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Need recommendation for special occasion

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I am looking for a restaurant for a special occasion. Price is not an issue but there are some requirements:

1. No sushi
2. I would rather it not have a demanding dress-code (ie. jacket, tie, etc)
3. I would like the service to be personable and not overly snooty/stuck-up
4. I would like it to be on the quieter side (can have normal conversation) but does not have to be romantic
5. The food should be exceptional

Are there any places where you can have a great, high(er) end meal in a more relaxed atmosphere with excellent, warm, and personable service?

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  1. Take a look at Saddle Peak Lodge. I think it may what you are looking for.
    http://www.saddlepeaklodge.com/

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: wienermobile

      Saddle Peak Lodge actually has a dress code. Just a FYI. http://www.saddlepeaklodge.com/contac...

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Saddle Peak Lodge:
        Our dress code is business casual.
        Blue jean friendly.
        Jacket and ties are NOT required.
        Please NO shorts, No beachwear and NO muscle shirts.
        Ok it has a little bit of a dress code but worth it for their Elk.

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

    2. Bastide
      Ortolan
      Animal

      (in order of "fancy" degrees, though I am unaware of any place w/dress codes here in LA.)

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      Bastide Restaurant
      8475 Melrose Place, West Hollywood, CA 90069

      10 Replies
      1. re: Phurstluv

        Big second for Bastide. It has a great balance of elegance and friendliness. Excellent food, and could be the best wine list in LA all things considered.
        (Phurstluv, I remember Hotel Bel Air used to have a dress code, not sure if that will continue)

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        Bastide Restaurant
        8475 Melrose Place, West Hollywood, CA 90069

        1. re: cls

          Good to know Bastide is still a great option, been closed & reopened (again?) since we went. But the food was unparalleled.

          I know there are some dress codes out there, but I think the days of strict jacket & tie requirements are gone, at least in casual, sunny LA. Like that is FLA too.

        2. re: Phurstluv

          As much as I love Animal I wouldn't call it on the quieter side

          1. re: honkman

            We have never found it to be "loud" when we have dined there.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              I believe you must have eaten at animal a whole lot, phurstluv, because animal is not loud at all.....IT'S POSITIVELY DEAFENING!

              1. re: Ciao Bob

                I really don't find it deafening. And I am sensitive to that issue being pretty hard of hearing in those types of settings.

                1. re: Ciao Bob

                  WHAT'D YA SAY???

                  No really, I've been there when it was full, (when isn't it) and we never had that experience, and have always been able to carry on a conversation with our table, the waitstaff, etc. Now, would I call it Whisper Quiet? No, it's a small room, it's always full and there are no soft surfaces at all to help absorb the din. We also tend to go on the earlier side, whenever we can get a reservation, like 6, 7 or 8 ish. I bet if you walk in at 10, and with a full restaurant who is completely enjoying their wine, beer and food, then yes, I would assume it can get a bit noisy.

                  But I rec'd it because I felt it met about all of the criteria the OP was looking for: no sushi, no dresscode, personable service & EXCEPTIONAL food. In my mind, the quiet factor is a non issue when the resto meets and exceeds the rest of OP's criteria.

                  So go ahead and doubt my cred if you must, I really don't care and stand by my recommendation.

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    I HEAR you, phurstluv :)
                    I wasn't doubting any cred just having fun.
                    And your point about the time one goes to dine and the noise level is likely accurate, as well as one's own sensitivity to sound, as honkman (perfect moniker for this discussion, btw) points out. I generally eat at animal at its busiest and loudest, and it does not bother me - but I have been with many who complained (loudly).

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Loud? What?!! You want loud?!! Comme Ca!

                  2. re: Phurstluv

                    We never found it too loud (but perhaps we have a higher tolerance for noise than many others because we also found Pizzeria Mozza not too loud for nice dinner with great conversation even though many people complain about it) but since the OP mentioned something on the quiter side and many people also complain about the noise at Animal I think it is worth taking into consideration when making a decision for the OP.

              2. Melisse or Valentino.

                I would also suggest Hatfield's, but have no idea what their new digs are like, acoustically.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  My 2c, I find Valentino pretty stuffy by LA standards.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I was EXTREMELY pleasantly surprised that the new Hatfield's has very good acoustics and it is easy to have a conversation there. Unlike so many other places (looking at you, Louie), they put up cork paneling on the ceiling, apparently deciding that it was worth sacrificing a tiny bit of aesthetics in order to allow their clientele to actually be able to hear each other speak. Bravo.

                    1. re: aching

                      Good to know, aching, thanks. Can't wait to revisit them in their new space.

                      1. re: Phurstluv

                        It was really nice - although I was fond of the old space too. But their seating capacity looks to have quadrupled, and the Croque Madame did not suffer a bit in the move!

                  2. I like Fraiche in Culver City for this. It's not the *highest* end restaurant, but it should meet your needs.

                    1. Josie

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                      Josie
                      2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Servorg

                        I love Josie, always have. Doesn't scream "special occasion" to me tho. Just my 2 cents.

                      2. Thanks, just to clarify on the dress code. I am not planning on t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. I would like to wear a dress shirt/jeans or button down shirt/slacks and not feel out of place among suits and ties.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Scott M

                          Lucques would seem to describe what you are looking for.

