I have looked on here and don't see the usual on-going thread where people talk about the DineLA events they have been to so far. If they are a definite go or save your money.

I went to BLT Steak last night (my first event this time around) and found it to be really tasty and a great deal for what you get. What really boosted my opinion were the "extras". Along with our orders, we got chicken liver pate, popovers (with the recipe) and cookies as an extra dessert. My dinner companion went off menu so I was not able to try as many things, but still enjoyed it.

I went against my gut (was going to get mushroom risotto) and got a potato soup with watercress, a poached egg, and bacon. Very flavorful and different!! I also saw the endive salad at another table and it looked good (I am not generally a fan of endive, so I skipped)

For entree, I got the duet of beef (steak and short rib). The steak was good, not great but I fault myself for probably getting it cooked too hard (at medium). They did give me a choice of sauce to go with it (I tried bernaise and horseradish). The short rib was DELICIOUS, but not as hot as I wanted it to be (hot as in temperature). My friend got a filet which was very tasty as well and a little warmer. No sides, you have to order extra, but I did taste my friend's potato gratin, which was very good.

By the time I got to dessert, I was too full! I was only able to eat one bite of my warm chocolate brownie with butter pecan ice cream. It was VERY good, but I am not so much of a dessert person that I will overstuff myself for it. Oh, and the server brought out two complimentary chocolate cookies.

Service was great! Very attentive. I thought overall it was a very good dining experience and totally worth the $$$.

Anyone else want to share? :-)

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  1. Thanks for starting an independent thread for this. I always enjoy reading others' experiences with Dine LA. Here's my review of Spago last night which I also posted on the other Dine LA thread:

    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.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mollyomormon

      thanks molly...this is very timely as i have reservations for tomorrow...spago's dinela menu definitely sounded more interesting than most of the other chicken menus...now I might have to add that corn dish...i had a bite of it from the tasting menu...and your description is right on...anything from the dinela menu that was subpar?

      1. re: peppermonkey

        we didn't try the poussin (we chickened out...har de har har), but saw it at another table and it looked amazing. we were kicking ourselves that one of us hadn't. but no, really everything was either very good to excellentl. the only thing i would steer you away from was the burrata/prosciutto/pear salad which, while done well, just wasn't memorable at all.

        1. re: mollyomormon

          Well, you know what they say: one person's meat is another person's poussin.

      2. re: mollyomormon

        Hi mollyomormon,

        Thanks for the perfect summary of my Spago experience as well. :) Loved the Sweet Corn Agnolotti - it's just as amazing as my experience last year (when it was on their full Tasting Menu). The Lamb was so tender and cooked perfectly.

        Great ambiance, great company, great evening. It really is impressive that Spago can deliver after all these years.

      3. Going to Marrakesh tomorrow evening. Would not have been my first choice, but (1) it works geographically (meeting Ms. Dr. Oz there, and we are coming from North Hollywood and downtown respectively and afterward home to Topanga -- so it works out that Studio City represents the least cumulative driving), and (2) b'stilla. I don't expect wonderfulness, but will report back one way or the other.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ozhead

          Went to Marrakesh for DineLA simply because I've been fiending for Morroccan food for maybe a year. The place was almost empty except for three other couples also doing the DineLA thing (note: it was also 6 pm on a Monday). The soup was not bad, but nothing super. The salad which was cucumbers with mint, pickled carrots, and a baba ghanoush type dish was pretty good. The chicken with olives and preserved lemons was pretty decent, and the lamb was just meh. BUT the bistilla! The bistilla was as I remembered it in Morrocco. Powdered sugar on top, flaky crust, and creamy/chicken goodness. Sweet and savory. Yum! And they give you a ton. We were a party of two and we pretty much have enough for two more meals. I saw a lone diner next to us who basically got served the same amount of food. So basically, I recommend it for the atmosphere (minus the Rubinesque belly dancer) and the bistilla. Might be interesting to come back and just order bistilla and some more interesting dishes.

          Anyways, off to Grace tomorrow.

          1. re: lakeshow318

            Lake, your experience pretty much mirrors mine, from last week (see below).

        2. this wont be an in depth review, but i did go to Grace. their menu options for DineLA is huge!. plenty of choices to pick from. check thier website for actual menu options. i believe the DineLA website is not complete.
          in short due to the huge options we went with the tasting menu for an extra $20. this got us 2 apps, 2 entrees and dessert.
          we went with some salads, sea urchin risotto and lobster thai soup.
          for entrees we went with halibut, scallops, rabbit and wild boar.
          needless to say we were full and very very happy. service was great. food was great and we enjoyed it a lot.

          3 Replies
          1. re: samtron608

            Got reservations at Grace later this month, would you say the portions are a good size if we go with the 3 course Dine LA menu? Not sure if you do the 5 if they were the same size or slightly downsized in comparison...

            1. re: groover808

              we did the 5 course and the portions according to our waiter were slightly smaller than the regular dine LA menu. i ordered the scallops and we got 2 big pcs. the table next to us did the 3 course menu and ordered scallops as well and i believe they got 4 or 5 big pcs. so, i believe the dine LA 3 course option is pretty good size portion (appears to be the normal dinner portions).

              1. re: samtron608

                That is very interesting. I did the 5 course with a party of 5 on Saturday night and thought the portions for the 3 course were significantly larger than the portions for the 5 course. Specifically, we only got 1 scallop with our 5 course option while adjacent tables got 3 scallops with their 3 course.

                Our lamb chops were 2 thin chops while the 3 course was a huge double chop.

                I would choose the 3 course over the 5 course since the portions were much more generous.

                Having said all that, I would highly recommend the lobster cavatelli with fava beans, the lamb chops, and the grilled wild boar.

          2. Perfect timing, just went yesterday to RH at Andaz. here's my review. photos here http://stuffycheaks.blogspot.com/2009...

            RH Restaurant is at the newly remodeled Andaz West Hollywood, or better known as "Riot House", where rock stars used to hang out and wreaked havoc in the 70's. The restaurant/bar at one time used to be Chi, partly owned by Justin Timberlake. It looks different now. Gone are the waterfalls, tropical trees and fire pit. Instead, RH is trendy, with modern, metallic decor. It's a bit of an older crowd on a Tuesday night, and it's also relatively empty. The decor is unique. You can look into the kitchen's pantry through its glass doors to survey their fresh produce, as well as see bottles of wine lining the wall in the Wine Gallery. I also love the open kitchen concept and their marble communal tables.

            - Crudite with low fat yogurt, chive, lemon and salt. The crudite was a nice variety of purple cauliflower, carrots, radishes and cherry tomatoes. I liked that they served this healthy plate of veggies to start.
            - Bread and butter came shortly. Wow, the bread was delicious. It was fresh sourdough, warm and smelt so good.

            For appetizer, choice of:
            Chicken veloute soup with egg white
            Huntington pork and petaluma duck terrine
            Gratinated p.e.i mussels in sauvignon blanc cream sauce with parsley and garlic.

            - Although the terrine sounded good, I decided to upgrade my appetizer for the perigourdine poached egg for an extra $4.
            It was poached eggs with mushrooms, foie gras and summer truffles, served in a cast iron ramekin. Love the receptacle; it's so rustic. And this was worth the extra $4. The foie was layered on top of the egg, and the truffles covered the foie. It was definitely a very rich dish. The mushrooms were earthy, and the creamy foie gras melted with the poached egg. Even the bread that was served alongside was tasty and went really well with the eggs and foie. It tasted a bit like brioche but was denser. The only issue was that there was too much butter slathered on the bread; I had to scoop the butter off the bread.

            - Chicken veloute soup. They served the rest of the soup in a canteen to keep it warm. The soup was a little thin, flat and not that flavourful. I think a little cream would have richen it up a little.

            For entree, choice of:
            Crayfish risotto with peas, romaine leaves, tomato and crayfish sauce
            Braised petaluma chicken breast with white corn, red pepper, baby spinach and pineau wine sauce
            Slow braised beef cheek with button mushrooms and rainbow carrots

            - The beef cheek was so tender and delicious. You could see the lovely marbling and the gelatinous fat in the beef cheek. It literally melted in my mouth. The sauce wasn't thick like gravy so it did not overwhelm the lovely cut of meat. The sauce was viscous and not too salty, which really showcased the beef. I also loved the root vegetables and the roasted garlic, but the button mushrooms looked like the ones from a can.

            - The chicken, surprisingly was amazing. The colors on the plate were vibrant. I've had tender chicken breast before, but this tasted so much better. And the skin was perfectly crisp. The white corn was fresh, soft but not mushy, sweet and went well with the chicken. This is the type of dish you could see yourself eating at a farm town in Provence.

