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Most interesting food in LA... In town one night

m
Marqoid Apr 11, 2010 07:21 PM

I will be in LA for one night in April and want to have an excellent dining experience to celebrate my anniversary (it doesn't have to be a romantic place). I am open to any style of food so long as it is the best that can be had. I like the idea of a lengthy tasting menu, I like the idea of molecular gastronomy, but again, I'm open to anything. I wanted to make it into ludobites, but all reservations are full. Otherwise, I considered Bazaar, but I've read some pretty mediocre reviews. I have read some great things about the tasting menu at Spago, but Spago doesn't seem very original, almost cliche.

Thanks for any suggestions

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Spago
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

  1. f
    foodiemahoodie Apr 15, 2010 05:45 AM

    Melisse ( get the carte blanche menu) and Providence. Not sure which I would rate higher. The Bazaar is fun, and wouldn't be a mistake - in some ways - largely the creative aspect of the food - makes it the most interesting restaurant in L.A. but as a fine dining experience, you only get that at Melisse and Providence. The service at Bazaar is, well, bizarr and indifferent. (Nothing like a euro haute cuisine experience because they keep you waiting - and waiting for a table.)

    1. aching Apr 13, 2010 01:12 PM

      I think AOC, myself. It's not the newest or the hottest at this point, but if you haven't been there before, who cares? Very interesting small plates with lots of variety. I also second Gjelina if that works better geographically - I don't think the food is quite as good as AOC, but it's pretty damn good - and the butterscotch pot de creme is unbelievable.

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      AOC
      8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

      Gjelina
      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA

      1. j
        Jwsel Apr 12, 2010 11:09 PM

        I'll join the group that does not consider Spago's tasting menu cliche. It's excellent.

        One place that has not been mentioned yet is Melisse. I seem to be one of the only Melisse cheerleaders on this board, but I have had two amazing meals there in the past year. You can do a 10-course tasting menu or mix-and-match three to four courses (plus a cheese course if you so desire) from their various menus.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/692838

        By the way, not that I consider Michelin stars to be the be-all and end-all of evaluating quality, but the four restaurants in LA that have received two Michelin stars are Melisse, Spago, Providence and Urasawa. My experience at Providence did not live up to expectations, but Melisse and Spago did, with Melisse consistently exceeding them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jwsel
          j
          Jwsel Apr 12, 2010 11:11 PM

          Since it wouldn't add a link to Melisse before, here is the information.

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          Melisse Restaurant
          1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

        2. peppermonkey Apr 12, 2010 04:59 PM

          forget bazaar, definitely forget bouchon
          Spago's tasting menu is wonderful, not cliche at all
          Rivera is very intersting. if you talk to lucas he can set you up with a tasting menu with or w/o drink pairings at whatever price you choose.

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

          3 Replies
          1. re: peppermonkey
            p
            Pathological Eaters Apr 12, 2010 11:01 PM

            Rivera is actually a little underwhelming. It's definitely a hot spot right now, but buzz isn't an indicator of good food as we all know. While the drink menu is certainly inspired, the food lacks sincerity. If you're looking for pan-Latin cuisine that favors flavor over flare, go with Ciudad.

            EAT. EXPERIENCE. ENJOY!

            1. re: Pathological Eaters
              peppermonkey Apr 13, 2010 11:03 AM

              Been to both and definitely prefer rivera for both food and cocktails. The food is more sophisticated and mind opening. My only gripe is that he hasn't changed the menu since opening. The cocktails on the other hand change with every season and all always new and interesting.

              1. re: peppermonkey
                t
                toonoble Apr 13, 2010 11:53 AM

                I went to Rivera for lunch last week and the waiter told us they were changing the dinner menu by offering 3 different menus in the 3 different areas of the restaurant. Apparently it started last week but the website doesnt show it yet. Very Bazaar like. Should be interesting.

          2. a
            andytseng Apr 12, 2010 02:07 PM

            With it being one of the more veteran LA restaurants (relatively speaking), I feel like it gets lost in the shuffle of things, but AOC is still one of my favorite places to go.

            Like most of the other posters, Urasawa is #1 on my list when the wallet allows it.

