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DineLA July 16-27, 2012

Where are you going? What are your favorites?


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  1. This year I'm planning a Friday lunch at Chinois. If the filet in Szechuan sauce is the same as their dinner menu, it is an outstanding dish.

    Last year I really liked the skirt steak for lunch at Gaucho Grill, Brentwood. This year they are offering some skirt steak and chicken brochettes. A couple years ago i tried the steak lunch at Bizou in Santa Monica. Disappointed. I also had a big argument with the lunch manager at Wilshire, where they changed the menu from what was offered on the website but the item (crab cake, I think) was still on the regular menu... I've had nice lunches at Ocean Avenue Seafood and Cafe Montana.

    My big complaint with this year's offerings is that most of the lunch menus have gone up a buck or two but have deleted the desserts and gone from three courses to two.

    1. Tried the Blue Stove at Nordstrom in Santa Monica. Surprisingly good. Will do a full write up later (on cell phone). Planning on trying a bunch of other places like Bouchon, Chinois, Craft, JAR, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PeterCC

        My write-up for Blue Stove is up: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/860090. Will try to get my Bouchon review done after sleep and work.

          1. re: J.L.

            Ditto...I'm done with Dine LA, which has really been going downhill the last couple years. Chinois was a joke last year, Fogo got rid of the free desert, etc...

            At most, you might be getting a free desert (of the restaurant's choosing) with these meals...not worth it for a limited menu, IMO.

            1. re: manku

              At most, you might be getting a free desert
              Someone has been running the math:

              Continue to stand by the Craft rec from previous years. They've done no wrong in the last 4 renditions of DLA. And summer time is probably the best for enjoying pastry chef S. Swindle's desserts.

              I wouldn't go to restaurants I don't want to go to, even during DineLA (ie, Lukshon/Sunny Spot), but there's nothing wrong w/ going to joints that aren't busy, that always offered solid food (Blue Cow Kitchen).

              1. re: TonyC

                re: sunnyspot
                the wings and the flatbread are "normally" offered at happy hour for $6 each.
                dunno about any quantity differences, but not enough of a savings to cause me to go there during restaurant week.

          2. enjoyed lukshon tonight.
            will probably go back at least two more times before the end of restaurant week.

            9 Replies
            1. re: westsidegal

              And what specific dishes did you enjoy? =)

              1. re: westsidegal

                WSG: I was looking at Lukshon! I guess you liked it! What did you have?

                1. re: jencounter

                  tea leaf salad--ok
                  tofu noodles-- good (people who never eat vegetarian food will probably not appreciate this dish as much as i did)
                  sea bass---truly exceptionally good.

                  when i go back i will be trying the butterfish and the papaya salad for sure.

                2. re: westsidegal

                  There seems to be some confusion in the other DineLA thread... for Lukshon, is the party only allowed to order 3 of the items or is it 3 choices per person?

                  1. re: andytseng

                    i went alone and sat at the bar.
                    i ordered three items for myself.
                    dunno what would have happened if i went with a large party of people

                    1. re: andytseng

                      Special dine la menu with a limited selection, about ten or so, choice of 3 per person @ $25

                    2. re: westsidegal

                      Had Lukshon monday night. Had the Hawaiian Butterfish, Steamed Cod, Soft Shelled Crab, Lamb tartare, Pork Ribs, and Green Papaya Salad. Overall it was somewhat disappointing. My overall impression of Lukshon is that there's too much distraction going on in their dishes, and I enjoyed individual elements more.

                      The butterfish itself was delicious, however the dish suffered from the pickled ginger and other toppings which distracted from the very beautiful protein. The steamed cod dish was uninteresting and it resembled a fish steak on light tom yum soup..probably my least favorite dish of the evening; I would have preferred a bolder, more flavorful sauce.
                      Soft shelled crab was fried to delicious perfection..the sauce was forgettable.
                      I wanted more lamb/meaty flavor from the lamb tartare. Texturally I liked it, however I think the meat itself was overwhelmed with a) an overly strong sweet soy sauce, b) sichuan peppercorn (which actually was alright with the dish, but it lingered on for the rest of the meal so I recommend saving this dish last). c) some sort of mint/herb was equally overwhelming.
                      Pork ribs were very porky in a next day reheated in the microwave sense, and I feel like this dish is definitely a missed opportunity with a lack of smokiness (IMO smokiness was replicated via the addition of cocoa?) and a glaze that didn't amaze.
                      The green papaya salad was near textbook and albeit maybe a bit safer than other places (It may lack certain authentic touches seen at decent Thai places like fermented crab bits). However I do give kudos to the crispness and freshness of the produce.