            For dessert:
            Rum baba with fruit minestrone and vanilla whipped cream
            Walnut cake with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream
            Green apple with berries and yogurt.

            - Walnut cake. It was a bit dry. I didn't have the urge to devour this, unlike most other dessert.

            - Rum baba. The diced fruit was refreshing in the sweet broth; I believe the fruit was mango, pineapple, and papaya and cantaloupe. I even liked the whipped cream on top. However the rum cake was too overwhelming in alcohol content. It just tasted like a shot; I couldn't even finish a bite because it was too strong.

            dineLA Restaurant Week is such a great deal. The bill came up to $49 per person, excluding tip, but including a glass of wine which was about $10 each. It's a great way to check out new restaurants without pinching the pocket. I liked that RH didn't include crappy selections on their dineLA menu, which some other restaurants have done. The food was delicious, with the entrees and poached egg being my favorites. Also, you could tell that the ingredients were of good quality because everything seemed fresh and tasted good. The desserts were not memorable though. OK, I take that back, I'll definitely remember that I didn't like the rum.

            The service was great. Our waitress came by to check on us on several occasions. And when we were leaving, Chef Sebastien ran out of his kitchen over to us, and asked how our meal was. He even opened the door for us. How adorable. I will definitely be back, especially for the duck confit and the sweetbreads in puff pastry.

            Hits: poached egg, chicken, beef cheeks, bread, great deal!
            Misses: desserts

            1. Not sure exactly how well it stacks up financially against their regular menu, but I have always walked by Chinois on Main and wondered about it, have also read the good reviews, and it was Dine LA that made me finally try it.

              I had a seat at the counter, where the kitchen staff put on a bit of a show in terms of flamboyant cooking. Tried the warm curried oysters to start, the loup de mer wrapped in won ton skin as an entree, which I was told is one of their most popular dishes, and a desert of a crème brulee trio, which was outstanding.

              If I had not been on the Dine LA menu I would never have ordered a desert, and I'm so glad I did; I'm still thinking about those intense chocolate and the almond flavors, as well as the cookies that came with it and I went on Monday night!

              Interesting that a restaurant of this level did not provide a wine by the glass list; instead the server offered three white wines by varietal, not mentioning producer. I will have to go back again specifically to try the crispy spinach side, which sounds intriguing. As it was, the entree was full size and very filling. All in all, a positive experience.

              1. Two so far, three more planned for next week. Both were lunches downtown because that's where I work.

                I really liked Rivera, some photos and a little commentary here http://www.photoblog.com/Muhlyssa/200...
                Service was good, food was excellent and the space was beautiful

                Chaya Downtown was good, I don't think they pulled out all of the stops and gave a good representation of what they can be. Some photos here
                http://www.photoblog.com/Muhlyssa/200...

                I feel like some restaurants who participate in DineLA don't really give a good samplings of what they are all about because of the lower price point, they tend to serve cheaper food (how many places are offering short ribs, I've counted several).

                I see this as an opportunity to introduce diners to their menus and get them to come back. So far I'd go back to Rivera but not Chaya. Next week, Rosa Mexicana, Drago and one dinner.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Muhlyssa

                  Egads, Rosa Mexicano? It's El Torito in a trendy setting.I went for an event and the food was shockingly bad. I thought J. Gold's review, a rare negative review from him, was too kind. http://www.laweekly.com/2009-10-08/ea... I think he covers the "tableside guac", the restaurants marquee item.

                  The dish I had, a surf and turf steak and shrimp doused with way too much chipotle, and I tasted can, aluminum can. The michelada I had was undrinkable, over-seasoned.

                  The place is nice, you may enjoy the setting, but buyer beware.If you do go, maybe steer clear of sauces, perhaps grilled meats?

                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                    Thank YOU!! I recieved the cook book last year, which is lovely and so I have been tempted to go (since I LOVE the Grammy Museum) but I kept reading all these negative reviews so I never pulled the trigger (I still have a strong aversion to New York Mexican after all the trips years back)... now I know for sure, it's a miss...

                    --Dommy!

                    1. re: Dommy

                      Come to think of it, it was kind of like Pace picante sauce.NEW YORK CITY.....?

                2. I reaaly enjoyed my dinner at Grace last night. I had the roasted pumpkin and sea urchin risotto, The rabbit wrapped in bacon with black rice and a type of grilled kale, and the home made chocolate chip cookies with cinnamon spiked milk. I had the wine pairing, which was well selected.

                  The service was excellent, I will definitely be going back and would recommend DineLA here.

                  A couple nearby was killing it though. They didn't read the supplements on the menu, the waiter patiently, and repeatedly apologized for errors that weren't his, and smoothed it out. Read the menu, dude. I guess that's why some restaurants don't like DineLA. Don't kill it for the rest of us!

                  1. in brief:

                    been to 3 lunches so far: boa santa monica, cafe rodeo at the luxe hotel and spago...spago wins hands down (no surprise there).

                    boa SM---have been wanting to try it since it had opened but never got around to it. huge disappointment...not worth the soup/salad, sandwich and cookie for $28 "deal." the burger i ordered (medium rare) came out medium and really tough...not a good sign for a place specialzing in that meat. the sandwich came apart (tomato kept slipping out and the bun got too soggy and i just ate it with a fork and knife. mcd's and in-n-out are way better.

                    cafe rodeo--tuna tartar app was delicious. the salad part of the beef salad entree was good but i didn't like the flavor of the beef (a little too game-y). the cookies were fine; nothing to write home about. also, the lunch is $22 (opentable had it listed at $16)...still a lot better than boa.

                    spago---loved the pear, prosciutto and burrata app; didn't like the cod (way too salty and the mascarpone foam didn't have much flavor and body). dobos torte was good. overall, totally worth the $28 (tho, at the end of the day, it was a $60 lunch, counting a glass of prosecco, tax/tip and the valet).

                    1. We went to Susan Feniger's Street last night and had a blast. Lively crowd. Great drinks and we all ended up ordering off the DineLA menu. Oh, also we added an order of the Kaya Toast because everybody had heard about it but nobody knew what it tasted like. Actually it was a little sweet for me, but others liked it. Anyway, first came some kind if Indian inspired fritter which was very tasty. I had the bread salad next, followed by Lamb Kofta. Others had the fried Chicken and the Saag Paneer. Everybody was happy with their food. Oh, dessert was Peanut butter cookies and some kind of custard, which I think had preserved lemon on top. Anyway, all was good. What we liked about the DineLA menu is it actually narrowed down the menu and made choosing easier. Anyway, definitely recommend Street

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JPomer

                        Had the Dine LA lunch menu at Street this week. I'd been there before and really liked it. The crowd is very eclectic and it's just got a really nice vibe...plus Susan is usually there and stopping by tables.
                        Had a lovely Cobb salad to start....very nice blue cheese. The mini kobe beef chili dogs for a main course. These were so good! Other people ordered them after seeing mine!
                        And I ended with the peanut butter & jelly cookies. Had a nice French ale with the meal.
                        The mini dogs are on the regular lunch menu as well.

                        1. re: perk

                          ok, now i have to go back to Street at lunch because those mini kobe beef chili dogs sound amazing

                      2. A couple of friends of mine and I had a lovely time at XIV by Michael Mina. With three of us, we had a chance to sample each of the appetizers and entrees, and everyone was very happy with the food. The servings were all more than ample, and looked to be regular portion sizes. Service was extremely gracious (dinela menus were given out right away). As a lovely bonus, although we were expecting it, when we asked, the restaurant agreed to honor their Monday night 50% off wine promotion even though we were all ordering off the DineLA menu. All in all a great experience, and we highly recommend.

                        1. Went to Gordon Ramsey at the London. Had heard mixed reviews so we weren't sure how the evening would go. Overall, food was good, service was outstanding, decor was beautiful.

                          For appetizers we had the scallops and hamachi carpaccio. Scallops were perfectly cooked and tasty. It came with a colliflower puree which was OK. Carpaccio was also very fresh and mixed well with the sauce and greens they served.

                          Entree had the grilled miso cod and pork chop. The grilled miso cod was very well cooked and tasty but standard. It came with a carrot puree that was nice and had an anice flavor that I enjoyed. The pork chop was fine, but lacked flavor. It tasted much better when you mixed it with the pom purree and gravy.

                          We had the cheese plate supplement which was very good.
                          Dessert was chocolate fondant, which was basically a molten lava cake and was very good. I got the apple tart which I loved. Very hot, crispy, sweet and sour. It came with a fennel ice cream that was a perfect flavor combination.

