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Nov 9, 2012 08:57 AM

Special occasion with limits.

50th Wedding Anniversary
6 adults (1vegetarian, 1 allergy issues)
3 bottles of personal wine (properly handled)
Boundaries: The triangle Brentwood to Venice to downtown
Priority: food quality, service, room
3 courses: app, main, sweet/cheese
$100/person limit (out the door)
Saturday night reservation

I have my mental list, now I need your top 3.


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    1. Thanks to the lone poster for the reply. I was hoping for more from the collective wisdom. I am considering: Vincenti, Spago & Piccolo. Racion also crossed my mind but probably not elegant enough. How is Piccolo in terms of ambiance? I've never been, but know it is well received. And how is the new Spago?

      1 Reply
      1. what do you mean when you say,
        " 3 bottles of personal wine (properly handled)

        will you be bringing wine from your own cellar to the restaurant or will you be buying wine from the wine list?

        7 Replies
        1. re: westsidegal

          I'm sure the OP means that he has three bottles from his personal collection that he'd like to celebrate with. His specifying that the wine has been properly handled means that he has stored it under proper conditions, and implies that he wants and expects the restaurant to treat it with care and respect and use good glassware, etc.

          Herein lies the problem. In my experience (really, dining with my father and also my brother, both knowledgeable about good wine with nice collections) this is best done in a restaurant where you are a regular and have cultivated a relationship with the staff and sommelier. Most good restaurants with nice wine programs will permit patrons to bring in wine but with limitations. Almost always you cannot bring bottles that are on their list. Often they will permit one bottle for each bottle purchased there. The better the wine program, often the higher the corkage -- $20 used to be pretty much a floor but I've seen $30 to $40 and even $50 a bottle.

          So I think that is why there have been few replies. I immediately thought Valentino in Santa Monica on Pico -- maybe the finest wine program in SoCal -- but their website did not enumerate a corkage policy. Their menu, however, did show a very impressive prix fixe menu with several choices for $70/pp. So bottom line: First, permitting your bottles to be brought in and served is going to require conversation with the restaurant beforehand. Second, it isn't going to be cheap, so dining at higher-end places such as Valentino or Vincenti or Spago, where the food alone is going to push your $100 out the door (tax adds almost 10%, tip adds 18-20%, beverages (non-alcoholic) and coffee, etc. adds up too) are simply not in your ballpark if your pricepoint isn't flexible.

          My suggestion, go down a notch or two so you aren't worried about your budget and consider places such as Brunello's in Culver City. You might also check out Tanino's in Westwood Village -- lovely rooms (the former Alice's Restaurant decades ago) and very good food.

          1. re: nosh

            Yes, the wine is from my personal collection. One Champagne, one white Burgundy and one old Cal Cab (my father loves Cal Cab). I would be impressed if any of the places we go have these wines on their list so duplicates should be a non-issue. I have no problem paying corkage. I just don't want the waiter (hopefully there will be a somm on staff) to grab the bottle of Cab and shake it around as he looks at the label and then proceeds to poor the wine to top of the glass. Extracting corks from older bottles can also be a challenge.Sometimes there are limits to the # of bottles, but we're hoping to find a place where this is not policy.

            In reviewing some menus on line and adding 30% (tax/tip) we think Vincenti & Piccolo are doable. Spago appears to be a work in progress so we'll wait that one out.

            I appreciate the comments so far.

            1. re: Grog

              Josie has a corkage free Tuesday (although their policy is a maximum of 2 bottle so you might contact them to see about your third bottle). If your vegetarian guest wouldn't be put off by the heads on the wall then Saddle Peak Lodge could be a very nice choice. While I haven't been to the "new" Bel Air Hotel it would probably be worth checking out.

              1. re: Grog

                the last time i was out with a group and we brought our own fine wine, we went to the Penthouse at the Huntley.
                the wine was treated properly in all respects.
                my food and our service was terrific.
                that said, others on this board have reported that their food experiences were not as good as mine.
                i'm not sure of the exact cost because i wasn't the one who paid, but i'm certain that, in the end, the tab did exceed $100/pp.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  Unfortunately SPL is not in our desired area (see boundaries above). Thanks for the josie (though we are going on sat night) & penthouse recs.

                  We can up the $/pp to 125.

                  1. re: Grog

                    Definitely check out Valentino's on Pico in Santa Monica. They have a very nice prix-fixe menu online for $70pp, with choices for each course. I'm certain they would adjust if needed for a vegetarian. There is no better wine program in SoCal. Your higher limit may just make this doable.

                    I know what you mean about old corks. If you have a cork remover that has the gently curved metal extensions on each side, where you fit them in on either side of the cork and then twist it out, bring it with you -- this is much better for old corks that a corkscrew. And if push comes to shove (which it might) it is better to push the cork into the bottle and pour around it than break it up and have to fish the little pieces out or strain the wine.

                    Please report back on which places best accommodated your bringing and serving the prized bottles. And happy celebration.

                    1. re: nosh

                      Ah-so. Never leave home without it.
                      I actually use the waiters cork screw and then apply the ah-so in Durand like fashion if necessary.