                      Overall I'm not discounting Lukshon as a whole yet, definitely a lot of dishes yet to be had, but as of now I'm in no rush to return.

                      PS: Loved the free desert. Condensed milk reduction was like a silky perfected vanilla pudding. Carrot cake was also really good.

                      1. re: Xan7hos

                        I've found the same thing at my visits to Lukshon. It's not even like the elements work together like they do at A Frame/Chego. i found them horribly distracting...


                        1. re: Xan7hos

                          ate at lukshon for the second time last night:
                          fwiw, respectfully disagree with your opinions about the cod and the butterfish.
                          had both of them last night, and, this was the second time i've had the cod.

                          to, me, on both occasions, the cod dish was perfectly balanced, had a great combination of flavors, and was presented well.
                          as a matter of fact, i'll probably be going back there tonight to have this dish for a third time.

                          secondly, to my palate, the toppings on the butterfish were wonderful accents--they were used very judiciously and added to the taste experience without AT ALL overpowering the delicate fish.

                          guess we'll just have to disagree on these. . . .

                      2. I'm considering Jar.

                        I just noticed that there doesn't seem to be any Friday or Saturday restrictions this time for Dine LA. I'll have to confirm when I book a table.

                        1. We have dinner reservations at Scarpetta and Rivera next week. I was thinking I wouldn't mind trying to make it to Lukshon and/or Itacho too but I doubt I'll have the time.

                          1. I'm all for Dine LA, though I agree it's dumb to eliminate dessert from lunch. I scrutinize the menus to ensure that it will be worthwhile, I definitely think for some restaurants it is, some it isn't. The good thing this time is that for the first time the deal is available on a Saturday.

                            The ones I'm hitting for sure are: Lukshon, (3 dishes per person), The Palms ($45 for a composed watermelon salad, 9 oz filet mignon with lobster mashed potatoes, another side of choice, and one of three desserts is for sure a good deal.)

                            Also hittiing Mo-Chica, which has a nice array of offerings for Dine LA and a nice vegetarian option. (I have a veg friend that I usually hit one Dine LA with, it can challenging to find good options.)

                            On my list if I can get to more next week: Water Grill has a soft shell crab Bahn Mi sandwich at lunch that is calling my name. Gladstones in Malibu looked good for lunch. And If I need a another dinner, Waterloo at $35 has a very tasty looking dinner offering.

                            I'm not going to La Botte this time, but I've been to two different Dine LA meals there, and both were exceptional!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: sarahbeths

                              You might want to check recent comments about Gladstone's. They've been pretty brutal.

                              1. re: sarahbeths

                                Gladstones? The only thing worse than their food is their service. MHO.

                                1. re: Baron

                                  Never been there, I liked their lunch menu, but if I make it out there I'll lower my expectations. For $20 two course lunch may be worth a gamble.

                                  1. re: sarahbeths

                                    i would avoid the place even if they were willing to pay ME $20 to eat their food.

                              2. I just went to Next Door by Josie for lunch - cauliflower soup and penne pasta. It was fine, but nothing to go out of your way for (and no dessert).

                                1. Went to Haven Gastropub in Pasadena for their dinner. For $25 I thought it was a good deal, I got the frisee and radichio salad (which unfortunately they omitted the poached egg and skimped on the bacon lardons, comon it's can't be that expensive?) which was decent, hangar steak with fries cooked perfectly but needed to ask for salt, and desert which was a array of chocolate or strawberry shortcake both which were decent. For $25 I can't complain the space is nice and comfortable and the service was good.

                                  1. Reporting back on Lukshon- It was flipping amazing! I felt kind of stupid that it's been a mile from my home this whole time and I've never been before. The good news was it was 3 dishes a person, so we got to try 6 different dishes for $25 each. We had: Butterfish, Tea Salad with Prawn, Papaya Salad, Kurobuta Pork Ribs, chicken pops, and soft shell crab. The butterfish was insane- It seemed to be crudo, which was a surprise to me, and a way I don't believe I've it done before. It had an intensely delicious flavor that blew us away. Similar to a great ceviche- a lot of acid and brightness. For me that was the star dish, but the ribs were also falling off the bone (only complaint is the portion of the ribs was somewhat unsatisfying for sharing), and the chicken pops were banging with flavor. Spicy and sweet, I can understand why those pops are one of their signature items. And freshly fried soft shell crab with picked veggies and sweet/hot sauce? You can't deny how delicious that was. The salads were my last favorite, but the most plentiful and added a balance to all the savory.

                                    There was also a fabulous cocktail- scotch with ginger and black tea liqueur. I had one, could have had 5.

