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Blow-out late lunch, Santa Monica/Venice/MDR, this Saturday

spoonlicker Dec 6, 2012 05:47 PM

Price is not an object. Any cuisine.

Constraints: non-LOUD environment; serves food till at least 3 pm (or will let us sit and yap after we've eaten); can get a reservation (or walk in) this Saturday.

Prefer to stay away from the hideousness that is the 3rd St. Promenade and immediate environs, but will brave the area if needed to access fabulous food.

Fire away!

  1. s
    spoonlicker Dec 8, 2012 04:35 PM


    Well, after all the excellent suggestions here, we ended up eating at, Zeus save our souls, Brick + Mortar. My companion was running "fashionably late", so due to logistics we had to postpone the fancy-pants meal.

    Other than a fine view of the shopping-cart Xmas tree sculpture, I can't say much positive about B+M (it can't be only me who associates bowel movement with those initials?). My companion spoke highly of his chicken and waffles, and my Eggs Benedict were good, but...urk, not the fabby meal I'd envisioned.

    'S'OK, it just means a re-schedule of the Spendy Lunch for after the holidays, at which time I will plan ahead enough to use one of the many fine recs from this thread. So, your help wasn't wasted.

    Thanks, everybody.

    1. n
      nosh Dec 7, 2012 08:09 PM

      For your blow-out dinner I would consider Chinois.

      I am a big fan of Gjelina. Yes, I've been seated on the patio on a table I thought would be too small but they did a great job of clearing plates between rounds of courses. I have had pizzas (lamb sausage, wonderfully blistered, charred crust), salads (some kind of curly spinach? with a lemony dressing), small plates (pork belly with polenta and greens; simple gnocchi crisped and delicate in a brown butter), and dessert (butterscotch pot de creme with salt better than Mozza's) that have been extraordinary.

      5 Replies
      1. re: nosh
        Servorg Dec 7, 2012 08:29 PM

        Unfortunately Chinois is another of those upscale restaurants that isn't open for lunch on Saturdays.

        1. re: Servorg
          ipsedixit Dec 7, 2012 09:11 PM

          Even if it was open for Sat lunch the din would inevitably DQ it based on the OP's parameters of "non-LOUD environment".

          1. re: ipsedixit
            spoonlicker Dec 7, 2012 09:49 PM

            I had originally thought of Chinois, thinking that if it were open for lunch, perhaps the dinnertime din and cheek-to-jowl seating would be less of an issue. It fits the bill on all other levels. But alas and alack, no Saturday lunch hours.

            1. re: spoonlicker
              nosh Dec 8, 2012 07:36 PM

              Down the thread OP asked for a DINNER rec as well, and since lunch was going to be a long, relatively quiet conversation, did NOT mention quiet for dinner.

              My rec of Chinois specified the blow-out DINNER.

              1. re: nosh
                ipsedixit Dec 8, 2012 09:09 PM

                Sure sounds like the OP wanted a non-loud restaurant for dinner as well.


      2. d
        dgusanz Dec 7, 2012 11:43 AM

        Fig - good food, nice place to sit and talk, always open as it is in a hotel. Request a corner table off the hostess stand for max privacy and quiet.

        Pacific Dining Car - in SM on Wilshire - VERY comfy and not that expensive if you order off the breakfast menu (you can order off any menu any time). The Roast Beef Hash is great. Open 365 x 24 x 7. Lovely old-fashioned service. Exellent cocktails.

        Ushuaia Steakhouse - if open for lunch on Sat - never seen it crowded midday.

        Biggest negative on Hosteria del Piccolo is the seating is not that comfy for a long sit.

        Gjelina - way too loud except patio.

        5 Replies
        1. re: dgusanz
          westsidegal Dec 7, 2012 01:04 PM

          actually, iirc, FIG is CLOSED on saturdays between 2pm and 5pm.

          1. re: dgusanz
            westsidegal Dec 7, 2012 07:36 PM

            i agree about Gjelina being way too loud.
            also, they once seated my party of three at a postage-stamp-sized table that was located in the doorway to the patio.
            the waitstaff traffic going through the doorway every two minutes was unsettling.
            there wasn't enough room on our table to hold all the plates and wine and a wine bottle toppled.
            ever since that experience. i've limited myself to going there for 2pm lunches during the week or being there at 5:15 for dinner and always sitting at a communal table.

            1. re: westsidegal
              Thor123 Dec 7, 2012 07:59 PM

              Hals is your call.

              1. re: Thor123
                spoonlicker Dec 7, 2012 09:54 PM

                What's the vibe like there during the day? I like the atmosphere there after dark, but wonder if it's too bright during the day (judging by photos I see online).

                (I was going to add "non-bright interior" to my original list of parameters, but feared I'd be making my list of reqs overly stringent.)

            2. re: dgusanz
              Dirtywextraolives Dec 7, 2012 09:21 PM

              The recommendation of Gjelina was based on the OP's parameters of being a Saturday, late afternoon lunch. Not many places with as good food as Gjelina are even open in the middle of the day, on a weekend. It's loud during the week from about 12-2. The rest of the afternoon, especially on a weekend, is pretty low key and quiet. They would probably have the place to themselves for most of their meal if they are starting around 2-2:30.

