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Apr 21, 2010 08:44 AM

Large Group, Santa Monica Area, Informal for Mom's 80th Birthday

Help. We're all from out of town, in town for my daughter's wedding, and decided to have a dinner for my mom's 80th birthday while we're together. About 20 of us. Nothing exotic, formal, chic or expensive. Mostly something that says "California" and that Mom will remember. Thanks.

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  1. They have two nice private rooms at Westside Tavern in West LA. Good food and not too expensive.

    Westside Tavern
    10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

    1. Fritto Misto is fun for this, and the Santa Monica location has let me use the entire back room before. The only caveat is that their wooden chairs might be a bit uncomfortable for your mom; maybe bring a cushion for her.

      Fritto Misto
      601 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

      1. I posted about my mother's 80th birthday at Fraiche in Santa Monica. If you search this board for birthday lunch and Fraiche I'm sure you'll find it.

        1. Any particular area of LA?? How far do you want to travel?? Where are you staying, the Westside?? It's just such a huge spread out area, I'd hate to rec places that are nowhere near where you will be.

          That said, I would do something like the Ivy or Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, something with decent California cuisine. But it really depends on when you're here and where you are.

          Napa Valley Grille
          1100 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024

          8 Replies
          1. re: Phurstluv

            Here's the challenge. A few of us are staying in Santa Monica (where the reception is), a few of us are closer to the airport (for convenience on departure day). But mostly, I want something that "feels" like California, for mom (so, not in Van Nuys, where the wedding and rehearsal are). Does that help? In OC, we were considering the Orange County Mining Company. thanks.

            Orange County Mining Company
            10000 Crawford Canyon Rd, Santa Ana, CA 92705

            1. re: LouInFortWorth

              Take her to the Cafe Del Rey, it's in the Marina, halfway between LAX and Santa Monica. Very Californian, great view of the yachts to boot, and reasonable prices for exceptional food at that type of location.

              Go early enough to see the sunset, or treat her to Sunday brunch, $35 per person IIRC, and unlimited mimosas or champagne. Excellent value for that level of food. Just went ourselves two weeks ago and my MiL LOVED it.

              Cafe Del Rey
              4451 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

              1. re: Phurstluv

                second the Cafe del Rey recommendation and will add
                1) they also have an excellent wine-by-the-glass list if anyone in the party is into wine
                2) if you go for the three course prix fix sunday brunch, i recommend that you try their grilled asparagus salad wild mushrooms, fried egg, reggiano, and black truffle vinaigrette as your entree.
                (phurstluv is correct about both the price and the unlimited sparkly/mimosa policy)

                here is their website:

                this place is on my regular rotation; i love it.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  OMG - that is the salad I had for brunch, two weeks ago, and I practically licked the plate, and I usually do not get so excited by an asparagus salad, but it was just PHENOMENAL.

                  Just for the OP, my DH had the sausage-potato frittata - wonderful. And my MiL had the brioche french toast - should not be allowed on earth, only heaven, it was so fantastic. And the children even inhaled theirs, which came with a lovely little fruit salad as their app. We even couldn't stop raving about the bread basket. Crazy good. Why that place isn't packed to the gills with a line out the door every Sunday is beyond me, but I'm sure glad it's not. And PS - they have a live Jazz Trio at brunch.

                  Westsidegal is right on the $$$ everytime she recs this, we followed her advice and are now forever grateful. We will be going again in a few weeks when my parents are in town. Thanks again, friend.

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    i am THRILLED that you enjoyed the place as much as i do.
                    now, i'll give you a little secret tip.
                    if, some sunday, you want to get that asparagus salad or anything else on that brunch menu but you want to order a la carte instead of having the prix fix, you can do it by going into the lounge/bar area and ordering it there.
                    the a la carte price for the asparagus salad is ~ $14 or $15.

                    another thing to know about this place is that they offer complimentary parking for weekday lunches. (although it is still valet and so i still tip).
                    this means that during the week, you can go there and order a truffle pizza at the bar area for about the same price that a 'regular' lunch would cost at a much lesser restaurant. the small truffle pizza costs $9.
                    very hard to beat the price/quality ratios of these deals.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      OMFG - you are a SAINT!!!

                      Thank you so much for the insider tips, I go to MDR regularly, every couple of weeks or so, and now I would order that salad regularly, those itty-bitty whole wild mushrooms were so freakin' amazing, I could not thank you enough, just to satisfy that craving now, every once in a while.

                      And I would be thrilled to eat in that bar, on a Sunday or any other day. for that matter. Esp, since I end up dining lunch alone a lot, since many friends I have are either at work, or their tennis lessons ( yawn) I wouldn't feel self-conscious eating there by myself. And that's so nice to know they won't charge you for parking, great, since parking in that area is expensive, but of course I would tip them, always do, those poor people need to make a living, too.

                      And b/c of you, I searched out Antica Pizzeria (which is a bitch to find, btw) and was thrilled with my Margherita pizza and eggplant parm, they were both excellent, I can't wait to go back and actually sit there and enjoy them with some good vino. Thanks again for your insight, always appreciated here.

                      1. re: Phurstluv

                        the truffle pizza (two sizes) is available all the time.
                        the asparagus salad, just available sundays until 2:30pm.

                        this place is the bomb!
                        if you go in the evenings (like i did tonight) and you need to pay the valet charge, the parking attendants give you a little bag of pastry to ease the pain.
                        of course, the pastry was consumed before i pulled into my driveway. . . .

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Oh no, only Sundays, <sound of heart breaking>!! Well, like I said I'll have another chance for brunch in a few weeks.

                          But I could get into the truffle pizza at the bar with a nice glass of Pinot time I'm there!

          2. I would consider Joe's in Venice on Abbott Kinney or The Lobster in Santa Monica. They are what I think of when I hear you say "California".

            3 Replies
            1. re: smfoodie

              I looked into Joe's when I was planning my mother's 80th for 17 people. We either had to rent out the entire patio or our group would be seated at two separate tables inside the main dining room. Though we could have had a choice of three entrees, the cost was significantly higher than what appeared on the regular menu due to the size of the group. Fraiche, on the other hand, lowered their prices for us and set up a private room! I'm not sure how I would describe Fraiche's menu - maybe French and Italian with a California influence.

              1. re: whatsfordinner

                Yea, it's pretty small. That was a smart move on Fraiche's part.

                The Lobster, although got a nice new review from SIV, still think of it as a tourist trap, and can be hit or miss on food.

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  although i enjoy the Lobster, the op asked for a place that is not expensive, and i've never gotten out of the Lobster without dropping a lot of money.
                  a party of 20 people could really rack up a tab at the lobster.. .