                          -----
                          Lucques
                          8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                          1. re: maudies5

                            I agree with Lucques and Josie. In fact, LA may be the best city for high end dining in a relaxed atmosphere.

                            -----
                            Lucques
                            8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                            1. re: cls

                              Miami's pretty high up there, too, friend!

                        2. In addition to some of the other recommendations here, I would have recommended Craft, but I haven't been in over a year, and I've heard that it has gone downhill since then - is that true?

                          You could also consider Providence, Water Grill, WP24 (although I haven't been there, so I can't speak to the noise level), and AOC (but ask to be seated on the patio - the main dining room is very loud).

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

                          Water Grill
                          544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                          WP24
                          900 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: aching

                            I would add that (by LA standards) Providence, Water Grill, and WP24 are about as "snooty" as they get.
                            Also consider Osteria Mozza, Angelini, and La Buca.

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                            La Buca
                            5210 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                            Water Grill
                            544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                            Osteria Mozza
                            6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                            WP24
                            900 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                            1. re: cls

                              Do you think? I've found the service at both Providence and Water Grill to be very pleasant. Can't speak to WP24. I did, however, find Osteria Mozza to be quite loud...

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

                              Osteria Mozza
                              6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                              WP24
                              900 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                              1. re: aching

                                Ah, true on the Mozza loud. Might want to scratch Angelini and La Buca then too.

                                I like Providence and Water Grill, but consider the service to be on the uptight end of the LA spectrum.

                                -----
                                La Buca
                                5210 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                                Water Grill
                                544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                          2. Providence
                            Bistro LQ
                            Hatfield's
                            Jiraffe

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                            Jiraffe Restaurant
                            502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

                            Bistro LQ
                            8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: nelehelen

                              Your top three are also my recommendations for exceptional food, non stuffy service and not too loud

                            2. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I am currently leaning toward Melisse. It looks to have the best menu options to my taste. I am still a little concerned that I would be the only one to show in jeans.

                              I also considered Spago but it looks like some really like it and other not so much. Also it looks like the tasting menu is the only way to go. Any thoughts between Spago and Melisse? Is Spago just a touristy shell of itself from the 80s?

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                              Spago
                              176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Scott M

                                No. The Spago tasting menu is still wonderful (at least the last time I had it, which was probably 6 or 7 months ago).

                                The problem with Spago, at least for you, is that the din in the dining room can be quite deafening.

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

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  The patio would be nice right now, (and I don't even find the main room all that noisy).

                                2. re: Scott M

                                  Melisse is not my favorite, but many others on the board love it and if the menu looks good to you, then I don't think you could go wrong there. I also think you'll be completely comfortable there in jeans and a button down.

                                  I also think (aside from the noise) that Spago would be a great option.

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

                                  1. re: mollyomormon

                                    A couple of more questions regarding Spago. I noticed it is open everyday of the week for dinner. Are some days more quiet or it is always quite loud? Also, is the tasting menu offered everyday or only certain days? A sample tasting menu is not available on the website, so information on it is limited.

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

                                    1. re: Scott M

                                      You have to call ahead for the Spago Tasting Menu. It changes, and can be tailored to fit your preferences.

                                      I think generally Fri-Sun are probably the most boisterous at Spago. But like Servorg suggested, the patio might be a good option, esp. in this weather.

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

                                3. Providence Chef's table is another idea....quiet, relaxed, delicious, friendly. I just did it and LOVED it!

                                  1. Agree with Saddle Peak, Providence and Hatfield's, they all have great food and atmosphere. When Hatfield's relocated they bucked the industry's status quo seating and sat couples in the private booths (conducive intimacy) and large parties at tables (good for conversation) and the acoustics are fantastic. I used to love Lucques but I feel that the quality is no longer there (still can be good but is no longer great), I find Josie's disappointing and Fraiche is the P.F. Changs of fake brasserie style. Lastly, my favorite restaurants are Mozza and Animal, but yes they can be loud.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: rkmla

                                      Totally agree with your assessment of Lucques, quality has left a long time ago.

                                      1. re: maudies5

                                        I don't care who eats at which restaurant. Only the quality of food matters and compared to Animal, Mozza, Bistro LQ, Providence, Hatfields the quality of food at Lucques is not even remotely on the same level. I am particular disappointed with some of the Sunday Suppers which were simply foodwise boring and badly executed with below average service.

                                        1. re: honkman

                                          I just find it amusing that one would question the quality of the food at Lucques. I can understand not caring for certain dishes or the preparation. However, Suzanne Goin never compromises on the quality of her food. Every ingredient is first rate. I'm not suggesting you have to love everything the kitchen turns out, but be respectful of the quality of the ingredients. Suzanne buys only the best ingredients from the best purveyors.

                                          -----
                                          Lucques
                                          8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                                          1. re: maudies5

                                            The quality of food in a restaurant is defined for me as sum of the quality of the ingredients, execution in the kitchen and creativity (especially in higher end restaurants). I don't dispute that the quality of the ingredients at Lucques. Unfortunately on several visits to Lucques (regular evenings and Sunday Suppers) the execution of the dishes was disappointing and lacked creativity. In addition, the service wasn't on the level you expect at such a restaurant.