                          We had a nice time, service was great. In terms of food, I thought there were too many purees but the flavor of everything was good and for the price we felt it was worth it.

                          1. Thanks for this post! I'm trying Fig tomorrow and will report back. My friends and I are looking to do one more on Monday. Keep the reviews and suggestions coming. Anyone found a "best value" DineLA special yet? I don't usually order dessert, so I'm having a hard time justifying the $44 price tag on a lot of the places that I want to try (since I could probably go to the restaurant and order what I want for around $44 instead of off a fixed menu that includes a dessert I don't need).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Hapgood

                              For a few of these, it only works out to a free dessert as opposed to ordering off the menu. Seems like Water Grill is the good value with entrees already near the $36-$40+ mark, never been though.

                              1. re: Hapgood

                                Hapgood - How was Fig? I'm thinking of going on Thursday with a vegeterian friend. Let me know your experience...
                                Thanks!

                              2. I went to Royal/T Cafe in Culver City on my lunch today. A very nice change from the usual quick sandwich from one of the diners. The decor is high kitsch, but amusing, college students would love it, or it struck me as a hip and enjoyable place for a date (either lunch or dinner) where the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.

                                I ordered the kurobuta pork Belly, Kobe Hamburger and tiramisu. and I supplemented that with a pot of megame sencha tea.

                                The tea was the highlight of the meal, absolutely outstanding, perfectly prepared and absolutely delicious, the only downside is that I felt Japanese tea shouldn't have been served in clear boudon teacups, (guess I'm used to handleless ceramic cups) but that could hardly be called a quibble.

                                The pork belly was presented as about a 3cmx3cm cube, perhaps a little larger. It cut easily with a butter knife, and yes I ate it all, fatty part as well, delicious, not mind blowing, but totally satisfying, considering I had skipped breakfast. the spice, dressing it's served with is maybe a little sweet, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is served with a small portion of rice noodles that have been dressed with the barest hint of sesame oil, a few black sesame seeds and a few sprigs of parsley, these were excellent, the seasoning/dressing of the noodles was spot on, subtle and very effective.

                                The hamburger is massive. I didn't think when I was ordering and didn't indicate a preference on how it should be cooked (and the waitress did not ask), so it came back to me cooked the way I all my hamburgers growing up were cooked--medium done. Despite this, the burger still had very good flavor and was surprisingly juicy and delicious. They offered ketchup and mayo to go with it, but not mustard, it did need some mustard. It's served on an excellent bun, open face, with the tomato, lettuce and cucumber attached with a toothpick to the top of the bun. It also has some very decent swiss cheese melted onto the burger. Surprisingly the burger was served with a side salad of simple mixed greens. This was lightly but perfectly dressed with a rice vinegar base house salad dressing (it reminded me of how a japanese ex of mine used to prepare salads, so it touched a nostalgic bone). The burger was really big enough for two people, but never the less I finished it very quickly.

                                The tiramisu was something of a disappointment it was served in a small pudding dish, and frankly it looked like pudding, but when you dug underneath the thick sheaf of whipped mascarpone you discovered the lady fingers were literally bursting with rum and espresso when you cut through them. overall it was good, a bit too creamy and a bit too rich after all the other food I ate. I should have gone with my first choice, the green tea flan, but I opted out after deciding to order a green tea to drink. In all, 26 for meal, tea and tip, and it was definitely a hell of a lot better than three 8 dollar lunches at one of my usual lunch spots. It wasn't a mind blowing meal, but one I really enjoyed, and I'll definitely return, probably with a first date. I would only ding them for not asking about how the burger should be cooked, that's pretty basic.

                                1. My breakdown of The Foundry:

                                  Service: At first not so good, seated at 9:30 for an *8:30* reservation. Mgr and co-owner apologized profusely and gave us a round of drinks and some food. Eric Greenspan came a few times thanking us for waiting and making chit chat.

                                  Food: The dine LA menu here shines in the entree department, perfectly cooked and HUGE scallops, duck breast, and big hefty medallions of beef tenderloin. The apps of tuna tartare and potato soup were good, soup was poured table side over a leek and bread pudding and fried egg. Mid course onion risotto was underdone and slightly underseasoned although pork belly was pretty tender and had a nice tasy asiany seared crust. For dessert, really enjoyed the carrot cake, more like slices of a carrot cake muffin with a dollop of cream cheese and some tuiles, great with that not overly sweet carrot ice cream. The donuts and red velvet were ok, I was all over the carrot cake

                                  Freebies included Eric's signature grilled cheese which was nice with the sweet raisin bread, salty cheese, and puree/chutney in it. The mussels with chorizo were to die for, had this wonderful broth for dipping with some bread. Don't usually like mussels, loooved this, must order. The crab and spinach dip was standard, actually didn't get much of the crab in it.

                                  Overall decent food for the price, Foundry is 4 courses for the $44. Be prepared for a wait and your dinner to take some time. Maybe come off peak and they do have some live music. Had we not received free drinks and food for the wait, would've been much different experience, but we were well taken care of given the initial problems.

                                  -----
                                  The Foundry On Melrose
                                  7465 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: groover808

                                    Also did Foundry last night with a combo of DineLA and regular menu eaters. Service was slow at best but management couldn't have been nicer (started dinner at 8:15 and didn't get out till 11:45). They mentioned that they're trying work the kinks out with OpenTable and have had some staffing issues. Food was fine, nothing really stand out. Cocktails and wine list were not great.

                                  2. Water Grill 10/04
                                    Appertizer: tuna sashimi, the fish was supper fresh, i love it! The clam chowder was good, flavorful, not heavy and starchy but i had better elsewhere.
                                    Entree: The halibut was excellent, beautifully cooked, still moist and tender but whole grapes added to the sauce did not enhance the dish. My companions had swordfish and snapper (not rockfish as stated in the dineLA menu), both were very good but the snapper accoutrements were slightly salty for my taste.
                                    Dessert: Carrot cake and cheese cake were good, not excellent.
                                    All the dishes were tastefully decorated. I thinks Water Grill lives up to its reputation as far as cooking fish is concerned :-)

                                    1. Went to Ketchup this week. We wanted something quirky, fun and close to home. Big mistake. Food was dry, lacked individual flavors and just downright unimpressive. Service and presentation was nice. But ultimately, I am there to eat, so the food needs to be good.

                                      I've never eaten there before (and do not watch "The HIlls" so I did not know it had been on the show) and I won't eat there again. Not impressed at all. Anyone can mix some ketchup with wasabi or maple syrup. It's not something to base a restaurant off of. I wanted to ask for mayo for my fries, but I figured it was taboo. Oh well. Live and learn.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: designjb

                                        They're still open? I was sure they went out of business long ago. My one visit there was near the top of my worst meals ever. Food, but especially service.

                                      2. Spago 10/08
                                        I always love different kinds of bread here (olive, walnut, flat, sourdough, French country), you can get full by munching these :-). The French country bread was my favorite, crusty on the outside, airy soft inside, goes perfectly with the excellect butter sprinkled with sea salt.
                                        Appetizer: Lobster and spinach raviolini replaced the Jamon Serrano and it was sooooo good! The small pasta pouch filled with lobster paste was perpectly cooked and the cream sauce was light and had a wonderful aroma. The light and crispy calamari with cucumber salad was great, the dressing tasted like there was fish sauce in it.
                                        Entree: Pan-Roasted halibut (instead of cod) was kinda on the dry side, not as good as the one from WaterGrill, imho. However the tasteful but not overpower pancetta and wild mushrooms cream sause made up for the dish. Kurabuto Pork Chop with pear-ginger compote, stir fried green beans and confit pork, Chinese 10 spice and port-licorice reduction was really good. The thick cut was perfectly cooked, tender, rosy, and juicy. The salty, oriental spiced sauce, and the sweet pear-ginger (the ginger flavor was not strong) accompanied the meat nicely. I wished we tried the poussin too since it looked so good on the next table.
                                        Dessert: The dobos, 12-layer chocolate cake was delightfully lighter than i expected. Here's the recipe http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/recipes/v...
                                        I also enjoyed the chocolate cake for it's strong dark chocolate flavor, the light ivory cream and, chocolate ice cream.
                                        So far so good ... Craft is next on Sunday ... reading the review on Grace i think i should see if i could get a reservation. Thanks everybody for the reviews :-
                                        )Will post the pictures later ...