                                    Then there was a teeny tiny dessert brought out for us to share. A little tiny two-bite carrot cake with a passion fruit sauce. The one bite that I got out of sharing this was FANTASTIC. If I could have an entire normal sized slice of this dessert I would be a happy girl. The other mini dessert, a condensed milk parfait with coffee was less successful.

                                    My boyfriend got stuck at work- this meal was so good and such a great deal that I'm going back THIS WEEK to take him. If I get to control the plates I think I'll do 2 butterfish and 2 crab, 1 pop, 1 rib, and try the black cod and tofu noodles. Really, I'm adding Lukshon to my list of go-to restaurnts. For some reason I didn't have a strong pull to this place despite it's reputation, and now I feel silly that it took me so long. The space is gorgeous as well.

                                    Btw pictures on instagram, username sbkitten

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: sarahbeths

                                      i'll be returning there tonight.
                                      will again order the sea bass, and, for sure, will order the butterfish.
                                      at this point i'm torn about what i'll order as my third dish.. . .

                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                        the butterfish was just as terrific as you described.
                                        the cod, with its broth containing flecks of red pepper and grated fresh ginger was, again, superb.

                                      2. re: sarahbeths

                                        Silly question, both Father's Office are 21+ I believe. Is Lukshon similarly restricted?

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            Thanks! May take the little ones to try it during dineLA.

                                            Those of you who had it, isn't "Hawaiian Butterfish" escolar? Any ... um, issues after having it? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escolar#...) I actually like escolar sushi (listed as ono in sushi restaurants here, not to be confused with what Hawaiians call ono, which is wahoo, I think), and having one or two pieces doesn't seem to be a problem.

                                            1. re: PeterCC

                                              Butterfish should be Black Cod. I've had it (Butterfish) out at many restuarants (not Lukshon though) without problems. I have read though that Escolar does get mislabelled as Butterfish frequently.

                                              1. re: bg90027

                                                Apparently "butterfish" can be any of 17 species (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfish), including the Japanese butterfish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese...) which I had today at Yojisan (and was excellent). I was just curious because "Hawaiian Butterfish" (key word "Hawaiian") is another name for escolar.

                                                1. re: PeterCC

                                                  This is really funny because I coincidentally researched this when I got home from Lukshon. I plan on asking them when I return. The thing that made me question what fish was "hawaiian butterfish" is that they also have black cod on their Dine LA menu. So I thought, huh? I thought butterfish WAS black cod. If it is indeed Escolar, it is probably okay because the portion is so small, and what I read said that small amounts of it won't give you that problem. And I read that the Top Chef contestants had to cook Escolar at a challenge at La Bernadin which apparently serves it daily so....I wouldn't be shocked if Lukshon is serving it, I will find out tonight if I can make the reservation!

                                                  1. re: sarahbeths

                                                    Report back if you find out! :-)

                                                    I actually like escolar, and I've never had any adverse effects from it, but I usually just have an order of nigiri, so probably only a few ounces of the actual fish.

                                                    1. re: sarahbeths

                                                      whatever it is, this evening i ate the delicious stuff for the second time this week and i have no problems.

                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                        It is escolar! I asked, the server said "waloo or white tuna" and I thought that's the same as escolar and eventually he asked the kitchen and came back and said I was right. Unfortunately it didn't taste nearly as delicious tonight as it did on Tuesday. Even more unfortunately, I had a terrible service snafu which will prevent me from returning to Lukshon. I'll detail tomorrow when my Internet hopefully is back. (pecking on iPhone now with 3G)

                                                        1. re: sarahbeths

                                                          Thanks for reporting back! Sorry to hear about the service issue. :-(

                                                        2. re: westsidegal

                                                          Wow, so many of you are going multiple times. I gotta try to make it. It's so much easier to do at lunch during the week, though.

                                                          I know I can call them to ask, and I will, but just in case, does anyone know offhand whether they'd let me order the "choice of three" $25 dinner option during lunch hours? I think the regular lunch menu has all the items offered on the dineLA dinner menu, so it wouldn't be an issue of them not serving something during lunch.

                                          2. just got back from nine-thirty at the w hotel.was expecting sunchoke soup,but they changed it to corn bisque-but it was fantastic.the salmon pizza was basically a salad with too few pieces of salmon with a medicore crust.
                                            lunch yesterday at the six was fantastic

                                            1. Tried Yojisan. Will do full write-up later, but the duck ceviche is very good, as is the green tea pudding dessert.

                                              The 7 piece chef's choice with 4 piece California roll was a pretty standard platter o' sushi, with the California roll nothing to write home about, and the nigiri pieces a bit on the small side (I assume "dineLA" sizing) but gives you a taste of what you might want to try a la carte. It included a piece of ibodai (Japanese butterfish), which was good enough that I had to order a separate piece a la carte, which thankfully was more of a normal-size cut of fish.

