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The best Tasting Menu in LA for a special ocassion?

Hi, I'm a Chowhound newbie so please be gentle!

I'm looking for suggestions, hints and ideas on the best tasting menus in LA. My father is in LA on business and is staying on for the Breeder's Cup. I'll be in LA for the Breeder's Cup via work. We have 10/28-11/1 before the racing travelling and sight seeing. I'd like to treat him to a tasting menu somewhere one evening during that time.

I've been been looking through old threads and have seen suggestions for Melissé, Providence, Saam @ The Bazaar and Osteria Mozza. Some of the threads were older though and I know places can improve (or not) over time! So any fresh suggestions would be great. Budget wise about $500 total including tax and tip is the upper end of what I'd look at but less is always appreciated!

I'm leaning towards Saam for José Andrés' "Molecular Gastronomy" and associations with Ferran Andriá's El Bulli as that has always been a food Mecca for my father. Reviews seem to be very divided though?

Any help is gratefully recieved! Thanks.

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  1. Spago has just reopened.....and is always wonderful. I'd consider that as well. I think Melisse, Providence, Saam and Osteria Mozza are all still excellent. Don't think you'd have a bad experience/meal at any of those. Though I haven't been to Saam in quite a while. If you and your father lean towards seafood, then Providence would be your best bet. And local restaurants are starting to get the first shipments of truffles....and I know Providence is featuring them now. Probably Melisse as well. If that's of interest.

    2 Replies
    1. re: perk

      The Providence tasting menu has been a highlight of my LA dining experiences.

      1. re: perk

        Spago's new food looks amazing but there is no tasting menu it is a more trendy shared plates ordeal but you can construct your own tasting menu in a way now.

      2. The only tasting menu I've had among the restaurants you mentioned was at Providence, and like wienermobile, I really enjoyed it. And based on my many friends’ experiences at the other restaurants you mentioned, I agree with perk that you’ve identified winners.

        Obviously you’ve done your research, and eliminated Urasawa at $375 pp for food only.

        I don’t like when people make suggestions for places they have never tried. But since you’re from out of town, I’ll make an exception just to bring awareness. Since you’re attending the Breeder’s Cup at Santa Anita, I suggest you look into the Royce at the Langham in Pasadena. I want to try it. I just haven’t tried it yet. And it's the closest place to Santa Anita in the caliber you're discussing.

        1. Not knowing what the "new" Spago would be like, I would rank your options like this:

          1. Providence
          1A. Saam
          3. Melisse
          4. OM
          5. Valentino
          6. Hatfield's

          1. Considering your preference for the Molecular Gastronomy type of food, I would say Saam is a very good option. I don't think I've come across too much disdain for the experience at Saam. Chowhounders may tend to dislike Bazaar, but the 2 restaurants, although related, are miles apart in terms of the experience they provide. I think it's also worth considering ink, although I think the Tasting Menu isn't as fun as just ordering half the menu. And I always like to throw n/naka's hat in the ring, as the chef throws in the occassional "molecular gastronomy" flourish in an intelligent way.

            1. I've only done the Chef's tasting at providence. The food was very good, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by the service. I think I would choose Melisse, from everything I've seen the menu is more than modern enough to appeal to those who appreciate technique, and it seems a bit more substantial than The Bazaar.

              Have you considered somewhere like Ink? The atmosphere/service is likely a good bit more casual, but the food seems like it would fit the bill.