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: hlv2eat

                                          I also dined at Spago last night and we tried everything that was on the dine la menu along with 2 additional order of corn agnolotti (probably could've just had one but I wasn't disappointed that we got 2, definitely the best dish of the night). So corny that your immediate impulse will tell you that you are eating corn but then you realize that it can't be because of the velvety texture. I greatly enjoyed this confusion. For apps, we didn't see the lobster raviolini or jamon, we had paperadelli with rabbit and heirloom tomato soup along with the calamari. The apps for me were the strongest parts of the meal with the calamari being my fav. Flavors and textures were full, delicate and balanced. Agree about the halibut being dry especially for california standards, which distracted from the beautiful foamy sauce and yummy shrooms. It could've been a great dish. The poussin was good. Nice crispy skin with juicy meat. Another note. I absolutely LOVE how they do vegetables at spago. They really seem to know to coax out as much flavor from the veggies as possible. The sauces and oils and seasoning really makes the veggies shine in every dish. Desserts were kinda just ok for me. To heavy and rich with so much food before hand. I did like the apple cake. After being so stuffed I wanted something lighter, with more fruit. We also did the wine pairing which was ok. The syrah with the entrees was the best. Service was very slow. I mean...there was a quite a bit of time between everything. Getting the menu, ordering the food, between each course. Getting the wines late. And I was a little disappointed we didn't get the tuna cones that molly got and that I know are very good. So it wasn't the perpetual bliss of the tasting menu, but overall the food was great, the patio was great , and we had a good time.

                                        2. 10/8/09: Ms. Dr. Oz and I met for dinner at Marrakesh in Studio City -- chosen primarily because it's near where she works, and thus with me coming from downtown presented the least total amount of driving for the two of us. Having eaten there before (though not for a while), we knew that we would get a serviceable meal, and did not expect "gourmet" perfection.

                                          The restaurant was virtually empty, and service was warm and attentive -- both from our waiter and from the manager (owner?), Abdul. We each started with a Kir Royale, which for some reason both of us think is an appropriate aperitif at a Moroccan restaurant (maybe because the word "kir" sounds vaguely Arabic). Good drinks, but pretty expensive at $9, I think.

                                          The DineLA menu on the website lists appetizer, entree and dessert, and notes that it also includes a salad selection. In fact we got five courses:

                                          (1) an amuse (or maybe an extra app) of 6 "cigars" -- 3 spicy beef, 3 vegetable, fried, something like taquitos -- which were quite good.

                                          (2) a plate of 4 salads: eggplant, tomato/cucumber, carrot, and potato, with bread. Also quite good. I particularly liked the eggplant and the carrot, scooping them up on pieces of bread.

                                          (3) B'stilla, a nice large one for 2 of us -- delicious. Maybe a LITTLE too much powdered sugar, but that didn't distract from it. What's not to like about b'stilla? I have always thought someone could make a lot of money bringing b'stilla to people's door (B'Stilla Man, He Delivers).

                                          (4) Two entrees: lamb and potatoes, and lemon chicken with olives. As luck would have it, I like lamb and Ms. Dr. Oz does not, so we just each took the respective plates rather than share-and-share-alike (though I liberally tasted the chicken, and she gingerly tasted the lamb). As expected, the lamb was a little dry, but had a big taste. The chicken was, you know, chicken, nicely cooked (not dry), and the sauce was not too sour to drown out the taste of the chicken. Very large portions of both; the remaining chicken, well more than half of the amount served, is Ms. Dr. Oz's lunch today.

                                          (5) Baklava and mint tea. Both very sweet, which goes with the territory (at least in my experience of Moroccan restaurants). The pieces of baklava were large and tasty, but had a strange taste I don't usually associate with baklava -- which, upon reflection, seemed to be peanut.

                                          A belly dancer appeared about halfway through dinner, danced mercifully briefly (at times with a sword balanced on her head), and left.

                                          All it all, I thought it was a very good bargain for $26. Would I go back? Probably yes, with a large party for a festive occasion, which i think this kind of restaurant is made for. I wouldn't, however, make it a place to go on any kind of regular basis, and I think if I said to myself, "Wow, I'd really like Moroccan food tonight," I would drive over to Westwood and go to Koutoubia, where the food is better (and the price concomitantly higher, I believe).

                                          1. This was a great idea, I wish I'd found it when booking my reservations. Here's my contribution.

                                            We did Craft on the 4th, and it's definitely recommended. This is my first DineLA experience, but I've been to restaurant week in San Diego many times and this was many times better than the offerings I've seen there. The service was phenomenal (you could tell they were using the event to draw more business), beyond expected and really made the experience great. They even treated us with coupons for $10 off our next visit for coming during the dineLA event!

                                            What stood out the most to me was that the DineLA menu was setup as a wonderful sampling of the many offerings of the restaurant. The menu listed online doesn't really emphasize that for the appetizer AND dessert courses ALL of the items listed are served to the entire table, family style. This not only made selection simple (and probably eased the load of the kitchen), but allowed us to sample everything. This style might not be for everyone (if you wanted to get multiple orders of the same thing for example) but suited our purposes perfectly.

                                            The dishes were all prepared and presented well. The salad and rillette were great starters, simple and fresh as I expected everything from the restaurant to be. I had the sirloin entree, it was roasted medium, a little less flavor than I would have liked but definitely not terrible. My guest ordered the scallops (my first choice) which were prepared amazingly well, definitely within the top few I've had. The only gripe with the entrees was the small size (2 medallions of sirloin, 2 scallops, decently sized) even by fine dining standards. All of the desserts were enjoyable, the standout was the chocolate tart, cinnamon ice cream and raspberry sorbet. The suggested wine pairings were also well chosen (waitress insisted we sample them before selecting which was a nice touch), I had the zin, she had the sauvignon blanc.

                                            Overall a great experience, the food was excellent (albeit as I said a little scarce) and the service was better than expected. I would definitely recommend, I'm curious enough on service alone to check it out on a normal day.

                                            1. Petrossian Paris is a lovely DineLA. The foie gras salad, Napoleon tartar, and the vanilla panna cotta for dessert. The chef is from the north of France and his tartar made from Nieman Ranch hanger steak is amazing. You'll want to take your time with this dish.

                                              The staff gives superb service, they're knowledgable and friendly. I will be back.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                Have to 2nd streetgourmetLA's recap. Had all 9 dinela items (dining as a large group and sharing). And I would order most of them again at regular price. This is rich french food - and I was glad I was sharing many of these as the portios are generous and a these rich foods goes a long way.

                                                The whole Dine LA menu was good with the strongest items being: Foie gras salad, Napoleon tartar, the shortribs and Black Truffle Mac & Cheese. Risotto was the weakest main course, and the chocolate dessert the weakest of the 3 offerings.

                                                From the regular menu, the beet soup was cool and refreshing, and the mushroom cappuccino amazing. I will go back again.

                                                -----
                                                Petrossian
                                                321 N Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA

                                              2. Michael's On Naples , Long Beach, $$ Dinner
                                                App Choice 3: Prosciutto D’Anatra con Fichi - House made Muscovy duck prosciutto with warm fig and mesculin salad. This dish was the hands-down winner. Melting texture, duck flavor noticeable but not overpowering, several soft dark figs and mesclun salad.
                                                Main Choice 1: Capesante in Padella - Seared Diver scallops with risotto and beech brown mushrooms- Two of the U-10 diver scallops, understated indeterminately flavored but creamy risotto, served while still al dente (which disappeared during the course), the beech mushrooms were few but intensely flavored. There was a whiff of fishy smell when the plates were served but the scallops were not overcooked, soft but not rare in center with a light hand on the sear. Acceptable but I might try another option.
                                                Deserts were generous, I had two large scoops of vanilla gelato and a row of maybe 6 amarena cherries, although not much sauce. The other desert a cupcake sized portion of panettone chocolate bread pudding with chocolate creme anglais. Good, but too heavy following a risotto course.
                                                Service was friendly, professional and unhurried, pacing was good, the manager and owner both stopped by the table.
                                                No "extras" other than the bowl of bread and excellent olive oil (balsamic is offered).
                                                Parking available but we both found spaces on 2nd Street for an early dinner.
                                                They have a "summer menu" so it's possible to dine fairly reasonably other than on the DineLA menu. However I thought dineLA menu a fair value, if you like dessert, priced at approx $10 range on the regular menu. Scallops/risotto were $24 on the regular menu but I assume you get more than 2.
                                                Dinner only, recommended.

                                                1. went to the lobster on Thursday night....Delicious and portions were nice size.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jannajones

                                                    I went to The Lobster on Friday and I agree with jannajones. I ordered the hamachi sushi as an appetizer. fresh and delicious! one other friend ordered off the dineLA menu as well and got the tempura prawn, which was quite tasty as well.

