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Anniversary dinner in West LA or Santa Monica

Hi we live on the west side now and I want to take my wife somewhere special for our anniversary this Friday. I hope the board can suggest someplace that we haven't tried before. Our budget is up to $200, and we would prefer Continental European or North American cuisine (although standout restaurants from any part of the world would be welcome). In the past we have enjoyed our anniversary at Bouchon, Mozza, Providence, and had a huge disappointment at Spago. Other places we enjoy include Gjelina (no way we could get reservations at this late date), Jiraffe, The Little Door, and the Hungry Cat. No steakhouses, please, as my wife does not eat red meat.

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  1. I highly recommend both Fig
    http://figsantamonica.com/

    and Rustic Canyon. Both in Santa Monica and both have great non red meat items and wonderful food.
    http://www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com/

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    Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
    1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

    Fig
    100 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

    3 Replies
    1. re: wienermobile

      haven't tried rustic canyon, but i absolutely ADORE Fig.

      1. re: westsidegal

        Rustic Canyon is known to be very loud.

        I'll throw in Craft, Wilshire, and Chinois on Main. Also, maybe Orris on Sawtelle.

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        Chinois
        2709 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405

        1. re: nosh

          Rustic Canyon starts getting loud after 8pm. Sound is at an enjoyable level before that.

    2. All good choices. Tasting Kitchen is good too. Slightly downscale from there (and maybe not luxurious enough, but a bargain is Waterloo & City. Last time I was there I had an amazingly good meal - and amazing portions too. Josies, Il Grano.

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      Il Grano Restaurant
      11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

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

      4 Replies
      1. re: foodiemahoodie

        I'll second the rec for Josie Restaurant; outstanding food!

        I'm not a fan of Il Grano; had a terrible experience there a few years ago. I'm tempted to try it again, but with so many restaurants to try, it's not high on the list.

        My wife and I are going to Sotto for our anniversary dinner next week.

        Also, a BIG fan of FIG.

        1. re: vinosnob

          I've had mixed experiences at Il Grano too - but mostly very good experiences. But I understand if you haven't been knocked out. The last few were very good.

          Sotto I had one lunch and it was disappointing. I need to hear from people I know and trust that it is worth going back. Specifically I had the brick chicken - and it had a weird chemical taste to it I couldn't identify. Roasted kale, artichokes, farro And I didn't like it. Could it be roasted kale? I don't know. The apps - octopus and meatballs (no, not together) which I had high expectations for - but were disappointing. Maybe I had an off night. I hate to condemn a place after one meal, but if you don't have a great experience, there's not much incentive to go back.

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          Il Grano Restaurant
          11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            Thanks for the report.

            We're mostly going to try the Neapolitan pizza; that is their reason for being. However, it takes years to work out the kinks of a new pizza oven, so I'm going in with realistic expectations.

            I also like the focus on somewhat obscure, Southern Italian dishes.

            Hopefully, our entire experience fairs better. I do happen to know the wine director and one of the bartenders, but I'll still tell it like it is if the food is off.

        2. re: foodiemahoodie

          respectfully disagree with the Il Grano recommendaton.

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          Il Grano Restaurant
          11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

        3. OP here, thanks for the ideas. We're going with Josie, I've heard about it a number of times and it's always been on my "to try" list. I'm definitely intrigued by a number of other place mentioned here. We will definitely check out Craft and Wilshire, and Orris looks really interesting. I should have mentioned we love Waterloo and City, the roast chicken for two is wonderful. I'm interested that everyone here loves FIG. We went to the Fairmont more than a year ago and had dinner with a party in a cabana out by the pool. The atmosphere was more like a frat party than anything else, and I couldn't say I even remembered the food. Is this the same place? If so I am surprised I had such a different experience from everyone else.

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          Waterloo and City
          12517 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

          7 Replies
          1. re: moose73

            Good choice! Their venison is delicious.

            1. re: whatsfordinner

              Josie's father had a restaurant in the Valley called Gregoires. I was pretty young back then, but I remember his roast duck with a pepper sauce. It was (at the time) the best thing I'd ever tasted. And it triggered a lifelong interest in food. He also had an amuse of quiche Lorraine - which is an amuse you will likely get at Josie's. And it's pretty great.

              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                It was actually called Chef Gregoire and the duck (partially deboned) was my favorite dish there. Simple, but the best roast duck I've had not counting Chinese restaurant preparations. I had it many times. His son was our normal waiter and he was one of the funniest waiters (great service too) I've ever had.

                1. re: Servorg

                  Chef Gregoire! Great memory Servorg!

                  BTW - I think Josie will do that dish for you.

                2. re: foodiemahoodie

                  I love the quiche amuse! You can order a whole quiche and/or get the recipe from their website.

                  1. re: whatsfordinner

                    The last two Thanksgivings I've gotten one of their chocolate bread puddings and one of their sticky toffee pumpkin cakes to take to my sister and bro 'n laws house for dessert offerings. Both are excellent.

              2. re: moose73

                I know, I know, short-ribs are on EVERY menu in town; it bugs me too. BUT, Josie's version is truly a standout if you dig Moroccan flavors.

                There's also a seppia appetizer that is incredible and the chocolate bread pudding is simply divine.