            3. wienermobile Dec 7, 2012 07:28 AM

              Milo & Olive

              4 Replies
              1. re: wienermobile
                westsidegal Dec 7, 2012 08:46 AM

                respectfully disagree with Milo and Olive for spoonlicker's purposes.
                the food there is superb.
                the very crowded restaurant with only a communal table does not lend itself to hours of yapping.
                also, the times that i've been there, the hostess, trying to deal with the line of people who are waiting and who have no place to sit while waiting, and deal with the limited seating, was constantly "defragging" the communal table, asking people to move around after they had been seated.
                the noise level was high and you sit close enough to the person (stranger) next to you so that you can easily hear every word of their conversation and vice versa.

                don't get me wrong.
                i LOVE their food.
                (imho, there is no better anchovy pizza in LA)
                but the set up there is antithetical to spoonlicker's purposes

                1. re: westsidegal
                  wienermobile Dec 7, 2012 08:54 AM

                  Ok...but I have found it on the quiet side there after 2pm and before 5 and the food is so good.

                  1. re: wienermobile
                    westsidegal Dec 7, 2012 09:40 AM

                    the food, is, indeed, fantastic.

                    1. re: westsidegal
                      dgusanz Dec 7, 2012 11:45 AM

                      I do love it but am having trouble forgiving them for not having Quiche anymore. I was addicted. Also not really suitable to OPs needs.

              2. s
                spoonlicker Dec 6, 2012 11:15 PM

                Some good suggestions so far -- thanks. Keep 'em coming.

                A few details I forgot to mention; we'll be a party of two; and there is some flexibility in winding down the meal by 2:30-ish, if that opens up any possibilities.

                Anyone have any thoughts on Cafe del Rey? I've never been...

                4 Replies
                1. re: spoonlicker
                  westsidegal Dec 6, 2012 11:37 PM

                  for years cafe del rey was my go-to spot for everything.
                  no longer.
                  i still like it for sitting around their lounge and drinking wine or cocktails.
                  their staff is still lovely, from the hostess to the servers to the parking attendants.

                  nathan is a wonderful bartender
                  their wine list is good both by the bottle and by the glass.
                  the environment is pretty.
                  the whole experience is very civilized.

                  their food quality has declined, though, so i no longer eat there.
                  jason was the last good chef. long gone.
                  carlos was the last good pastry chef. long gone

                  1. re: westsidegal
                    spoonlicker Dec 7, 2012 01:04 AM

                    Thanks for the intel. I was wondering why the place gets so little mention on these boards nowadays -- I can remember it coming up often as a recommendation in years past. I'm bummed I missed out on it at the top of its game.

                    1. re: spoonlicker
                      Servorg Dec 7, 2012 06:49 AM

                      Try http://www.thelobster.com/ for your lunch...

                    2. re: westsidegal
                      J.L. Dec 7, 2012 08:44 PM

                      Former Cafe Del Rey Chef Glen Ishii is now working his magic at Noe at the Omni Hotel in Downtown...

                  2. ipsedixit Dec 6, 2012 09:14 PM

                    Out of the the box ...

                    ... But how about the Restaurant at the Getty?

                    1. goodhealthgourmet Dec 6, 2012 08:56 PM

                      unfortunately i checked OpenTable, and most of the places i would normally suggest for something special (Melisse, JiRaffe, Valentino, Capo etc) don't have any availability for lunch this Saturday. how about Catch at Casa del Mar?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                        westsidegal Dec 6, 2012 11:02 PM

                        in my experience, open table's information about availability has not always been correct.
                        often if you call the restaurant directly, you can get a reservation even when open table says that they're full.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          Servorg Dec 7, 2012 06:47 AM

                          Open Table most likely shows that (no availability) because those places are probably not open for Saturday lunch.

                        2. m
                          maudies5 Dec 6, 2012 08:44 PM

                          The Hungry Cat in Santa Monica Canyon. Great food, drinks and comfortable seating. Wonderful oyster bar. try www.thehungrycat.com

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: maudies5
                            spoonlicker Dec 6, 2012 11:26 PM

                            I'm thinking I may do The Hungry Cat for my blow-out dinner rather than lunch -- how is the evening scene there? Can a person have a conversation, or is it a bit noisy? What's good to order?

                            1. re: spoonlicker
                              Dirtywextraolives Dec 7, 2012 08:17 AM

                              It's very busy. Make sure you get a reservation.

                          2. d
                            Dirtywextraolives Dec 6, 2012 08:02 PM

                            Parameters are a bit iffy as many places do not stay open all day. Just off the top of my head:

                            Stella Rossi (pizza & salad)
                            Hostario del Piccolo

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                              westsidegal Dec 6, 2012 10:59 PM

                              fwiw, i don't think of stella rosa as a comfortable place to sit around and yap.
                              1) it can be very loud (especially when a bunch of kids are racing around and around the bar area while their parents sit, talk, and pretend not to see what's going on.)
                              2) their chairs are very uncomfortable.
                              3) they won't take a reservation for a small party (don't know how many people will be in OP's party)

                              of the restaurants on your list, i'd say that Hosteria del Piccolo best meets all of spoonlicker's criteria.
                              had a lovely lunch there today.
                              be sure to keep feeding the parking meter.

                              1. re: westsidegal
                                spoonlicker Dec 6, 2012 11:22 PM

                                Hostaria looks really great. What dishes did you love best?

                                1. re: spoonlicker
                                  westsidegal Dec 6, 2012 11:31 PM

                                  generally speaking, i like their pastas and much more than their pizzas.
                                  i particularly like their gnocchi.

                                  the only dish i really DIDN'T like was:
                                  (ANGUILLA venetian style salt water eel, marinated with sweet onions: polenta.)
                                  stay away from this one dish.

                                  i've LOVED practically every dessert they've served me.

                                2. re: westsidegal
                                  Dirtywextraolives Dec 7, 2012 08:16 AM

                                  You're correct about those chairs.......

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