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Sep 13, 2011 04:54 PM

Help with 1st Wedding Anniversary: Melisse, Spago, Cut, or ?

Our 1st Wedding Anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks and I'd like to have a memorable dinner.

My recent attempts to plan memorable dinners have been highly disappointing: Mastro's BH (food quality), Drago Centro (long wait for food and portion size), and Lazy Ox (underwhelemed by food and service).

I need your help!

Some thoughts:
-DH pretty much loathes smaller/tasting type portions (recent meal at Drago Centro he found ridiculous (from a price point to portion size perspective)). My #1 hesitancy on Melisse is that it will be a similar experience.
-Anniversary is on a Sunday
-DH is leaning towards sushi- which I'd be okay with - but I'd rather do something more special occasion feel (table linens vs. a sushi bar).
-We are in Pasadena but traveling to the westside is fine
-Would like to spend no more than $300 (with wine/tip, etc.), but am happy to spend less! :)

Other possible contenders (that I have no idea would fit or not): Spago (I've been, DH has not, I'd love another visit), Cut
Not interested in: Providence, Hatfields, Lucques, maybe I've just narrowed it down to Spago, Melisse, or Cut - any thoughts between these? Or somewhere else I should consider?


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  1. Sunday sucks for sushi in L.A.

    Not sure if you can get a decent meal out of CUT at under $300 for 2. Plus, I think it's not as good as Mastros.

    If tasting menus/smaller portions are not his cup of tea, then that eliminates many eateries I would have otherwise recommended.

    Maybe you can try Craft, in Century City.

    2 Replies
    1. re: J.L.

      Craft is closed Sunday nights. The Providence Tasting menu is the best meal I've had in Los Angeles, but it sounds like that's not what you are looking for. I do love the Spago patio.

      10100 Constellation Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067

      5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

      1. re: J.L.

        J.L. - out of curiosity - what other eateries would you have recommended?

      2. If you're not dead set on the ambiance and table linens, I'd recommend LQ@SK. It's the most creative, refined, and straight up tasty cuisine in LA these days IMO. At 45pp for 5 courses, this leaves you a good chunk of your budget to bring your favorite wines and room to indulge in their unrivaled cheesecart: 40 types of cheese imported from France, many unpasteurized.

        It's not your typical "anniversry ambiance" but more creative cuisine and a better deal cannot be found in LA.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Porthos

          I had a reservation for LQ@SK a few weeks back and DH was not into the menu, unfortunately. I'll need to save my LQ@SK visit for a dining opportunity without him. Plus, from seeing blog posts and reviews about it, I think the portion size/tasting menu type meal would be a turn off for him. Thanks for the suggestion, though!

          1. re: The Oracle

            In that case, Spago.

            176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

        2. Il Piccolino on Robertson just east of BH is great food (Italian), service and ambiance. Highly recomend.

          Il Piccolino
          350 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048

          2 Replies
          1. re: BSW6490

            Spago. You will never regret having celebrated your 1st Anniversary at Spago.

            176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

            1. re: maudies5

              I was thinking this same thing last night about Spago. It's classic, in my mind... the only thing is it's the beginning of Dine LA week and for some reason our anniversary night isn't available on Open Table today. I'll call them later on and see what's up.

          2. If you don't want to fight "Sunday traffic" then maybe The Royce at the Langham?

            The Royce at the Langham
            1401 S Oak Knoll Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106

            4 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              ipsedixit - I thought seriously about The Royce - I was a little concerned it might be a similar experience as Drago Centro and a tad too stiff and fussy. One of my favorite meals was at The Dining Room (when Craig Strong was there) - do you think the current chef/staff lives up to those older days?

              1. re: The Oracle

                We dined at The Royce for our anniversary this year; and we also went last year, when it was still the Dining Room and Michael Voltaggio was at the helm.

                I liked Voltaggio's menu better. It was definitely more memorable, though I had no problem with the service or execution in the current iteration. However, it's still a small plates/tasting menu concept, so it doesn't sound like the right thing for your DH.

                If DH really wants sushi, consider Drago Centro's neighbor, Chaya Downtown. They have quality sushi, but also a full menu. I've eaten there several times and it has been top notch each and every time. Pretty room, too. Oh, and on Sunday nights, they often have a very interesting sounding prix fixe menu for $25/person, and HALF PRICE bottles of wine. I'm almost positive that the prix fixe is in addition to (not instead of) the regular menu.

                Here is a link to a recent Sunday prix fixe menu.

                Drago Centro
                525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                Chaya Downtown
                525 S. Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                1. re: Jack Flash

                  Thank you for mentioning Chaya! That is a great deal and may be where we end up (we'll be in downtown in the afternoon). I think I'd still like to go to Spago... but, we'll see. :)

                  176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                  525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                2. re: The Oracle

                  I think it's better than when Strong was manning the kitchen. But that said, it might not fit your criteria.

                  If your DH wants sushi, but you don't want the "sushi bar" experience, how about Matsuhisa?

                1. re: will47

                  Am I not reading the original post correctly?

                  n/naka (not Naka) is a completely tasting menu-based restaurant. Isn't that something the OP was trying to avoid? I mean it's a great place, don't get me wrong, but let's try to cater to the OP here a bit.

                  3455 S. Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                  1. re: J.L.

                    I did read the post, and did have the same thought. But then, the OP's husband is fine with sushi, which is generally a lot of small courses too, so I thought a kaiseki style meal with a sushi course might be of interest. And, since the concern mentioned was quality of food for cost, I also don't think that will be a problem.

                    1. re: will47

                      But the kicker is that n/naka's menu is only about 50% nigiri sushi, and again, Sundays are just not great for sushi.

                      On top of that, the OP used the words "...loathes smaller/tasting type portions..." to describe her thoughts on exactly what Chef Niki would be serving.

                      Again, nothing against n/naka whatsoever (heck I'm scheduled to dine there again on my own dime later this week!). It's just that n/naka is almost the antithesis of the dining style that the OP is looking for, from a portions & pacing standpoint.

                      3455 S. Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034