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Looking for Best Overall Tasting Menu in LA / OC....

r
rezrez12 Jul 30, 2010 09:38 AM

Hi All,

My girlfriend has never experienced any sort of multiple course chef's menu anywhere and wanted me to take her for her Birthday this weekend. Does anyone have any suggestions on what is the best overall tasting menu?

I was hoping to spend about 120 per person (without alcohol), and am looking for something special.

Please let me know what you would recommended. I initially was going to take her to the Gordon Ramsey at the London, but have read mixed reviews.

I personally had one of my best meals I have ever had at the Gordon Ramsey in London.

Thank You for all your suggestions...

Rez

  1. o
    Obessed Jul 30, 2010 09:49 AM

    Best tasting menu I've consistently had in LA was at Providence.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Obessed
      r
      Robert Thornton Jul 30, 2010 10:40 AM

      I'd vote Providence as well, but have had some great ones at Melisse as well.

      1. re: Obessed
        m
        msmerymac Aug 4, 2010 01:44 PM

        I agree with this. I believe the 5 course menu is around $90 before alcohol. Personally I have not had a good experience at Melisse, though.

      2. a
        albatruffles Jul 30, 2010 11:32 AM

        rezrez12,

        Thank god you came to chowhound, Gordon Ramsey, you've got to be kidding me. I'd rather get a tasting menu at Oki Dog. GR at the London is far different than GR in London, I've been to both.

        Providence is going to be the majority choice, so just do that. If you want to decide between a few places I would also suggest Patina in downtown. Recently reviewed at 4 stars. Then Hatfield's in Hollywood. Lastly, Saam at The Bazaar for a unique experience. Check out the pics and links to the restaurants websites:
        http://www.kevineats.com/

        Use this website to give you a feel of what will win over your girlfriend to tasting menus.

        I found Melisse to be boring in recent years, but that may just have been my experience since I'm under 80.

        Another, albeit a bit more extravagant option, is to drive with her to Vegas where you would have a few more options at $120pp. It's all a matter of how much you love her ; )

        5 Replies
        1. re: albatruffles
          hnsbmg Jul 30, 2010 12:03 PM

          Vegas is a great choice for tasting menus (but skip the theoretical food at Joël Robuchon and go for the outstanding tasting at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, which is great in spite of the hype).

          Closer to home, I'd consider the tasting menus at Water Grill (excellent fish and seafood, steak [sic], and desserts) and XIV (I haven't had their tasting menu, but I very much like Mina's tastings at his other restaurants in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Orange County -- upgraded American classics that are delicious, not precious). Be careful about restaurants merely willing to throw together a tasting for you. In my experience, that can lead to fuzzy culinary thinking with pointlessly duplicated tastes and textures. (Of course, the same thing can happen even when the multi-course meal is planned in advance.)

          1. re: hnsbmg
            LATrapp Jul 31, 2010 12:28 PM

            I was just at XIV about a week ago and was very disappointed in their tasting menu. We had the middle sized (I think about 10 courses, the large is 14 courses).

            We were very impressed with the flatbread and yogurt dip to begin with and it unfortunately went downhill from there. Including one of the most subpar cobb salads I've ever had. Also, we tried to slow them down but the dishes kept arriving on top of each other.

            They mentioned that they were moving away from their smaller tasting menus and were going to revamp the menu into a more conventional appetizer-entree-dessert format. But as it is, it's a very unremarkable tasting menu experience. It really takes away some of the magic of a tasting menu when you see the same dishes going out to the entire restaurant all night long. Nothing is special especially to the servers who are plunking down the same small bite for the 100th time that night.

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            XIV
            8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

            1. re: LATrapp
              hnsbmg Jul 31, 2010 03:07 PM

              LATrapp, I shouldn't have recommended a place that (as noted) I haven't tried just because the owner's other restaurants are excellent. In the last year, I must have had Mina's tastings three or four times at Stonehill Tavern and in Vegas, and none of them resembled your sad experience at XIV. After reading your report, I looked up the old S. Irene Virbila review ( http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/... ) and remembered that she had not liked XIV either, something that I probably supressed because I enjoy Michael Mina's other ventures so much and because I may have thought that Virbila was merely upset over the name (XIV instead of SIV ;-).

              I'm sorry to hear about this misstep by a gifted chef and restauranteur, but thanks for your cautionary report.

              1. re: hnsbmg
                Porthos Jul 31, 2010 04:45 PM

                I wouldn't limit Mina's disappointments to XIV. I was disappointed by both XIV (x2) and Michael Mina in SF.

                LATrapp mentioned that the most impressive part about XIV was the naan. I completely agree. However, it should be noted that it's just very good naan and not superior to any other well made naan in a good indian restaurant.

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                XIV
                8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                1. re: Porthos
                  hnsbmg Jul 31, 2010 05:16 PM

                  I really like Mina's rich-uncle osetra caviar and alderwood-smoked-salmon parfait, the incredibly juicy, medium-rare roast duck, the fragrant and tender cioppino (no dryish seafood), the perfectly cooked "crispy-skin bass," and the root-beer float with sassafras ice cream and warm chocolate-chip cookies, among other items on the various menus I've tried in the Bay Area, at Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point, and in Las Vegas.

