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Feb 13, 2010 12:48 PM

$500 meal

My wife's boss gave her a $500 bonus to be used at any L.A. restaurant. Any amazing suggestions?

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  1. That'll buy dinner for one without alcohol at Urasawa... ;-)

    Otherwise, Providence. Not the most unique suggestion, but most Chowhounds will agree it's one of the best restaurants in LA.

    1. I love Melisse. It's one of the few LA restaurants that constantly impresses me and I think it is great for a couple. The food is fantastic French and the room is elegant if you want a romantic dinner.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jwsel

        a friend of ours give us $500 gift cert to melisse. went few months ago and did carte blanche tasting menu with half bottle of white wine and took mouton rothschild for red..after 5 cost was $635 after tip and tax for two.

        1. re: rickym13

          My last visit, a few months ago, was dinner for three. We did the regular, not carte blanche, menu, but added a fifth course in which we shared an order of the lobster bolognese. We also had two truffle supplements. We purchased one bottle of wine and I brought a bottle of champagne for which corkage was waived. Out final cost after tax and tip was $671. So I would think it would be quite possible to have dinner for two for under $500. The regular tasting menu is $105 per person, though doing truffles as supplements does drive up the price.

      2. I have to agree with both Providence and Melisse. They're just both lovely, fine dining
        experiences. A friend of mine went to Providence recently, after hearing me rave about it for ages, and said she had one of the best meals she's had in years. (and she used to own restaurants.)
        She also said the place was packed....on a weeknight. There's a reason it continues to do so well.

        1. I agree with the Melisse recs above, but can't recommend Providence due to service issues when I was there (it sucks to be treated ungraciously when you are celebrating at a nice restaurant). If you are going on a weeknight, I'd recommend Spago - getting the tasting menu and sitting on a table in the courtyard can be magical. The food is just so delicious and the wine pairings spot on. If you are just ordering the regular menu, then don't bother with Spago.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Senor Popusa

            I've had nothing but great service at Providence. Even on busy nights.

            I'd highly recommend both Melisse and Providence. Both are world class fine dining restaurants.

            1. re: foodiemahoodie

              I personally enjoyed Providence the one time I went (for my birthday with family), but I was the only member of my family who did. And, even then, I was not blown away like I have been on all my visits to Melisse. I suspect if I went to Providence and had an all-out tasting menu, I would feel differently, but the regular menu was not "amazing." I also found the ambience a bit lacking. The restaurant is neat, but it seemed cold. (I've had a similar reaction to Patina downtown -- beautiful restaurant, but not that welcoming.) If the OP wants a romantic dinner, I don't think Providence is the place.

              A few more options. If you love beef, Cut might be a great option. The American Snake River Wagyu porterhouse for two is probably the best steak I've ever eaten (and I'm very discriminating about steaks). And the rest of the menu is excellent. It is a bit of a "scene" restaurant, and suffers from some of the same ambience issues as Providence, though. I just found the menu had more dishes that "wowed" me.

              I'm also a big fan of Spago's tasting menu and have had wonderful service every time I've gone there. At every meal, there have been some dishes on the tasting menu that did "wow" me. I still dream about a rabbit dish we had (which the chef said at the time are only available on certain weekends and only as part of the tasting menu because the source is limited) and frog's legs dish from two visits ago. And my last visit included the agnolotti with truffles (we got cauliflower agnolotti because sweet corn was no longer in season) and a pheasant dish that was fantastic. Only go there if you are doing the tasting menu, but it really is a great restaurant.

              1. re: Jwsel

                My recent experience at Spago with their 10-course tasting menu wasn't that stellar. Food was good but really outstanding and service was the worst so far at Spago. I liked some of their tasting menus a few years ago but recently the quality dropped. Providence has always be great in terms of food and service and we found it much better than Spago.