                                                    For my entree, I got the crabcakes. Two delicious crab-heavy cakes with a citrus cream underneath. They were topped with a very good corn salsa that was sweet and a great compliment to the seafood. My friend spent an extra $6 and got a 1 1/2 lb lobster steamed with butter and veggies. Didn't try that one, but she ate it all so it must have been great!

                                                    For dessert, we both got the chocolate panna cotta. It came with a super rich dark chocolate sorbet and little shortbread cookies. This dessert was good enough that I ate it all, even though I was full.

                                                    So far, so good. Two dine LA events and I have enjoyed them both immensely!

                                                  2. Color me disappointed. I went to Spago on Friday evening for the dineLA menu (and also to celebrate my girlfriend's birthday). It's not the first time we've been to a dineLA restaurant, and in general we have had quite good experiences. I feel like we're also quite familiar with top-notch service and food that we have come to expect from a restaurant of Spago's quality. While we didn't expect the same level experience we have received at restaurants such as Le Bernardin or Providence, I was sorely disappointed.

                                                    Let me start by saying that the both of us (and our guests) were very impressed with the service when we arrived. Everything from the valet, to the host, to the bartender was excellent. Unfortunately, eventually we had to head to our table and meet our server, Jason. Jason was... abrupt to say the very least. When we requested the dineLA menus (something I had mentioned when we made the reservation prior), he replied "fine" and left to get the menus. Upon returning to the table proceeded to collect the normal menu. We asked if we would be able to keep the regular menu, since we were interested in potentially adding a couple courses to the meal, since it was a celebration.

                                                    Jason left, only to come back a few minutes later and inform us that the chef would not allow us to add any additional courses. Of course I'm skeptical (perhaps only a very slight notch below calling him an outright liar), but fine. Suffice it to say at that point we were already disappointed. When we subsequently asked if we could at least add the corn agnolotti, he hesitated before finally saying that we could indeed have one plate of that to share amongst the four of us (no more... apparently). He also mentioned that the agnolotti would have to come out at the same time as the appetizers. Of course, we all had appetizers, so this made things a bit awkward. While we ate our appetizers, the pasta sat in the middle of the table getting cold. Hardly what I'd imagine any chef would want for his or her food.

                                                    As a capper to the evening, since it was my girlfriend's birthday, and we'd come to Spago since she had wanted to visit for years, I made a specific point of confirming with the restaurant that it was noted. They informed me that they would happily provide a candle for her dessert. A small, but in my mind classy touch. I reconfirmed with the host upon checking in, and still dessert came and went with no acknowledgment whatsoever. No candle, no birthday wishes, nothing. It was disappointing.

                                                    The food was fine. It was not knock your socks off brilliant, and somewhat below what I would have hoped for a restaurant with such acclaim. That being said, if the service hadn't been perhaps the worst service I've had since TGI Fridays, I believe we all would have enjoyed the meal. As it was, we left with a poor taste in our mouth. After we left, we contacted the restaurant and spoke to a manager, who informed us that he would look into the situation and give us a call to follow up. During the call to management, they confirmed that in their system it was noted that we were celebrating a birthday, so it's clear somebody dropped the ball. To his credit, he was very pleasant and generally apologetic, if non-committal, across the board. Three days later, still no word. I'm holding out hope we'll hear something, but I'm growing skeptical. In all, I can't recommend the restaurant unless you can be sure to avoid Jason...

                                                    -----
                                                    Spago
                                                    176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Gavin499

                                                      Gavin, I'm shocked by your experience at Spago. I've never had bad treatment in my numerous visits, and I strongly suggest you send a letter to the restaurant and cc: Wolfgang Puck. While calls are fine, without follow-up, things can be dropped.

                                                      1. re: Jwsel

                                                        This is very strange since when I was there several days before you, all the supplements (like the sweet corn agnotti) were listed on the dine LA menu. Very odd that they would remove them from subsequent menus...Can anyone else who was there later in the week confirm whether or not the supplements were listed on the their Dine LA menus?

                                                      2. re: Gavin499

                                                        Sounds like the tyranny of a pretentious waiter, not necessarily a reflection of the restaurant. Many have reported good experiences from Spago for DineLA so far.

                                                        The biggest rolling of the eyes during DineLA comes from wait staff, or unemployed actors and aspiring models. Generally, the chefs and managers welcome DineLA, as they signed themselves up for the program and realize the benefit as business owners. Waiters, while the majority are good providers of service, are not always pro.

                                                        But, it can be amateur hour on our side too. I saw a couple at Grace attacking a waiter, politely, over their misunderstanding of the supplemental items and pricing. They used the word deceptive to describe the menu. I thought it very clear. This is the kind of thing that can make waiters cringe, but it's still no excuse for what happened to you.

                                                        I say stick with the DineLA menu and pay attention to the menus and you'll be fine. And, beware of the waiter who doesn't realize he/she is a waiter, I don't mean that in a disrespectful way, but the idea that they are there to provide professional service is sometimes lost on them.

                                                      3. I headed off to The Bazaar by Jose Andres last night with the hubby and some friends for a double date night. We arrived a little late, but were promptly seated in the Roja room. The room itself was great...modern, red, and with a great view of the kitchen and Chef de Cuisine Marcel from Top Chef Season 2 working with his staff in the kitchen. I have to say that service at The Bazaar was excellent. Suggestions made by our waitress were very good, and she was super attentive. The waitstaff was also amazing in that they knew each dish to the "T" and were able to answer all of our questions regarding the ingredients.
                                                        Here's what we ate, and what I thought of the courses...we had 12 courses plus the 4 amuse bouches plus the 4 desserts plus plenty of cocktails, so there's a lot of ground to cover...but I'll highlight the best.
                                                        Amuse Bouche:
                                                        Gazpacho - the most flavorful that I've ever had. There was a fresh tomato flavor in additon to that of the cucumber, red peppers, and spices. My palate was so pleasantly surprised with how all the flavors melded together in such a simple dish.
                                                        BBQ eel tacos - it was good...flavorful, but I wasn't really digging the cucumber taco shell...it was a bit limp, but the flavors were nice.
                                                        Philly cheesesteak - I've been coveting this dish since The Bazaar opened, and it did not disappoint. The air bread was delightful, and the cheese foam was not as overpowering as I thought it would be, but the Waygu on top...delcious! It was like beef butter melting in your mouth.
                                                        Jamon Serrano platter - Simply the best Jamon Serrano that I've ever had! The assortment was a delicious sampling of how a pig should be cured. The regular Jamon Serrano was better than other samplings I've had in the past. The Iberico was so good...light...chewy...delicious! The Iberico Berlota (sp?) was like heaven! It was pork butter melting in my mouth. The tomato toast served with it was good, but not exactly what I was expecting. I didn't really get the fresh tomato flavor that I'm accustomed to.
                                                        Main Courses:
                                                        Butifarra Sentaor Moniyhan - Spanish version of cassoulet. It was good. A bit salty for me, but good. The guys really like it.
                                                        Hanger steak with pequillo peppers - Cooked perfectly, and the pequillo pepper sauce was a nice touch.
                                                        Canned mussels - So many people have commented on how great this dish is, and I didn't understand it. While it was good, it did not pack the flavor I was looking for.
                                                        Canned oysters - Now this dish was delcious. The oysters were soft and creamy...and tasted of the sea. Doused with Spanish olive oil, lemon, and pepper...it was amazing! I wish our order was larger!
                                                        Watermelon tomato skewers - A light and lovely break from all the heavy foods. It was as lovely as all the other CH have reported. Refreshingly good, however, I did not get the strong tomato flavor from the seeds as I was hoping.
                                                        Seared scallops with Romesco - The most perfectly seared scallop that I have ever had! I remember the Romesco being good, but because the scallop was seasoned and cooked so well. Perfect sear on the outside, opaque and tender on the inside.
                                                        Organized Caesar salad - A very interesting play on the orginal. It really tasted like a Caesar salad, but the elements were so unexpected. The crunch came from jicama, and not lettuce. The dressing was really lovely, and the presentation was spectacular.
                                                        Shrimp - A lovely Spanish version of shrimp scampi.
                                                        Chacuterie platter - Wonderful trio of cured Spanish meats. The sopprasata (sp?) was particularly good...nice cayenne and paprika flavors.
                                                        Desserts-
                                                        Warm chocolate heart - The least impressive of all the desserts. Normal molten lava cake. Best thing on the plate was the cardamom whipped cream.
                                                        Assortment of sorbets - Delightful! The pear sorbet was the best...tasted and had the texture of eating a pear, except it melted in your mouth. Raspberry was also delish. Mandarin orange...not much to write home about.
                                                        Apricot panna cotta - Made with Greek yogurt, it was wonderful. It was layered parfait-style with a layer of apricot jelly on the bottom, the panna cotta, and apricot foam on top. The flavors melded together nicely. The panna cotta was tart and creamy, the jelly was sweet and had a strong apricot flavor, and the foam was delicate. Really nice.
                                                        Flan - The best flan I've ever had, and being that it was a recipe from Chef Andres's grandmother, it wasn't surprising that it was so good.
                                                        Drinks:
                                                        Salt air margarita - A really clever drink. No salt rim, but salt foam on top so each sip had the wonderful salty taste. Margarita was great, too.
                                                        Magic mojito - Watching the cotton candy dissolve as the mojito mix is poured over it was fun. Lovely mojito, and I particularly loved the bits of cotton candy that hadn't dissolved...it provided great texture to the drink.
                                                        Jale Berry - Made with jalepeno, it certainly had a kick! Try it if you're into spicy.
                                                        Pisco sour - It was good, but all the other drinks seemed so much better.
                                                        Frozen caprihinia (sp?) - This was a great show. The bartender comes over to make the drink tableside. White rum, lemon/lime juices...and liquid nitrogen! The vapors from the liquid nitrogen could be felt across the table. And it was really, really cold! Because no ice or additional water was used to create the drink, it was certainly strong...but really good. I liken it to a sorbet...a really, really fun sorbet!
                                                        Overall, it was a great evening. Everyone was impressed with the food. However, the boys were still a tad hungry afterwards. I thought it was the perfect amount of food. Service was spectacular...and Mayor Villaraigosa and his TV anchor girlfriend walked into the dining room while we were having dinner.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: attran99

