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Jul 30, 2010 09:38 AM

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

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...


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

    2 Replies
    1. re: Obessed

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

      1. re: Obessed

        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. 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:

        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

          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

            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.

            8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

            1. re: LATrapp

              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 ( ) 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

                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.

                8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                1. re: Porthos

                  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. 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

            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

              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. Spago.

              176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

              1 Reply
              1. 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.

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