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Tasting menu for birthday dinner

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Hi - it is my 35th birthday coming up and I want to have a great dining experience that includes a tasting menu with wine pairing. I thought about Melisse but a fun and lively atmosphere is important to me and it sounds like it might be a bit too formal after reading other posts. Providence is sounding great but it's a long trek for us. Any other recommendations/thoughts? I live in Mar Vista near Marina del Rey.
Thanks!

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  1. Why not something like Saam at the Bazaar http://www.thebazaar.com/ - close enough and it ought to be lively.

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    The Bazaar by José Andrés
    465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      Tasting menu and "fun and lively" sounds like an oxymoron.
      Celebrate your birthday in an atmosphere you enjoy and eat the food you enjoy. Eschew the "tasting menu."
      Anthony Bourdain, in his new book, "Medium Raw" has some pithy comments about tasting menus. BTW: The book is a must read for anyone interested in food.

    2. agree with bazaar for bday. the space is lively and it's a fun place. i found the food underwhelming -- but i am v. glad i went and it was fun..

      http://www.piccolovenice.com/ is local to you -- extremely delicious, and lively. they have a tasting menu for about $80 or so a person as i recall. the staff here is great and the food is amazing.

      i like spago too. it's an old standby, but i find it lively, innovative, and always outstanding.

      i also had a really fun experience at michael's in santa monica. great food, and really great service. we made a party out of a normal night and the staff and service was super great on a rainy night. i think they do tastings -- but if not the regular food is good plus/great.

      1. just ate last nite at orris on sawtelle. the "during the week" tastin gmenu was awesome and so reasonable...i think 25/person w/o wine but they have wine suggestions and so many wines by the glass
        the carpaccio and the apple tarte tartin with ice cream and caramel sauce was incredible (actually EVERYTHING) was delicious as usual. they have the outdoor heated patio that would be a great spot to "take over"

        1 Reply
        1. re: 1900Therese

          Thanks so much for the suggestions. Piccolo sounds great. I loved that place when it was 5 Dudley and have been meaning to try Piccolo. I've always wanted to try Orris too so I'll look into that as well - maybe if it ends up being a larger group. Both sound amazing. And so does The Bazaar. I might have to do a couple of dinners!

        2. I guess I'm not sure what you mean by "fun and lively." Melisse is formal in the sense that it has nice tableclothes, high-end wines, and service is very French, i.e., a lot of servers, attention to detail, every dish for the table is brought at the same time. There is no music and the room is not so loud that you struggle to hear your dining companions. But I don't think it is any less lively than Providence or Spago. The waiters are in suits, but diners wear all sorts of clothing. Most men seem to wear slacks and button-down shirts that would seem appropriate for business casual at my office.

          The last time we were at Melisse, Chef Citrin came to the tables and we had great conversations with him. Diners at both our table and the one next to ours were going to Paris within a few weeks of the meal, so we had a fantastic conversation about Parisien restaurants.

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          Spago
          176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

          1. I did SAAM's for my birthday last year and it was awesome.
            Dinner was a fri at 8 arrived early and had a drink in bar centro which was nice and watched people arrive then on to dinner.
            After dinner walked out and Bar Centro was a Zoo.
            Bazzaar has a tasting menu I believe it's more lively then SAAM's