                                                          Hi attran99,

                                                          Sounds like you had a great evening at The Bazaar. I'm glad to hear that they're still putting out some delicious dishes (I love the Jamon Iberico de Bellota as well :).

                                                          For DineLA, did they allow you to move around the different rooms (keeping the tab open)?

                                                          1. re: exilekiss

                                                            Hi, exilekiss! It was a fabulous evening! The DineLA special did allow us to move between the rooms. We were first seated in Roja, I did ask if we could move between rooms, and our waitress was very accomodating with the idea. But because we were so excited with the kitchen view of Roja (where Marcel was working), we never made it to Blanco. We did move over to the Patisserie for dessert, and service was just as great there. They keep the tab open, and accounted for our order properly. Hope it helps!

                                                          2. re: attran99

                                                            WOW - attran99 - I too was there last nite and had the worst service imaginable (amuse bouche you say, really?). I'm guessing that the Roja room with a view of the kitchen receives better service? The host told us it would be a few minutes and sat us in the bar and left us until I said something and then we were sat in the blanco room, I guess.
                                                            Unfortunately I don't have time to write a complete detailed review at the moment, but while the food was fine, I just don't get the hype. Nothing was fantastic. Agree with your take on the eel taco; found the cheese in the philly to ooz and drip everywhere and the flavor just 'eh'; the Butifarra beyond salty; agree w/ you on the mussels; the shrimp was perfectly cooked though a tad light in the flavor department for my taste; the hanger steak was nice though a little too undercooked; agree w/ your take on the rasberry and mandarin sorbets; and the panna cotta had the consistency of runny yogurt i.e. NOT panna cotta.
                                                            We were not offered a chance to go to the other room or even told about it.
                                                            Simply couldn't have had a more opposite (and unappealing) time and am now angry that our treatment was so lame.
                                                            p.s. The scene there was the bastard child of Las Vegas and Bridge & Tunnel.
                                                            p.p.s. Really, really wanted to like it.

                                                            1. re: cinzia

                                                              Cinzia, I'm sorry that your experience was not up to par. It's such a shame when the experiences on the same night at the same restaurant do not come close. My group (particularly me) was totally excitied about the concept, and we really enjoyed our experience. Although in The Bazaar's defense, some of their most lauded items did not make the DineLA menu (i.e. olives Ferran Adria, caprese syringe, foie gras lollipops, assorted selection of Jamon Serrano, etc.). We added on just the assortment of the Serrano to our tab. You are right about the doneness of the hangar steak, it was a tad undercooked...but though I like my meat medium rare, I've started to become a fan of rare as of late so it was just fine to me. My panna cotta, on the otherhand, had set quite well, though it was not as set as the apricot jelly layer underneath. Our reservations were for 6:15PM, and we walked into the restaurant just at the start of service...perhaps that had something to do with the differences. Blanco was completely empty when we were seated, so maybe they filled up Roja first? Maybe you'd like to put in a notice to the restaurant about your experience, from what I've read on the board service is consistently excellent at The Bazaar, and what you experienced was far from. Esquire just named The Bazaar the best restaurant of 2009, and I'm sure that accolade doesn't speak for what happened to you last night.

                                                              1. re: attran99

                                                                Thank you for your thoughtful note attran99. You know I just couldn't believe it when I read your post and that we were there on the same night - I actually started to get angry. I do think that the fact you were there at 6:15 had just about EVERYTHING to do with it. But that is no excuse for a restaurant, period.

                                                                We too were excited about the concept and looking forward to the night. I read 'my last bite' and Jo has been there 11 times and raves about the food and the service and I too got excited from reading her posts. Though I am starting to think 'well, I guess it sure helps when you are a food writer.' ; )

                                                                And I don't think that the DineLA for this particular restaurant was a deal at all for what they offered but it certainly does give you the impetus to go. The four of us spent in excess of $100 per person (1 drink each and a bottle of wine) and for that I simply expect better service and better food all around.

                                                                Finally, I specifically had a martini (vodka) so that I could try the olive which was fun but one of my fellow diners had the same w/ gin and couldn't drink it.

                                                                I may contact them but, then again, probably just won't return.

                                                            2. re: attran99

                                                              Thank you for your review. We are going there tonight. Can't wait.

                                                            3. Has DineLA been extended a couple of weeks? No mention of that on the website.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: nosh

                                                                It's just through the end of this week, as far as I know.

                                                                1. re: mollyomormon

                                                                  For what it is worth, I called Border Grill and was told that their DineLA menu is being served until October 25.

                                                                  1. re: nosh

                                                                    And for Grace until October 31: http://www.gracerestaurant.com/index....

                                                                    1. re: groover808

                                                                      Catch at Casa del Mar is also through the end of the month.

                                                                2. re: nosh

                                                                  yes, they are extending it another week. they said to check the website this weekend to see the list of restaurants that are participating in the extension period.

                                                                3. Went to Anisette Brasserie in SM for lunch today....they were understaffed, and service, while very friendly, was a little uneven...understandable when a couple staff members fail to show up.

                                                                  They gave us dinela menus right away...said it was a great deal and everyone was ordering it...nice to be encourged rather than feeling like a cheapskake!

                                                                  As for food:

                                                                  Onion Soup - nice, a little strong, but solid.
                                                                  Goat Cheese Salad w/ beets - very tasty, fairly small portion.
                                                                  beef bourgonion - haven't had this in ages - seemed like a solid rendition, but not mind blowing
                                                                  chicken - a little bland, string beans were tasty
                                                                  kids salmon - delicious, served with really yummy string beans
                                                                  pot du creme - ok. i like vanilla pudding so it hit the spot

                                                                  room was interesting...reminded me of balthazar in nyc, but completely lacking the ambiance and life of that restaurant...more like a SF restaurant.

                                                                  would i return...maybe. i'm really not crazy about french bistro food, it wasn't particularly comfortable, and the regular prices are non inexpensive.

                                                                  oh, the cheese brioche bread was delicious

                                                                  and dustin hoffman dropped in...he left without being seated...not sure if it was because it was full or he just didn't like the table.

                                                                  for 22 pp, well worth it.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: manku

                                                                    You HAVE to get their breakfast pastries, especially that raisin bread and croissant!

                                                                    1. re: groover808

                                                                      DineLA week is being extended to October 18-23. A list of participating restaurants will be available by October 17.

                                                                      This is all according to the DineLA website.

                                                                      Just thought the fellow chowhounds might want to know.

                                                                      1. re: Tony

                                                                        I am batting three for three thus far! Last night I went to JiRaffe for DineLA. My dinner partner and I both ordered off the DineLA menu. They changed their menu from the first week, giving a change option for those who have been there before. Everything was wonderful!!

                                                                        We both started with the seared Maine scallops with frisee,mediterranean veggies, asparagus and herbs. There was also a light lemon vinaigrette around the side. The scallops were super fresh and beautifully seared. Just lovely!

