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SAAM and what else?

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deepfry7 May 29, 2011 10:53 AM

I'll be going to LA (my first time) next month and already have reservations to go to SAAM with a couple of friends.

I want try out another top fine dining place, but probably will be dining alone. What else should I consider? It seems like Providence, Melisse, or Patina are contenders. Currently, I booked Providence and would do the full chef's tasting menu. And if I go on a Monday, there's no corkage fee.

Patina wasn't really only my radar, but it did just recently get 4 stars from LA times last year. But the Yelp aggregate reviews (i.e. ratio of 5 stars compared to 4 stars) don't stand up to that of Providence or Melisse. Spago?

FYI, I'm from and live in NYC, so I wouldn't go to say, Craft.

Thanks LA Hounds!

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Spago
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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  1. Kitchen Queen RE: deepfry7 May 29, 2011 11:17 AM

    Check out Saddle Peak Lodge. Located in the canyon/hillsides of Calabasas/Malibu (NO ocean view). Lovely environment. Unique for its game meats.

    Also, very popular is Animal. Across the street from Animal is The Golden State. Fab burgers. I love the BLT. Ice Cream @ The Golden State very special. Both in the Fairfax area.
    www.animalrestaurant.com

    Enjoy your visit.

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

    The Golden State
    426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

    1. ipsedixit RE: deepfry7 May 29, 2011 11:52 AM

      Animal is a place to consider.

      Can't go wrong with Saddle Peak Lodge, as mentioned above, either.

      I like Patina very much, as well as Providence, Melisse and Spago. Can't go wrong with any of those.

      Other places to consider:

      - The Royce
      - Red Medicine
      - Cut
      - Hatfields
      - Urasawa
      - Kiyokawa
      - Totoraku

      I wouldn't put too much credence in Yelp reviews. Use Yelp for what it's good for, locating a restaurant's address and telephone number quickly.

      1. s
        sdv231 RE: deepfry7 May 29, 2011 12:29 PM

        fwiw.........My wife and I, celebrating her birthday, ate at Saam last night.......service, food and drinks were all as I hoped they would be. In a word, WONDERFUL

        1. f
          FranklinJefferson RE: deepfry7 May 30, 2011 10:11 AM

          Think all the suggestions so far are great (especially The Royce and Hatfields 2.0) but since you're saying that you're from NYC, "so I wouldn't go to say, Craft", why not try something a little more SoCal in character? Patina, Providence, Spago and Melisse are all very much in the mold of Jean-George's or Eric Ripert's or Daniel Boulud's restos.

          Have you considered Lucques?

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          Lucques
          8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

          8 Replies
          1. re: FranklinJefferson
            b
            bulavinaka RE: FranklinJefferson May 30, 2011 10:56 AM

            I wonder if Rivera or Playa might interest the OP?

            1. re: bulavinaka
              d
              deepfry7 RE: bulavinaka May 30, 2011 01:23 PM

              Thanks for all the great recs/advice. I was thinking some local "flavor" for lunch like all the great Mexican spots, maybe Chinatown or Korean food. 2 of the 4 nights I'm there are pretty much "play it by ear", so if some of these SoCal flavor places don't take reservations or have last minute openings and my friends and I happen to be in the area, I'd definitely try them.

              So the other 2 nights, one is definitely SAAM and I'm deciding on the last dinner. My feeling is that I want to try "the best" of fine dining LA - specific cuisine not as important.

              I thought Wolfgang Puck was one of the grandfathers of California cuisine. Just curious - what makes these other spots more SoCal than say, Spago?

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              Spago
              176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

              1. re: deepfry7
                f
                FranklinJefferson RE: deepfry7 May 30, 2011 02:05 PM

                "I thought Wolfgang Puck was one of the grandfathers of California cuisine".

                At one time (early '80's, he certainly was), but I think time, and corporatization, has made for a less unique cuisine.

                Suzanne Goin - Lucques - (the Alice Waters of Southern California IMHO) and Jon Sedlar - Rivera and Playa - have carved their individual niches by utilizing what's unique to the local climate and "terroir". While you may find the ingredients they use applied in many other locations throughout the country, if not the world, their particular application and technique make them quintessentially Los Angelean.

                Having said that, there are numerous other restaurants that might fly under the radar which are also distinctly L.A. in nature, Mo-Chica comes to mind immediately. Remember, L.A. is a more casual environment so what is considered High End in NYC is certainly special occasion food here, but not necessarily the most unique, special, or indicative of the native cuisine.