            -----
            AOC
            8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

            Urasawa Restaurant
            218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

            1. c
              cdub Apr 12, 2010 02:06 PM

              one of the places that's doing the most interesting stuff lately is the dining room at the langham. ate there recently and was blown away. m. voltaggio is doing some great stuff lately.

              1. l
                la tache burger Apr 12, 2010 12:26 PM

                Sneak into ludobites early as a walk-in. Most likely you will get lucky. Your first instinct here is the best. Casual and genius and fun -- and romantic as a result. If it doesn't work out, have made a reservation elsewhere.

                1. m
                  Marqoid Apr 11, 2010 09:32 PM

                  Anyone with thoughts on Animal?
                  I had read about the two chefs in Food&wine last year and was interested in such a meatcentric place. Is it worth while?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Marqoid
                    p
                    Pathological Eaters Apr 11, 2010 10:05 PM

                    Bazaar is definitely a unique dining experience.....fabulous modern and tradition tapas...an exquisite drink menu and an alice in wonderland/80's dessert room make it an excellent overall experience for a special event..

                    Another honorable mention would be Bouchon (Thomas Keller's take on a French Bistro is top quality)...honestly it's so hard to narrow with the high quality food in LA!!

                    EAT EXPERIENCE ENJOY!

                    1. re: Marqoid
                      a
                      attran99 Apr 12, 2010 01:05 AM

                      Animal would probably be a unique experience in that there aren't too many restaurants with the same concept. Never been, but been wanting to try it. I would second/third/fourth The Bazaar...only if you've never been to a restaurant known for its molecular gastronomy. Prices are a bit steep, but you're sure to spend less than an evening at Urasawa. If you do go, try the jamon serrano assortment plate, the philly cheesesteak, and the flan...those are some of my favorites. Make sure you try their cocktails, too...the night we went, we tried at least 6 of their drinks and found them all to be a great hit.
                      I wouldn't suggest Bouchon as a unique experience...though you can't find Thomas Keller everywhere, you can definitely find the French Bistro concept anywhere.

                      -----
                      Urasawa Restaurant
                      218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                      Bouchon Bistro
                      235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                      1. re: Marqoid
                        mollyomormon Apr 12, 2010 11:49 AM

                        Animal is currently my favorite restaurant in LA, so I'm obviously biased, but I think you would be very pleased there. It's basically the best of California cuisine (market driven, seasonal ingredients) with a ton of bacon added to it. I'm oversimplifying, but really, I've never had a dish there that I haven't found to be both delicious and interesting, but interesting without being overly precious, if that makes any sense. I love the Bazaar as well, but I've definitely had dishes there that while interesting in execution, missed the mark a bit in terms of taste. There's no molecular gastronomy at Animal, but I still feel like every dish is intensely creative and have the sense that the chefs have tasted each dish over and over, to make it as delicious as possible.

                        I think Spago is still great and I wouldn't call it cliche at all, but I also don't think of the food as especially interesting.

                        You might also look into Bistro LQ, as many of the dishes feature molecular gastronomy influences and you could get a tasting menu there.

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                        Spago
                        176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                        Bistro LQ
                        8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                        1. re: mollyomormon
                          Servorg Apr 12, 2010 02:40 PM

                          One more strong vote for molly and attran's suggestion of Animal. Great, unique, delicious and reasonable. What more could you ask for?

                      2. Emme Apr 11, 2010 09:04 PM

                        i agree that if you like sushi and can afford it, (and can get in), Urasawa would be my first choice.

                        for a great tasting menu, i agree with DrBruin that you can't go wrong at Providence

                        i've had a couple of great meals at Bazaar, so i wouldn't necessarily dismiss it either.

                        finally, if you're into game, and think you might like a lovely spot in topanga canyon, Saddle Peak Lodge is certainly an "interesting food" choice.

                        ETA: not sure what your budget is, but another solid choice would be Gjelina in Venice.

                        welcome and enjoy!