                                              Another highlight was the bintoro (albacore belly), which was very smooth and "melty" and was topped with a wasabi pickle sauce that was amazing.

                                              If I go back, would probably be for lunch again, and would try the beef tataki (even though the duck was really good) and the half lobster gratinar, and just order a few pieces of nigiri a la carte.

                                              1. went to Water Grill for lunch....first visit since the renovation. really like the new look of this restaurant. from the DineLA menu we had as first course the house smoked salmon ( excellent) and heirloom tomatoes (did not not taste shaved bottarga in this dish) and second course was white sea bass and king salmon. Not on the DineLA menu, we also shared a steamed clams appetizer (really delicious). we were too full for dessert so did not miss it (not included on dine la lunch menu for this restaurant. we did have a half bottle of albarino which I thought was reasonably priced. I was ambivalent about lunch at this place even though I had been a fan of Water Grill in the past but I am glad that I visited during DineLA. As you might expect all the fish dishes were excellently prepared and the only dish that I would not consider on a return visit would be the heirloom tomatoes.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: foufou

                                                  +1 for Water Grill. Some of the best seafood in the city.

                                                  1. re: foufou

                                                    Went to WG last night. Also my first time since the redo. Very different! But I like it. Masculine, clubby... feels kind of Boston or something. It was packed and the service very slow.. but good. We were happy to linger. Based on foufou, we did get the clams appetizer... wow, really delicious indeed. Amazing sauce. (Their bread is killer, too, FYI.) I had the funky version of the caesar, which was excellent and my friend had the clam chowder, which thankfully has not been changed, Still the best clam chowder ever. The fishes... sea bass and yellowtail... were very good. But both had very sweet shadings, which neither of us like that much. I'd love to go back and order fish off the non DineLA menu and get one that is spicy, not sweet. The Bread Pudding was terrific, the key Lime pie just fine.

                                                    1. re: Tom P

                                                      Glad you enjoyed your meal at WG....you're right, the restaurant does have an "east coast" feel to it.....try the salmon when you return...it didn't have the sweet notes that you found with the sea bass and yellow tail.

                                                  2. Reporting back after having dinner at Restaurant 2117, located aptly on 2117 Sawtelle in the heart of Little Osaka. Overall it was a satisfying and solid meal. The DineLA menu pulls a few favorites from the menu, with a choice of a starter, a main, and a dessert @ $35/person. I ended up choosing the Hamachi sashimi, Wagyu skirt steak w/ fries, and a flourless(?) chocolate cake for dessert. The ladyfriend ended up with the fried calamari, shrimp pasta, and XO creme brulee.

                                                    The hamachi sashimi was a good starter; about 6 or so pieces of fresh and fatty hamachi. The salad greens served on top of the sashimi felt a bit lost given that the dish wasn't a salad, and the lines of wasabi provided were left untouched. Perhaps replacing the salad greens with microgreens such as arugula flowers or alfalfa sprouts would have been nicer.
                                                    The fried calamari dish was certainly the most memorable, and while the calamari was nice and tender I did wish it was a bit crispier (my guess is that it wasn't fried in hot enough oil). However the garlic parsley pesto sauce really elevates the dish into something special; it's a bit on the heavy side with a slight tang (almost like cooked mayonnaise) but it actually works really well with the fried calamari, which were gone quickly.
                                                    The shrimp pasta was solid...I did get a rogue dried pasta (like pasta that clings to the outside of a boiling pot and just dries), but the shrimp was fresh and not overcooked. Again, nothing too spectacular but the execution and flavors were solid.
                                                    Same goes with the wagyu skirt steak. I asked for medium rare and it came out closer to the rarer side which was perfectly fine. The pan sauce never overpowered the very fatty and beefy flavor of the steak, which had nice char flavor and was well rested. Kudos for the food being served on hot plates too. The fries/pomme frites were a nice dark brown and while I would've preferred a crispier crust (again..perhaps not fried in hot enough oil?), they were definitely good fries that were flavorful and fluffy inside.
                                                    Dessert wise, the XO Cognac creme brulee was great in that the flavors were very balanced and not heavy at all, almost like a creme brulee pudding that wasn't overly sweet and the XO actually gave it a smoky/woodsy depth that was great. The flourless ganache chocolate cake was textbook..nothing wrong with it at all but nothing special.

                                                    Overall 2117 is a solid choice for food that's a bit safer but delicious nonetheless. I think personally I'm at a point where I'm a bit disillusioned with more haute cuisine (such as Lukshon, A-frame, etc.) that are doing more innovative things but just aren't delivering on the wow or flavor department...in that regard 2117 delivers food that is cooked well with proven dishes.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Xan7hos

                                                      Bouchon is offering a great DineLA lunch, including dessert. That is where I'll be going.