                                                                        For my entree, I had the filet of beef on a bed of spinach with mushrooms and bone marrow in a bordelaise sauce. The beef was really tender and the sauce was rich and flavorful without being ridiculously heavy. My dining companion had the almond crusted John Dory in a lemon butter sauce with corn, mushrooms, peppers and capers. It came with spinach and fingerling potatoes. And, it was quite tasty as well (I liked my beef more). The servings were quite generous.

                                                                        For dessert, I got Lisa's cookies (Lisa is the pastry chef). It was a nice plate of a assortment of cookies that were much better than I anticipated. Really buttery. And, there were four different kinds of chocolate chip cookie on the plate (from regular, to double chocolate, to pecan, to peanut butter) and an upscale version of the magic bar, which tasted like pecan pie to me! I did think that the plate would have been perfect if there was a lemon bar or something like that on there (Lisa agreed, as I mentioned it when I got a chance to meet her).

                                                                        My dining companion was the winner, though getting the banana cream pie, which was really a tart filled with a light banana custard and topped with sugared bananas which were torched a la a creme brulee. That gave it a crackly crust. Very very good. . and I don't like banana desserts!

                                                                        Our waiter, Chris was outstanding. Answering all questions and just having a generally great attitude. All in all a great experience!

                                                                  2. $ DineLA dinner @ Luna Park last night:

                                                                    appetizer--goat cheese fondue with sliced apples and chunks of bread--tasted okay, not the tastiest fondue (actually, reminded me of a thinned down yogurt). the appetizer was big enough to share for 2-3 people though.

                                                                    main course--hangar steak with fries; the steak was deliciously cooked (rare), flavorful marinade, and juicy. also loved the fries.

                                                                    dessert--rather disappointing--the fried apple pie with caramel sauce and caramel ice cream. honestly, the "apple pie" reminded me of one of those Hostess fruit pies i had as a kid. On the bright side, the ice cream and sauce were quite nice.
                                                                    Probably should've gone with the make your own s'mores.

                                                                    Overall, it was a fun way to try out a new restaurant but Luna Park is probably a one-timer for me.

                                                                    1. Went to Spago for lunch...slightly haughty hostess, a little slow getting menus/bread/butter...things picked up from there.

                                                                      All dishes were solid...superb, perfectly cooked pork chop, halibut (not as good), fabulous beef raviolini with shrooms, nice tomato soup (little boring), deserts (apple thing and chocolate thing) were both ok...a little too fancy, imo. breads were terrific as usual. no problem with tap water. 95% (or so waiter claimed) were ordering dinela menu, and it is featured prominently when they hand you menu. wines by glass (tasty, dry prosecco, fantastic brewer clifton pinot noir for a mere $20/glass (it retails for $75/bottle), so $20 is truly a good price).

                                                                      all in all, a very nicely done meal...spago does not skimp at all on dinela - you get the full treatment...clearly lunch is an even better deal than dinner...also, for those with costco memberships, you can buy 100 gift cards for 80, saving even more $$$ in the process.

                                                                      1. cube on la brea and melrose has a great dineLA menu. i ordered the kabocha squash soup (cinnamon scented), steak on a bed of (extra creamy, cheesey) polenta and sauteed kale (kale is kale).

                                                                        two baby fruit crisps for dessert topped it all off. not too shabby. i can't wait to go back! also ordered a fig upside down cake with walnut oil gelato. my OH my was it good.

                                                                        can't wait to try spago - it sounds great!

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: tablefor1

                                                                          Just finishing reading all the reviews up to this point, and your review of Cube is the only one that might entice me to try it out, and not during DineLA week, as the balance of this week is booked up already. None of the other reviews do it at all, as in the items on offer have no appeal, or the ones I might want were done improperly, or the service, or the...

                                                                          1. re: tablefor1

                                                                            I just went to Cube for the first time for lunch today - it was great! Started with the ahi tuna crudo, then the truffle burger with stilton and also finished with the two fruit crumbles. All of it was amazing and for only $22 it's a steal. I'd definitely go back after dineLA is over, other entrees people were eating looked really good too.

                                                                          2. DineLA $$$ at Montage BH last night. Last minute-- had a babysitter and the hotel is close by. We had a wonderful meal. Husband started with the ahi, I had the jar of tomatoes-- both were unusual and delicious. For entrees, he had short rib and I had halibut (the other choice was NY strip which he enjoyed there once before). Dessert was cider donuts for him and chocolate/hazelnut goodness- can't remember the exact name but that is a fair description. The drinks are pricey so the final bill was high but the meal itself was a good value in a fine dining venue. The service was excellent and the staff was happy to have us. I would suggest trying it if you're close by and are looking for a special occasion type place.

                                                                            1. Had a nice time at the Beverly Hills/Venezuelan Coupa Cafe with friends. Welcoming service, our food was nice, not every day that you come across pabellon, the national dish of Venezuela, a stewy shredded beef with rice and beans. Tequenos, the cheese sticks of Venezuela and mini aprepas with nata cream were good. The coffee imported from Venezuela and chocolate at thie place are superb.

                                                                              A nice addition to the Dine LA list.

                                                                              1. I went to BLT Steak last night and fully agree with you that it was very tasty and a great deal for everything you get. Those popovers were so good! My friend and I both did the dineLA menu: I started with the mushroom risotto (perfectly cooked and very flavorful) while my friend got the endive salad which was also very good.

                                                                                We both got the duet of beef as our entree - both of us actually liked the steak (med rare) better than the short rib. We weren't offered any sauces as you were, but we did order a side of the jalepeno mashed potatoes that went well with steak. Those mashed potatoes were amazing, just the right amount of heat - would love to get that recipe!

                                                                                We also were way too full for dessert, but we got the chocolate brownie and the fruit tart. We were only able to eat a few bites, but both were very excellent.

                                                                                Overall a wonderful experience - service was great! All of the staff was really friendly and attentive, we weren't rushed and they spaced out all of the courses with ample time in between. It makes me want to go back there and do it all over again! :)

                                                                                1. Happy to say that I took my sister-in-law, her husband and my husband to Tam o'Shanter tonight - and it was great. For $35 you have a choice of three entrees (8 oz. prime rib, fish of the day and ?). This gives you your entree, soup or salad and dessert. Looking at the menu, basically if you get the prime rib - you are getting your dessert for free.

                                                                                  Service was great, they did not fret that three folks were doing dine LA and one wasn't - and the food was excellent.

                                                                                  So while it wasn't cheap, it was a treat to have nice food, nice service and basically free dessert for everyone!

                                                                                  1. I'm trying to decidie between La Vecchina Cucina and The dining room at the Hotel Shangr-La. Can anyone kindly give me any suggestions? Last week I had Simon LA and Ivan Kane. When I get a chance I'll give a better discription. Simon LA was geat. The Eggplant cakes w/baby argula was meal in itself. Service is wonderful but again they only had about 3 parties in the whole place. Ivan Kan's signiture grilled shimp w/vodka shot was interesting and tasty. The duck entree was too salty though.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: issey

                                                                                      We went to ortega 120 on thursday night for DineLA. the food was really good , better then i expected. we all had the DineLA menu. the pricing was pretty good for just 26 dollars per person. they were also serving their regular menu and the server also mentioned that the "hells kitchen" special was available as well. The only thing we didnt like is that they were very slow serving the food, they seemed overwhelmed. when there were less tables service was noticeably better, but for most of our meal it seemed like everyone working in the restaurant was running around trying to keep up with everyone dining. During DineLa it would seem like it would benefit them to have customer service/staffing up to par, since im sure some people dining may not come back due to slow service. Overall the food was well worth the wait. i liked the decor and atmosphere. There was a lot of ample garage parking behind the restaurant and most importantly, well at least to me, not having to fight traffic on the 405, 101, or 10 freeway was nice.

                                                                                    2. lacked the beautiful plate presentation that i expect from a high-end restaurant.

                                                                                      Appertizer: Endive salad and salmon rillete served with flat bread. The salad was refreshing with a touch of sweet aged balsamic vinegar. The rillette was nice but not as flavorful as the one i had at Palate Food & Wine, one of my favorites :-)
                                                                                      Entree: we chose the roasted sirloin, braised short rib, and fish (bass). The sirloin came in three thin round slices about 2.5 inches in diameter, medium rare but tasted dry like medium. The fish came in a tiny portion, bland. The tiny piece of shortrib was black on the outside that it blended perfectly in with the iron pot it came with. I had to cut out the black part because there was no flavor on it. Ii've had much better short rib at many other places ... and i could not help thinking that it was not even as good as mine.
                                                                                      Vegetables, peewee potato, sauteed mixed mushroom, like the appetizers, were automatically brought out to be shared by the whole table. Again they were not special at all, just simply cooked with oil, salt, herbs ... which was like everyday home cooking to me.
                                                                                      Dessert: once again nothing to remember.