                        -----
                        Urasawa Restaurant
                        218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                        Saddle Peak Lodge
                        419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Emme
                          o
                          ozhead Apr 12, 2010 09:37 AM

                          The Saddle Peak Lodge is NOT in Topanga Canyon (I am, and I wish it were). It is in the Santa Monica Mountains, but farther west -- on Piuma Rd., off Malibu Cyn. Rd.

                          -----
                          Saddle Peak Lodge
                          419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

                          1. re: ozhead
                            Emme Apr 12, 2010 04:17 PM

                            my apologies. brain fart.

                          2. re: Emme
                            p
                            Pathological Eaters Apr 12, 2010 09:48 AM

                            Forgot about Gjelina...pretty interesting small plates if you are in the mood for an Italian/California food experience. Note of caution though, you will need to book at least 2 weeks in advance if you want your own table or if you don't mind sharing a communal table you could just walk in but probably with an hour wait. Not a huge problem considering how many places there are to grab a drink while you are waiting on Abbot Kinney!

                            EAT EXPERIENCE ENJOY!

                          3. m
                            mc michael Apr 11, 2010 08:41 PM

                            As a wild card pick, you might want to contact the chef at Bastide and see what he can whip up for you. www.bastidela.com
                            Ditto Rivera.

                            -----
                            Bastide Restaurant
                            8475 Melrose Place, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                            1. ipsedixit Apr 11, 2010 08:06 PM

                              Urasawa is a fabulous dining experience.

                              But if want interesting, then Saam would be my choice.

                              1. n
                                nachosaurus Apr 11, 2010 07:55 PM

                                i would say spago. i know that it "seems" cliche - but it is truly amazing. it has the most pleasant service, and the variety of styles is broad. french, japanese, californian, italian, etc. it's like puck can do everything perfectly. it's just an overall wonderful experience.

                                i have been to bazaar and was impressed by the innovation, but felt that the overall taste was lackluster. it was cool - but not something i would want to do again and i felt overcharged. i never feel that way at spago.

                                i have been to urasawa as well - and it is an amazing and special and one of a kind experience. but - if you're into something other than japanese food, i really find it limited. it's a great experience and great fun, and a lifetime memory - but i'm not sure it's worth the $$.

                                someplace i have not been - but want to go is XIV - which has a 36 course tasting menu for $250 . . . or at least it did:

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/635323

                                -----
                                XIV
                                8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                                1. c
                                  cls Apr 11, 2010 07:42 PM

                                  If interesting is what you want, I don't think Water Grill, Providence or Urasawa qualify. Maybe Urasawa... otherwise these are exceptional restaurants but "most interesting??" I think you can get something comparable in any major city. My vote is for Jitlada. Definitely not romantic, but high on the interesting list.

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

                                  Jitlada
                                  5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                  Urasawa Restaurant
                                  218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cls
                                    m
                                    Marqoid Apr 11, 2010 08:06 PM

                                    I had never heard of Urasawa, but I just read a few reviews and it sounds amazing. But, I do think that $350/person is a bit steep. Would be perfect, except the price.
                                    In reading those reviews there were a few suggestions, as far as sushi goes, for Mori or Sushi zo.

                                    -----
                                    Urasawa Restaurant
                                    218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                  2. J.L. Apr 11, 2010 07:32 PM

                                    If your budget allows for it ($350+ per person), perhaps you can experience the sushi kaiseki at Urasawa, in Beverly Hills. It is an omakase tasting menu (Chef Hiro-san's choice, usually 35 to 40 small courses).

                                    And indeed, many Chowhounds in L.A. will agree that is absolutely the best that can be had. My last meal there (in March) consisted of 36 flawless courses, and lasted 5.5 hours.

                                    -----
                                    Urasawa Restaurant
                                    218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: J.L.
                                      l
                                      lizziee Apr 14, 2010 01:55 PM

                                      This won’t be my best write-up of Urasawa. The meal was perfect, but I was having such a good time that my notes are horrible with sketchy, and probably inaccurate details. Obviously, I will have to let the photos tell most of the story.

                                      Seasonality is the key to dining at Urasawa. To get the best of Urasawa, if you can afford it, would be to go at least 4 times a year – winter, spring, summer, fall.