        2. j
          Jwsel Jul 30, 2010 12:01 PM

          Melisse has bar none the best tasting menu I've had in recent years. For $120 per person, you can get the 4-course tasting menu or the anniversary menu. I like the 4-course, because you can pick and choose from a lot of items and can supplement with items from the regular menu.

          I disagree that Melisse's food is boring. While the cooking style and influences are classically French, they do great things with local ingredients and are not adverse to using modern cooking techniques -- the truffle egg is sous vide at low temperature for 45 minutes, one of the amuse bouche I had the last time used molecular gastronomy to reform a tomato around goat cheese.

          Given a choice between Providence and Melisse, I would choose Melisse every time. I loved Cimarusti's food at Water Grill, but have yet to have a meal at Providence that wowed me.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jwsel
            f
            foodiemahoodie Aug 2, 2010 12:16 AM

            When's the last time you went to Providence? I still put Melisse ahead of Providence, Providence has been slowly, carefully and methodically improving. They went from very good to pretty much sensational now. I usually get the bigger of the two chef's tasting menus.

            BTW - a little know fact and something I look forward to exploiting. They have a GREAT pastry/dessert chef at Providence and have a 7 course dessert tasting menu. What a fantastic romantic idea - to take someone who loves sweets there for a late night 7 course dessert menu.

            1. re: Jwsel
              m
              msmerymac Aug 4, 2010 01:46 PM

              To me, both the food AND service were outstanding at Providence. The service at Melisse was subpar at best. My gnocci was also so salty I had trouble eating it.

            2. wienermobile Jul 30, 2010 12:08 PM

              Spago.
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/691532

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              Spago
              176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

              1 Reply
              1. re: wienermobile
                peppermonkey Aug 2, 2010 09:45 PM

                spago

              2. OCAnn Jul 30, 2010 12:48 PM

                For OC, I'd go with Napa Rose's Chef's Counter.

                FWIW, I don't get out to LA much these days and am planning to do my own bday tasting menu @ Providence.

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                Napa Rose Restaurant
                1600 S Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

                1. r
                  rezrez12 Jul 30, 2010 04:32 PM

                  Thank you for all your wonderful suggestions!

                  Unfortunately, I'm pretty late making reservations. So the only place that seems to be available on Saturday evening is XIV, through the American Express reservations thing.

                  I'm going to offer to take her there on Sat or Providence on Sunday and see which she prefers.

                  Vegas is a good idea, but not part of this weekends plans. Saam @ the bazar seems like lots of fun, but they too are booked.

                  That's what happens when I decide to do something last minute. Lesson Learned!

                  What do you guys think of XIV?

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                  XIV
                  8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rezrez12
                    p
                    pointone Jul 31, 2010 09:42 AM

                    I've done tasting menus at XIV twice and the food was solid. Generally well executed. Instead of bread to munch on you get naan with a yogurt-like sauce. They have interesting cheese presentations. They just unveiled a new summer menu.

                    XIV and Saam/Bazaar skew towards the younger/scenier/tourist scene. Providence and Melisse are more restrained in terms of their decor and ambience. Hatfields is sort of in between. But I am in agreement with the majority of the posters on this thread in that my favorite tasting menu experience in the city is Providence.

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                    XIV
                    8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                  2. n
                    New Trial Jul 31, 2010 04:12 PM

                    The tasting menus at Ortolan are also well worth consideration.

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                    Ortolan
                    8338 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: New Trial
                      m
                      miwine Jul 31, 2010 06:14 PM

                      Ortolan is a great choice. I think the best (and under the radar) tasting menu is at Bashan.

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                      Bashan
                      3459 N Verdugo Rd, Glendale, CA 91208

                      1. re: miwine
                        mr mouther Jan 6, 2013 10:55 AM

                        I love Bashan too, but is the tasting menu you are referring to the $40 prix fixe tasting special (pick three courses, etc.)? I know they prepare more tasting menu like fare for holidays, but wondered if they did actual tasting menus.

                    2. m
                      msmd310 Aug 3, 2010 11:42 AM

                      Had Providence BIG tasting menu (14 courses) for my anniversary 6 months ago- I still remember most of the dishes, can't imagine that I could eat FOUR desserts, had great service, pacing, tour of the kitchen...........

                      I would do it again in a HEARTBEAT- please give the hint to my husband.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: msmd310
                        OCAnn Aug 3, 2010 08:23 PM

                        My reservation for Providence is coming up, and I'm curious, was the full Chef's menu too much food? I'm leaning towards the full tasting. Your thoughts? Did you have the flights as well?

                        1. re: OCAnn
                          Porthos Aug 3, 2010 10:09 PM

                          Go all out. Do the Chef's Tasting. I've had the 5 course tasting with a la carte supplements, a la carte alone, and the Chef''s tasting. Each visit was excellent but the Chef's Tasting gives you the top experience the kitchen can offer. Yes, it's a lot of food.

                          1. re: Porthos
                            OCAnn Aug 4, 2010 09:25 AM

                            Thank you for the advice! =D

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