                                                      1. re: maudies5

                                                        Magnificent lunch at Bouchon. I started with the chicken liver mousse which had a beautiful glaze and a prune which appeared to be marinated in armagnac. Served with grilled bread. This appetizer knocked it out of the park. Next was Moules and Frites. The serving of mussels was very generous and the broth with a hint of saffron was to die for. Best preparation of this dish ever; including France, Fries were also delicious.
                                                        Dessert was a shared creme caramel (which added an additional $4.00 to our $25.pp check. Packed for lunch . I noticed that many people were ordering the Duck Confit with green lentils as an entree. As I looked around, I saw many smiles with the first bite of food. The couple at the adjacent table ordered the chicken liver mousse (for him) and gazpacho (for her). They were both in love with their appetizers. Bouchon was truly great bang for the back at twice the price. At Dine LA Price it was a steal.

                                                        1. re: maudies5

                                                          You had exactly what I'm planning on ordering. Glad to hear it was all excelllent! Gonna try to take my wife there for lunch sometime next week before dineLA's over.

                                                          1. re: PeterCC

                                                            I am considering returning next week for lunch. I'll likely get a lighter appetizer. Will definitely get the mussels again. Perhaps if I get a lighter app, I will have an excuse to order the homemade chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Saw a lot of those desserts going by.

                                                          2. re: maudies5

                                                            Went to Bouchon today finally, may write up a full review tonight if I'm up for it, but the highlight was that the level of service there was one of the best I've had at any restaurant. The waitstaff was attentive without being intrusive, apologetic when something went "wrong" (I finished my water, and my waiter, being busy with other tables, left me with an empty glass for a whole 2-3 minutes, oh the horror--sarcasm, if anyone can't tell) without being sycophantic.

                                                            Now for the "bad". Just as I put "wrong" above in quotes, nothing was really bad. The chicken liver mousse was excellent, but the mussels were not as good as I had hoped. The mussels were just a little shriveled, like mollusks do when overcooked. Also, I'm used to being able to sip the broth that the mussels were cooked in, but the broth at Bouchon was a bit too tart for that. It was still excellent for dipping bread into (I still had some from the beginning of the meal). The best mussels I've had in recent history has been at FIG, and I was hoping Bouchon's would be as good, but it didn't quite make it.

                                                            Still the entire meal was quite good, and definitely a steal at $25. Oh, and my waiter let me get dessert to go, so I added on the creme caramel (+$4) and had it back at the office. Really, really good. But the best part of the meal was definitely the service.

                                                      2. Lushon Update (long and sad)

                                                        So last night I went back to Lukshon because I had loved it so much on Tuesday and wanted to take my boyfriend who missed it. To go back to the same restaurant in the same week is not something I typically do, so this was big time excitement on my part for Lukshon and their food. From the start, our server last night (not the server I had on Tuesday), had that attitude like he didn't want to be at work that night. Okay, fine, I can live with an unfriendly waiter, I came for the food. I immediately asked him about the hawaiian butterfish. He said it was waloo or white tuna, I said I thought that was the same as escolar, and asked if he could ask the kitchen if they happened to know. He seemed to expect our order before he got this information, which was fine because I knew that I had eaten half an order of it Tuesday and not felt any adverse effects. I still wanted my bf to try it, even if it was escolar. So we ordered that, the black cod, the chicken pops, the ribs, and 2 orders of the soft shell crab.

                                                        The first sad thing to happen was that the butterfish did not taste the same as it had on Tuesday. The marinade or treatment of the fish was very subtle compared to the delicious intensity of those flavors on Tuesday, and the fish itself was cut thicker and had more of a fishiness than the delicate pieces on Tuesday. My bf said the dish was "okay", which is a perfect barometer of how it had changed. I know he would have flipped for Tuesday's. While we were eating the butterfish, the server returned and said I was right about it being Escolar. He didn't ask how the food was at any point in our meal.

                                                        The crab was delicious and tasted the same. The cocktails were delicious and tasted the same. The chicken pops were almost the same-the flavors were the same but the meat was fattier. The ribs were not as good, sadly, the meat was not falling off the bone and tender, it was drier and so just okay.

                                                        Okay, here is where things got ugly. It pains me to even rehash, but here goes. Done with our plates, the server announced that dessert was coming up. Now, you may recall that one of the best things from my Tuesday experience was the carrot cake with passion fruit sauce- it was FANTASTIC but TINY, two little bites. So I wanted to order, and pay for, a real sized slice of this cake. So I told the waiter how much I loved the carrot cake and asked if was possible to order a full slice. "No, sorry, they just come in that size." I asked if we could get double carrot cake and skip the other mini dessert that came. "No." (No explanation.)