                                                                                      Another disappointment was the wooden bread box which came with a few slices of ordinary white and black bread and the regular butter which came in a little round bowl, about over an inch across. I could not help thinking of the different varieties and the delicious butter at Spago a few days earlier. The butter sure looked pretty pathetic so i asked for olive oil which was not bad.

                                                                                      After the dinner the waiter came over to offer us a treat of caramelized popcorn with nuts which came in the same little round, pathetic looking bowl.

                                                                                      We were each given a $10 voucher for the next visit. As a first-timer, after looking at the impressive website, Craft did not do a good job of attracting me to come back. I agree with those who complaint about the format of the dinner and what was offered and am not sure if i like to dine there again.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: hlv2eat

                                                                                        Sorry about the above incomple report on Craft :-) ... here's the beginning

                                                                                        Craft has been on my to-try list since the day it opened but i always got side-tracked to some other places until this dineLA event. Unfortunately my experience there lagged behind both Water Grill and Spago big time regarding the quality/quantity of the food and presentation. The dinner was served family style, in mostly black iron pots, therefore lacked the beautiful plate presentation that i expect from a high-end restaurant.

                                                                                      2. Maison Akira 10/15

                                                                                        I was kinda undecided whether to go for Gordon Ramsay or to Maison Akira but my cousin really liked the meal at MA during the last dineLA that i was convinced so i cancelled GR on 10/14, two nights out in a row would be a little bit much for me.

                                                                                        I was not disappointed with the food but the place felt kinda old and there was a moldy smell when we first walked in.

                                                                                        There were 4 choices for appetizer, entree, and dessert so 4 of us decided to try everything offered.

                                                                                        Appetizer: corn soup (very good, imho, sweet and full of corn flavor), foie gras, seared albacore.

                                                                                        Entree: White fish in lobster sauce, rack of lamb, Snake River Farm 'kobe' beef ($10 supplement), bento box with chef Akira signature Chilean seabass in miso sause, beef Bourguignon, Hokkaido scallop with rice, country pate. All the hot food came on hot plates, nice touch!

                                                                                        All the dishes were well prepared and flavorful, especially the fish and the beef.

                                                                                        Dessert were on the ordinary side, not inventive, just classic choices. Flourless chocolate was like a warm thick chocolate moussed, too rich for me. Crepes and orange sauce, and creme brulee were nice but no special.

                                                                                        The food at Maison Akira were artistically presented showing that the chef really cared about what he sent out of the kitchen. I was happy to finally try this place and like to visit again when i come to the Pasadena area but I hope they do something about the interior though, replacing the carpet maybe?

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: hlv2eat

                                                                                          I am late adding this to the list, but my final meal was at Water Grill. I was very excited as I am a big fan of seafood. But, I have to say this was my least favorite meal of the two weeks.

                                                                                          They offered as an amuse bouche spicy tuna wrapped in cucumber with a dollop of fish eggs on the side. It was tasty, a little spicy and a nice start.

                                                                                          For an appetizer, I got the Big Eye Tuna Sashimi - Yuzu, Red Radish, Asian Pear and Shiso. It was okay. . .nothing special and nothing I would ever order again. My dining companions got the White Chowder with Manila Clams - Weiser Farm Potatoes, Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, which they seemed to enjoy. But, they did mention that the serving seemed a little small.

                                                                                          For my entree, I got the South Pacific Ridgeback Swordfish - Grilled, with Heirloom Squash and Brown Butter Balsamic Vinaigrette. I thought this was just okay. The fish was bland and I got no additional flavor from the butter or balsamic. This was one time where I wanted there to be salt on the table. One of my dining companions got the same dish, the other got the Alaskan Halibut - Sautéed and Basted, with Lavender, Meyer lemon, and Madagascar Vanilla Bean Oil. She said it was just okay too. I had to chuckle, because when we asked the waiter for his recoomendation on the entree, he said "well, we are the best seafood restaurant in the city. . so they are all excellent". Different palates for different folks, I guess.

                                                                                          The best part of my meal was the dessert (which is not a good thing because that is never my favorite part of the meal), which was the Fromage Blanc Cheesecake - Ginger Poached Pears, Raspberries, Guava and Graham Cracker Streusel. The cheesecake was not overly sweet and was complimented well by the graham cracker crust.

                                                                                          So, 3 out of 4 ain't bad. Maybe my expectations were too high for Water Grill. I don't think I will be rushing back anytime soon.

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Water Grill
                                                                                          544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                                                                        2. A few places I hit for lunch last week (I need to be able to do pretty late lunches, and can't do dinners. sigh, stupid work consumes every hour).

                                                                                          Sugarfish Marina Del Rey - this is nearby and I'd been meaning to try it out. They certainly mean the sugar, I'm not sure how much sugar they add to their sushi rice mixtures (and they seemed to have differently prepared sushi rice for some of the nigiri and rolls, depending on the fish) but it is a lot. Overwhelmed most all the fish. After asking for the dine LA menu I saw it was basically splitting the difference between the Trust Me and Trust me Lite pseudo omakase they offer. So I just got the Trust Me because it was the same thing as the dine LA menu with more nigiri.
                                                                                          Started off with a edamame appetizer - it was acceptable, I've had a lot better.
                                                                                          Then they brought out an albacore sashimi plate dressed in ponzu sauce. at first I thought this was overdressed, but actually it was just barely overdone, the fish still came through and complemented (though a little bit overwhelmed) by the sauce.
                                                                                          The nigiri came out and all the fish was very fresh, the albacore and salmon were okay the yellowtail was the standout and the halibut was pretty darn good as well (though it was more overwhelmed by the sugary rice). The toro and crab handrolls were average, but the crab was a good way to end the meal.

                                                                                          Service was prompt, but not especially attentive, the quality of the fish was good enough that this will be a great alternate to suggest to my friends when they want to go to kabuki (though even good fish is lost on them because they drown every piece of sushi in soy sauce so "you don't have to taste the fish, which is the point."). But for this price range of sushi, this place doesn't hold a candle to Sushi Central, which just dominates them in every way possible in quality, rice, fish, freshness and flavor.

                                                                                          I also dropped by Sushi Roku in Santa Monica one afternoon, just beating the last call. The dine LA lunch looks to be equivalent to their executive bento box. I got the albacore sashimi, like Sugarfish this was dressed in a ponzu sauce and it was radically overdressed, the fish had no flavor or profile in the dish other than the texture of sashimi.

                                                                                          The bento box was surprisingly heavy. the tempura was nothing special, the blackened cod was pretty good, the sashimi was weak (the salmon not all that fresh, but not old tasting either, in many ways my favorite part of the bento box was the yuzu root and the middling sunomono.

                                                                                          I ordered the chocolate lava mountain or whatever it was called, but the waitress got it wrong, when she asked again what I was getting for dessert so I corrected her, and she, not really listening, said, "oh the chocolate souffle." The chocolate souffle was fine, about the size of a silver dollar, with a good raspberry sauce and a tiny scoop of vanilla icecream, very elegant and a good way to finish off the heavy bento box. Not worth the ** price scale though, Sugar fish was better, and again, Sushi Central, which is significantly less expensive than Sushi Roku, is much better (though Roku has much better service and fabulous decor, Roku for dates, Central for eating).

                                                                                          I was in Beverly Hills the next day and found out McCormick and Schmicks was still open for lunch at 4:00. I stopped off at the bar and ordered the oysters, the albacore and the chocolate dessert. The oysters were good, one was still partially attached to the shell and it was whisked away and a fresh one was brought out almost instantly. They were out of albacore so they substitued a similar fish after asking if that was okay. This was coated in black and white sesame seeds and lightly seared, it was presented with a great sauce, and some perfectly cooked arugala (cooked with a bit of garlic) which made a great accompaniment. The dessert was the standout though, it was enormous, big enough for three people, but I downed it easily (hey I hadn't eaten all day tat that point). Great ice cream, chocalate and nuts, a very decadent sort of ice cream sunday you could only dream of as a kid. :) (this dessert is probably the best of anything I've had on dine LA). Overall this was my best meal, and I think my family would get a kick out of dining on rodeo drive next time they're in town, so I'll probably go back (and really, pseudo-chain restaurants like this are ideal for them. :-p).