                                      As best as I can reconstruct from my notes, a slice of toro had been “stuffed” with monkfish liver, held together with a slice of turnip from Kyoto, then topped with scallion and gold leaf, yuzu dressing

                                      Goma tofu, Kyoto-style. Tofu made from sesame seeds, stuffed with Uni, spring vegetables on the side. The tofu was topped with freshly grated wasabi and gold leaf.
                                      Saucing was a light dashi seasoned with shoyu and mirin. I love this dish

                                      Spring vegetables – Fiddlehead, Bamboo, Okra and Salmon rolled around Japanese Mountain Root, Dried fish eggs, Sweet miso

                                      Sashimi served in a hand carved ice bowl. The ice bowl is never re-used; Hiro carves a fresh one for each person. The Sashimi consisted of Toro, Kanpachi, Shima Aji (Amberjack) and Uni placed in a manila clam shell. The wasabi is freshly grated, Hiro’s soy sauce is made by him and the gorgeous flower again defined the beautiful seasonality of this dish.

                                      Hiro and I then started talking about uni – this is definitely interactive dining. I mentioned that I loved the Hokkaido uni that Corey Lee served us at French laundry. He said he had some but didn’t want to serve it as it didn’t look “pretty”, but tasted perfectly. Of course, I said I’ll eat it.

                                      Beef Tartare from Northern Japan with Russian caviar, Red Pickle radish – superb
                                      Red Snapper ‘Bundle” steamed with sake. The red snapper was placed on hot stones and sake mushi was added. The steaming process cooks the dish evenly and produces an incredibly moist and succulent dish. Dipping sauce of ponzu with radish was provided.

                                      Spring Vegetable Tempura

                                      Hoba Yaki – On a giant Hoba Leaf were fresh shrimp, beef and ???? sitting in a puree of Kyoto miso sauce that is made by mixing egg yolk with sweet miso. The dish was being lightly roasted in the Hoba leaf for a couple of minutes over the coals on the brazier. Unbelievable and the sauce was perfect just by itself.

                                      Shabu, Shabu
                                      Kobe, Foie Gras and Hotaru Ika/Firefly squid
                                      Thank goodness we didn’t have to cook it – we had help and the foie takes the longest to cook. After you have consumed each ingredient, you are given a soup spoon to enjoy the broth.

                                      Now sushi is presented. Hiro is still using 180 grains of rice per each sushi. John didn’t get a photo of each and every piece of sushi so this is not a complete array of what we were served. I was also not on the ball and didn’t write down each piece. I will try to the best of my ability identify each piece, but I can’t vouch for my accuracy.

                                      Toro
                                      Aji
                                      Red Snapper
                                      Grilled Shitake Mushroom
                                      Maguro
                                      Squid
                                      Uni
                                      Kohada
                                      Needlefish
                                      Giant Clam
                                      Toro
                                      Tamago

                                      What a perfect restaurant, what a perfect evening, what perfect cuisine and what a master chef.

                                      Pics here:
                                      http://lizziee.wordpress.com/2010/04/...

                                      -----
                                      Urasawa Restaurant
                                      218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                      Shima
                                      1432 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                      Goma Restaurant
                                      5358 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                      Yaki's
                                      464 W Huntington Dr, Monrovia, CA 91016

                                      Kanpachi
                                      1425 W Artesia Blvd Ste 27, Gardena, CA 90248

                                      1. re: lizziee
                                        J.L. Apr 14, 2010 08:36 PM

                                        Yaki's in Monrovia?

                                        1. re: J.L.
                                          Servorg Apr 15, 2010 04:38 AM

                                          Auto linking gone wild

                                    2. DrBruin Apr 11, 2010 07:27 PM

                                      Try to get reservations at Urasawa... however, you may be too late for this place. I would also consider going to Providence as well. I've never had their tasting menu but have read detailed descriptions about their tasting menu and it sounds amazing... I'm sure you can find the posts here on Chowhound. I'm not sure if Water Grill does a tasting menu but I've enjoyed the food there are a few occasions. I'm sure you can call in advance. Personally, I don't think you could go wrong at Spago either... cliche or not.

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

                                      Spago
                                      176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                      Urasawa Restaurant
                                      218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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