                                                        Okay, at least I would have the one bite of the fantastic cake. Then our dessert came out, and there was no carrot cake on the plate. It was the condensed milk cup again and then something else, looked kinda like a panna cotta with passion fruit sauce. The runner who brought it to the table explained what it was, but through my disappointment of not getting the carrot cake I didn't hear him. "Where is the carrot cake?" I asked the runner (not the same guy as the main server)
                                                        "It's over THERE" he said with a smug smirk and pointed to the kitchen. Then he ran off.

                                                        I was floored. He was basically saying "Yes, we have it, but we're not giving it to YOU", and in the most rude manner I could imagine. I have never been treated so rudely by waitstaff, ever, and in such a nice restaurant? How could this happen? So I didn't touch the desserts and I waved at our real server, who came over, looking annoyed. I explained that I was eager to have the carrot cake again and that the runner who dropped it off had been rude to me. "I apologize" he said, in a tone that sounded like the exact opposite of an apology. So I asked if it was possible to get the carrot cake. "No, you just get what the chef gives you", he said. And walked away.

                                                        Okay… this wasn't going well at all. I felt very sad at this point and wanted to just leave. The wait staff seemed hostile and taking pleasure in denying me carrot cake, for what reason I have no idea. I'm not a difficult customer, I don't have an attitude or snobby air, I'm really just a sweet girl who happens to love food and came to this place twice in one week because I had liked it so much the first time.

                                                        And then it got even worse. The server dropped dessert at the table next to me, who were also having Dine LA. Yup, the people next to us got carrot cake! Five minutes after denying it to me with an intense zeal! I looked at the waiter and at this point I'm sure my face was shocked and angry, but I didn't say anything. He gave me a self-satisfied smile that was kind of a confirmation that he was purposely denying me the carrot cake and enjoying it. I felt like someone had slapped me in the face, and I just wanted to leave. I didn't want to call the manager and make a big scene in a lovely, crowded restaurant, but I will tell you that for the first time in my entire life I did not leave a tip. I wrote a note on the credit card statement asking the manager to contact me about why and left my email and cell. I usually leave 20% or more- I was a server for years myself.

                                                        My boyfriend pointed out that the server could just trash the credit card slip and say I walked off with both copies, since he didn't have a tip to claim anyway. So I may need to email the restaurant if I want them to know what happened.

                                                        Obviously I won't go back, which is the saddest possible outcome after my Tuesday experience. (Our server on Tuesday was great, btw) I'm still kind of shell shocked and sad from the whole thing. Why do people become servers if they don't want their diners to enjoy their meals?

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: sarahbeths

                                                          Wow. Just, wow. That's awful. :-( I don't blame you for never wanting to go back. Poor, incompetent service would have been bad enough, but malicious, vindictive service? I really do hope you email the restaurant and let them know what happened. That's unacceptable.

                                                          To your credit, you've not tried to discourage people from going, only sharing your experience and reasoning for not going again yourself, but now I'm torn about going myself. On the one hand, I don't want to patronize an establishment where this could happen. On the other hand, the waiter and runner could have just been jerks (or, in the best scenario, had really bad days, but still!) and not representative of the staff in general.

                                                          The fact that you went on Tuesday and did not have an unpleasant experience would point to yesterday being an anomaly, but the fact that two of the staff treated you so poorly together is not a good sign. I've had poor service experiences with the particular waiter/waitress assigned to us saved by another waiter/waitress showing us excellent service to make up for his/her coworker. I'm sorry that wasn't the case here.

                                                          (As to your last question, not to defend the waiter at all, but many people who work in the food-service industry hate it but unfortunately don't have any other employment options. That's no excuse, however, for the treatment you received.)

                                                          1. re: sarahbeths

                                                            The GM there is Laurie Pesce. You should contact her. While Lukshon never offers large sizes of its desserts for sale, there was no reason to deliberately deprive you of your stated preference for your bite-seized version of an available dessert, and even less sense in then rubbing your nose in the deprivation.

                                                            1. re: New Trial

                                                              I did email her- I'll let everyone know if I hear back.

                                                              1. re: New Trial

                                                                Yes, definitely contact the manager. The treatment you received was deplorable and she needs to know about it.

                                                                1. re: perk

                                                                  Back to a great DineLA Experience. Superb meal at Katsuya Brentwood.
                                                                  $45.00 PP is probably about 1/2 of what one would normally pay for the DineLA promo,
                                                                  My husband and I had the same meal, except for the main dish. He opted for the black cod and I opted for the Kobe beef.
                                                                  Portions were generous. Every dish was beautifully prepared. I love that the Spicy Tuna was offered as an appetizer and four generous pieces were served, We were happy!

