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Oct 7, 2009 01:24 PM

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 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

            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.