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                Lucques
                8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                Mo-Chica
                3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                1. re: deepfry7
                  goodhealthgourmet RE: deepfry7 May 30, 2011 02:24 PM

                  don't miss Mariscos Chente - you can't get Mexican seafood like that in NY. be sure to go to the *Inglewood location* (i've included a place link)...and according to our resident expert westsidegal, the guy you definitely want preparing your food - Sergio - is off Tuesdays & Wednesdays so try not to go then :)

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                  Mariscos Chente
                  10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                    d
                    deepfry7 RE: goodhealthgourmet May 30, 2011 03:03 PM

                    Awesome - a mile from the airport. Maybe I'll hit that up for lunch after I land just around noon. I'm doing Friday to Tuesday, so that works fine.

                    Why does the restaurant website (and Yelp) only list this address?
                    http://mariscoschente.com/Home.html
                    4532 South Centinela Ave

                    And not the address you pointed towards:
                    10020 Inglewood Ave, Inglewood, CA

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                    Centinela Cafe
                    4800 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                    1. re: deepfry7
                      goodhealthgourmet RE: deepfry7 May 30, 2011 03:18 PM

                      it's a long story involving family drama :)

                      http://www.streetgourmetla.com/2010/0...

                      http://www.chow.com/digest/44926/ch-c...

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                        d
                        deepfry7 RE: goodhealthgourmet May 30, 2011 05:09 PM

                        Thanks for all the info! It's now added to my itinerary. The pictures in the first link are fantastic.

                        Any staples that are a must try, in your opinion? I'll run a search later as well.

                  2. re: deepfry7
                    Ciao Bob RE: deepfry7 Jun 7, 2011 08:30 AM

                    Spago remains the epitome of LA/SoCal cuisine and fine dining. If you have never been, don't miss it. I love many of the other places listed here as much, or more, but always take my first-time visitors who love food to Spago.

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                    Spago
                    176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

              2. d
                deepfry7 RE: deepfry7 May 30, 2011 01:30 PM

                Darn. Michael Voltaggio's restaurant isn't scheduled to open until July. I read June a month or so back.

                http://www.zagat.com/buzz/michael-vol...

                1. f
                  foodiemahoodie RE: deepfry7 May 30, 2011 03:29 PM

                  Melisse and Providence over Patina. The Yelp reviews reflect experience pre-Tony Esnault and shouldn't be considered. I've been there once and would have to say I prefer Melisse and Providence.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodiemahoodie
                    d
                    deepfry7 RE: foodiemahoodie May 30, 2011 05:04 PM

                    Thanks. Makes total sense. Wanted to try Chef Esnault's food at an Alaine Ducasse restaurant in NYC (cooked at both Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, which closed, and then Adour), but it never happened.

                  2. d
                    deepfry7 RE: deepfry7 Jun 6, 2011 10:35 PM

                    I've always was curious about this, but I figure I now ask.

                    I'll be dining at both SAAM in LA and é by José Andrés in Vegas towards the end of the month and wanted to know how similar the food is to the "best" restaurant, El Bulli, which I unfortunately will never experience. I know Chef Andrés trained under Ferran Adria at El Bulli many, many years ago. But for example, Grant Achatz worked several years at TFL, but his cuisine and Thomas Keller's are nothing alike.

                    Ideally, I'd like feedback from CHers who've dined at El Bulli (say within the last 5 years) and SAAM. I'll post the same question with é instead on the Vegas board.

                    Thanks.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: deepfry7
                      honkman RE: deepfry7 Jun 6, 2011 11:57 PM

                      We haven't dined at El Bulli but have seen many posts and pictures about different meals there. We very recently had a fantastic dinner at Saam and enojoyed it very much but there are only "hints" of similarity of what you would get at El Bulli. Chef Andres has developed his own style which is quite different from El Bulli.

                    2. t
                      TailbackU RE: deepfry7 Jun 7, 2011 11:31 AM

                      Just for full disclosure, if you go to Providence on a Monday night, while they do waive the corkage fee, Michael Cimarusti won't be in the kitchen cooking that night. Sundays and Mondays are his days off.

                      Having said that, I've eaten at Providence both when he was behind the kitchen and not, and always a fantastic meal.

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