                                                                  1. re: maudies5

                                                                    you made great DineLA choices this summer....I envy your lunch experience at Bouchon!

                                                                    1. re: foufou

                                                                      Thanks for the kind words. The lunch at Bouchon was wonderful and memorable. Katsuya, Brentwood is a restaurant we enjoy but where we always seems to spend too much money. The DineLA Menu was perfect. Each dish was delicious; we left feeling satisfied and look forward to returning. BTW, they make a fabulous martini.

                                                            2. quick piccolo review. we went last night and it was disappointing. all the dishes were oversalted except for the duck.

                                                              first course: the scallops were beautiful but both my friend and i had a tremendous amount of salt that we ended up sending it back (I can't remember the last time I sent anything back :( ) second round, mine was still too salty, my friend's said hers was fine.

                                                              second course: spaghettini, also quite salty. the lobster didn't add much to the dish. my friend liked her purple potato gnocci though and the taglietelle that my husband had was pretty good, just a lil salty.

                                                              third course: fontina ravioli with truffles -a bit salty as well.

                                                              fourth course: duck breast - this was the best thing i ate all night. light sweetness in the sauce, duck was cooked medium rare.

                                                              fifth course: dessert - peach panna cotta with caramel whiskey/scotch sauce. the caramel whiskeny scotch sauce was so smokey and numbed my tongue, didn't really care for it. everyone else had good desserts.

                                                              don't think i will be going back. liked the space though. it was quite loud.

                                                              1. Had a lovely lunch with a group of 14 yesterday at Libra Brazilian Steakhouse in Culver City. The service was immaculate and the food delicious. My favorite of the items at the salad bar (and there were many fresh, delicious choices) were the braised cumin cabbage, creamed corn, roasted corn salad and the beet and orange salad. Be sure to get the onion vinaigrette (it does go great with the meat!). They also served these warm bread balls that had some sort of cheese mixed in and Fried Yucca at the table. DineLA menu said they also serve Crispy Polenta, but I never saw any of that. If desired, you could pay $7 more for the "prime" meats - Ribeye, Filet Mignon, Prime Rib and Lamb Chops. As well as an additional $5 for dessert. I was cool with the offerings you got for the $20.
                                                                It was really delicious. All the meats were fabulous. I liked them all! They also served pineapples that were also cooked on a spit and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. That was phenomenal. I would definitely go back, in a heartbeat!
                                                                If you are having a hard time deciding, go here - I think you will really enjoy it!
                                                                On Thursday, I have reservations for Lawry's. Went a couple of years ago for DineLA and could not get over how perfectly the lobster tail was cooked. I could have eaten 10 of them... and I am not a huge fan of lobster! ;-)


                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: WildSwede

                                                                  Have you tried Fogo de Chao yet? It is also on DineLA and, if you liked Libra, you will probably love Fogo. More expensive than Libra but, I think, well worth it.

                                                                  1. re: New Trial

                                                                    Yup the lunch price is much more worth it but you don't get desert anymore. Too bad they stopped lunch service on weekends.

                                                                2. Has anyone mentioned Night+Market? Probably the only place that truly experiments via their DineLA menu. If you want to try Northern Thai dishes (think Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas), then give it a shot. But yeah, otherwise DineLA is meh in general. Maybe I'll go to Fogo again though, since it's the same for less...

                                                                  1. Went to Fat Spoon on Friday, 7/20 for dinner. Didn't even realize they were participating in DineLA... the SO just wanted some Japanese curry and we happened to be in the area.

                                                                    They offer 2 "small bites", a salad, entree, dessert, and they give you a little bread-type thingie to take home. I'm actually okay with Fat Spoon based solely on their pork cutlet curry, and favor it over Curry House. Unfortunately, we did not enjoy their DineLA offerings very much.

                                                                    The shell on the kobe corn dog bites was not crisp and had the texture of frozen corn dogs you heat up in the microwave. The beef tataki was okay. They were out of the hijiki salad (seaweed) so we just had the house salad which was meh. Since our other order was the pork cutlet curry, we opted for the basil pesto pasta w/ smoked chicken. The smoke didn't come through on the chicken, and the pasta tasted pretty standard

                                                                    The dessert of baked sweet potato w/ vanilla ice cream was tasty, but it also came with a syrupy-caramel-y sauce. The combination of everything made the dish too rich and sweet, and we couldn't finish it. Didn't eat the take home "pan" until a few days later so I don't think I can give a fair assessment on that.

