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Help please!

A friend of mine (not a foodie) is planning a special dinner for a friend (who IS a foodie) who is coming to Los Angeles to celebrate a big birthday. He used to live here, and wants an L.A. experience--with very good food and a fun vibe. He keeps mentioning Michael Mina XIV to her (I guess he's read about it)....but it's my impression is that it's gone downhill. (I was there when it first opened.)
She wants me to recommend some places--I'm leaning toward Bazaar, Rivera or Playa....for scene and food.
Obviously, if it was just great food in an elegant atmosphere, I'd suggest Providence, Melisse or
Spago. (I'm guessing he's been to Spago.)
I don't think price or location is a concern.
What am I missing?
Thanks for your help.

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Spago
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

XIV
8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

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  1. FYI: 5 course chef's tasting menu is $70 at Providence only for the month of June to celebrate their 6th anniversary.

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    Providence
    5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

    1. I would suggest either Saam (at the Bazaar), Urasawa, or The Royce.

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      Urasawa Restaurant
      218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I don't know much about Royce, but will "search" and check it out. Thanks.

      2. The Bazaar is a fun experience but I find the food to be lacking in soul. I would go with Melisse or Rivera.

        1 Reply
        1. re: reneannalee

          re: Bazaar - a good experience for DineLA that I would not be willing to go back and pay full price for.

        2. Couple of points. Your friend's friend keeps mentioning XIV, so maybe that's where he really wants to go.

          But if you feel like it may not be up to snuff, nice of you to come up with alternatives, since you are, after all, a true Chowhound.

          I'm just throwing this out there because you mention very good food with a fun vibe - which describes exactly the dinner we had with friends very recently at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice.

          Now, you don't mention a location preference, but maybe Venice is too out of the way for you. Or maybe you know you friend means "I want to starwatch and be entertained by the place" so maybe, it's not a good match. But if you believe an excellent meal, sublime cocktails, comfortable, chic atmosphere and conversing with good friends over a super meal is what he is looking for, then this is the place for you.

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          XIV
          8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

          Tasting Kitchen
          1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

          3 Replies
          1. re: Phurstluv

            Thanks. Good points.
            I'm questioning XIV because, from what I've heard, the impression he's gotten of the place is what was being said about it quite a while ago. If he's determined to go there, so be it. I just wanted to give my friend alternatives.
            I thought about Tasting Kitchen. I went and liked it. Found it a little loud, and don't know if this group wants to carry on a conversation since they'll be catching up. But will add it to list.

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            XIV
            8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

            Tasting Kitchen
            1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291

            1. re: perk

              We had no problem carrying on a conversation, since we were catching up too. I suggest making a relatively early reservation before the room gets full.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                Good idea. Thanks. I'll pass it on.

          2. I always love Spago and Bouchon.

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            Spago
            176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

            4 Replies
            1. re: WildSwede

              I'd forgotten about Bouchon. Thanks for the reminder!

              1. re: WildSwede

                Haven't been back to Bouchon since two February's ago. Have they improved their service and classic dishes yet? Sounds like the best place to be there is the bar w champagne and nibbles......

                1. re: WildSwede

                  was going to add Bouchon to the list as well. and Scarpetta. really like that place as well.

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                  Scarpetta
                  225 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                  1. re: Emme

                    I had really good food at Scarpetta. And the worst service I've ever had at a high end restaurant. To the restaurant's credit, they answered me immediately when I sent an e-mail the next day describing my experience. The general manager asked us to come back as his guest.s We didn't do it, but I will go back sometime....and give it another try. I loved the food.

                    But other friends of mine have had similar experiences....enough to make me wary of recommending it.

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                    Scarpetta
                    225 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210