Recommendation for Birthday dinner for Mom from MN
My parents are coming into town to visit this weekend, and my Mom's birthday was just over a week ago, and I wanted to take her out for her birthday. My parents are not foodies at all (their idea of going out is Applebees, Chilli's, Olive Garden, etc.... - they live in the burbs), but they do appreciate good food when I take them out here. I've taken them to the classics: Father's Office, BigMista, Langer's, Monte Alban, and Square One to name a few (and they loved them all, except for Monte Alban, they were not big fans). I definitely am planning on taking them to Umami.
My first thought was taking her to a steak house, because she always talks about having a "good steak" - I think she really has never had a really good one. But I don't really know much about the good steak houses here (though I know about Cut). Then the post about Fogo de Chao got me thinking about taking her there (and I haven't been to a churrascaria since I was in Brazil), and I've always wanted to try Parks (Korean) BBQ, so I was thinking about that too. Also on my "list" were Gjelina, Anisette and Animal, though I recently went to both Gjelina and Anisette (loved both), and I like to try new (but good) places.
Now, both of my parents are pretty typical Minnesotans, and don't do high-end dining really ever, so I don't really want to take them a place where it is too upscale or fine dining, and they feel out of place. I don't want to spend too much money, since I'm still recovering with this economy, so less than $75/pp preferably. And I live on the Westside, so I'd prefer not to drive too far (past the 110).
From all that you outlined here I would think Animal might make a really nice choice. Especially if you get a series of appetizers to share. You should be well within your price range and have a fantastic meal.
I've entertained several people from the twin cities that have enjoyed themselves immensely at Chinois in Santa Monica. With 3 people, sit at the counter, watch the kitchen at work (3 feet away), and share everything family style. It is an expensive place; however, the following would work within your budget:
15.50 - Chinois Chicken salad
17.50 - Stir fried Lamb
38.50 - Szechuan Beef
32.50 - Catfish (or the Salmon).
11.00 - Duck fried rice
$115 + Tax & Tip = $150 or $50 per person.
2 apps, 2 mains, the rice (great with the sauces of the mains), and you've still got $25 per person left for any adult beverages, dessert(s) & valet.
Fogo de Chao is within your budget and it is a meat and steak lovers dream. I think your parent would be very comfortable there and find it a real treat. Service is wonderful. The salad bar which is included is amazing. Also they charge less for the same meal at lunch. Cut is great but way out of your budget.
What abot Musso & Frank? That's a classic steakhouse, within your range and elegant without being too posh and fancy.