                                                                    I came away from the experience feeling the same way about Fat Spoon as I had before... I'd go there if I had a hankering for Japanese style curry, and that's pretty much it.

                                                                    1. A brief summary of my recent DineLA experiences:

                                                                      Papilles: This is sort of unfair because they do what approximates the DineLA format every night. Having said that, it was just as flavorful and appetizing as always. Chef Tim is so personable and sure has a way with sauces. An excellent value every night.

                                                                      Bouchon: Went for lunch. It was good, not great. Aside from the Ad Hoc fried chicken nights (which are excellent), that has been my general assessment of Bouchon. Very good service. Beautiful room. Decent food, but no “wow.” The affordable DineLa price point mitigates my slight disenchantment, although the upcharge on the steak salad seemed odd in light of what was presented to me at the table.

                                                                      One Pico: Amazing service. Gorgeous view of the sunset and the pier. Over cooked and under seasoned food. And only two selections per category. Food wise, this was a let down.

                                                                      Craft: They just know how to do the DineLA thing right. Service was impeccable. Food was plentiful, well seasoned, and executed. Desserts were a highlight as usual. And all of the little goodies at the end makes for a most hospitable night. They did not skimp on the quality of ingredients despite the discounted price. This place has never disappointed me and again, I long to return right after I had left.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: djquinnc

                                                                        Agree with you totally regarding Craft.....a perfect DineLA experience

                                                                        1. re: foufou

                                                                          And they're serving DineLA at the bar.

                                                                          Also, they don't deny you of dessert, complimentary or otherwise. Everybody gets the popcorn, everybody gets granola. DineLA or otherwise. You have ~5 more hours for the best DineLA dessert ending known to LA.

                                                                          1. re: TonyC

                                                                            Agreed. Craft is the best for dinela -- I'm pretty much done w all the others.

                                                                      2. Had the DineLA menu at Fig & Olive with a friend last night, which was good, if not amazing. First time I've eaten there, so I don't have any experience w/ the regular menu for comparison purposes. DineLA menu has 6 choices each for apps and mains, which is more than I've seen at most places. My gazpacho was good; I didn't taste her fig & manchego salad, but it looked a bit busy and overdressed. Both were normal appetizer sized portions. We then both had and enjoyed the truffle mushroom risotto, which was delicious, and seemed like a small portion at first but turned out to be plenty given the richness. Finished with a very nice chocolate pot de creme. Place was packed, but service was excellent, other than a noticeably long gap between the taking of our drink and dinner orders. Pretty, albeit loud, room.

                                                                        1. We went to Scarpetta on Tuesday and had a great meal. I opted for the creamy polenta with the fricassee of truffled mushrooms for an appetizer, the short rib agnolotti with brown butter, hazelnuts and horseradish for the main course and the coconut panna cotta for desert. My girlfriend was in the mood for a steak and didn't order from the dinela menu. Everything was wonderful. They have extended their dinela offer for an extra week so it will be offered all of next week to. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wishes to delay the diet another week.

                                                                          I went to Noir in Pasadena for lunch today and had the cup of gumbo followed up by the Farwell Burger. Both excellent and a real steal for $15. I probably would have come close to that if I'd just grabbed a sandwich, chips and a soda at the deli around the corner.

                                                                          Looking forward to dinner at Rivera tonight and then a break for my wallet and wasteline.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: bg90027

                                                                            Your meal at Scarpettta sounds great. That they are extending the promo through next week is even better, Thanks for the report and your DineLA experience and the heads up on the extension.

                                                                          2. Had a DineLA lunch at Chinois on Friday. Three of us. The Chinois chicken salad as a starter had to be usual size, it was big and satisfying. Stir-fried lamb in radicchio cups had two, covered with a tempura onion ring, rather than three or four, but it is a great dish. The shrimp samosas were basically tempura shrimp. The szechwan beef entree was delicious, though the beef seemed to be flank rather than filet. But this dish is almost $30 on the regular lunch menu. The salmon was wonderful, a big portion perfectly cooked. I didn't taste the black and gold noodles with seafood -- too full with the other dishes.

                                                                            Chinois always plates their dishes with lettuces, herbs, and other garnishes that are delicious when eaten with their sauces. Their "small" dishes are barely smaller than their larger ones. This lunch was delicious, satisfying, and more than enough food. A bargain. And the service, always a Puck strength, was topnotch -- from the front desk hostess who sat me (before my two other guests arrived) from or server to the other server who helped out and the bus person who served and cleared. Teamwork.

                                                                            1. The dates are just up for the next DineLA . They are January 21st 2013-Feb 1st 2013. Start making your lists now.

                                                                              1 Reply