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Grandma really only likes American...

aliris Apr 6, 2013 05:35 PM

sigh. I was thinking of going to Ocean Ave Seafood but that seems to have bitten the dust. She likes Spitfire but I'm not a huge fan ... any suggestions anyone please, for boring old American food on the westside? Thanks!

  1. d
    Dirtywextraolives Apr 6, 2013 05:59 PM

    You don't mention a budget, so these are a bit all over the map.....

    Hillstones or Banderas
    Tar & Roses
    Rustic Canyon
    Upper West
    Westside Tavern
    Josie's or next Door by Josie

    19 Replies
    1. re: Dirtywextraolives
      westsidegal Apr 6, 2013 06:16 PM

      caveat about jiraffe:
      i love their food, but much of it is not "american' to me.

      here's an example:
      "Spanish Port wine braised New Zealand Lamb Shank, $32
      white bean hummus, sweet onions, caponata of eggplant, roasted tomato, lemon basil, kalamata olives, natural lamb jus"

      i'd characterize much of their menu as americanish.
      don't know if that is close enough for the op's grandma.

      1. re: Dirtywextraolives
        ipsedixit Apr 6, 2013 07:36 PM


        You think Jiraffe, Josie, Westside Tavern and Tar & roses are "boring old American"?

        What, pray tell, then constitutes exciting new American in your book?

        1. re: ipsedixit
          Porthos Apr 6, 2013 08:11 PM

          I found Josie and Jiraffe a bit boring.

          1. re: Porthos
            ipsedixit Apr 6, 2013 08:15 PM

            Did you find it to be boring and old, and American?

            1. re: ipsedixit
              Porthos Apr 6, 2013 08:21 PM

              More like boring Cal-French/Cal-Med.

              1. re: Porthos
                ipsedixit Apr 6, 2013 08:27 PM


          2. re: ipsedixit
            westsidegal Apr 6, 2013 08:15 PM

            no, the opposite.
            if someone wants "boring old American," i wouldn't recommend jiraffe because the food is too exciting, and most of their dishes would NOT be the "boring american" that the OP requested. (or that i had understood the OP to be requesting)

            i didn't comment on josie at all because i haven't been there in many years.

            as you know, i'm not a fan of westside tavern, but that has nothing to do with the issue of how american or unamerican or boring or exciting their food is.

            if the OP had not set a budget, my recommendation would have been for Grill on the Alley, but, sadly, it costs more than s/he wants to spend.

            1. re: westsidegal
              ipsedixit Apr 6, 2013 08:17 PM

              Grill, or Pacific Dining Car would've been my suggestion.

              1. re: ipsedixit
                westsidegal Apr 6, 2013 08:18 PM

                i love pacific dining car too.

                1. re: westsidegal
                  ipsedixit Apr 6, 2013 08:19 PM

                  What is they say about great minds ... oh, nevermind, you probably already know.

                  1. re: westsidegal
                    Baron Apr 7, 2013 08:37 AM

                    Really? The one down town or Santa Monica? What do you order? I use to go to the downtown PDC but I heard they went down hill in quality but up hill in price. Your opinion is respected 'round here.

                    1. re: Baron
                      westsidegal Apr 7, 2013 01:45 PM


                      i order a martini, a salad (usually the iceberg lettuce with blue cheese), vegetable (nothing with cream sauce nor with hollandaise) and fish (but not the salmon and not the lobster).

                      the price for good fish has skyrocketed everywhere (except for my inglewood fav) so that doesn't shock me at all.
                      also, my forays into PDC are usually as someone's guest, so i'm not very sensitive to price when i go there. my host is normally from NYC so basically bombproof about price.

                      last time i went was about 10 months ago.

                      it's nice when a steakhouse offers more in the way of fish than the ubiquitous salmon (which i burned out on years ago) and a shrimp cocktail made with overcooked shrimp.

                      that said, when spending my own money on fish, a steak house would never be my first choice.

                      1. re: westsidegal
                        ipsedixit Apr 7, 2013 07:01 PM

                        that said, when spending my own money on fish, a steak house would never be my first choice.

                        Funny, but when spending my own money, PDC would never be my first choice.

                        And I actually like PDC.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          westsidegal Apr 7, 2013 11:21 PM

                          really, when spending my own money on food, any restaurant that specializes in old style american food would not be my first choice.
                          (i.e. no creamed spinach made with bacon, no mashed potatoes, nothing resembling thanksgiving dinner, etc.)

                          much prefer the likes of
                          stella rosa
                          sushi zo

                          1. re: westsidegal
                            J.L. Apr 8, 2013 12:28 AM

                            Coni'Seafood ... when Sergio is cooking. :-)

                            1. re: J.L.
                              westsidegal Apr 8, 2013 12:58 AM

                              you got it

            2. re: Dirtywextraolives
              soniabegonia Apr 6, 2013 09:40 PM

              i'm really shocked by the popularity of upper west. I think i've been there 4-5 times for various work events and think the food is mariginal. it is also far from boring old ameican. i would actually prefer boring old american to upper west's sad attempt at being "eclectic" or "modern" or "blank-inspired" or whatever. They seem to use middle eastern spicing on a lot of things - eg their veggie burger has an overwhelming curry flavor such that all you get is a mushy texture w/ curry flavor and their brussels sprouts w/ "moroccan" flavors have zero brussels sprouts flavor due to the overpowering spicing. They also make some really pathetic attempts at asian "inspired" items. almost everything i've tried w/ asian flavors have been overdone & overly sweet - eg their ahi tuna tacos, HH wings, etc.

              As to OP's inquiry, i think Daily Grill should suit grandma's needs just fine. They do some non-traditional American but also have really traditional items like mac & cheese, meat loaf w/ mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, hell, even a chopped steak. And they have excellent bread.

              1. re: soniabegonia
                aliris Apr 6, 2013 10:37 PM

                Daily Grill would have been just fine; it would have been a good idea. But I appreciated something a little chain-y. For all I know WS Tavern is a chain too but I had never heard of it before this evening, so at least I don't know of it. Everytime I drive through a new city I see Daily Grills looking all smoky and black-windowed from the outside at least.

                Grandma was totally thrilled with WS Tavern even though it definitely failed the not-noisy test. It's clear, though, they were actually trying to dampen the volume in there a bit because there is cork on some walls and many sound-catching protrusions. It would have done volumes for them to turn off the rock music of course; everyone just talks louder to get up over it, so not only can you not hear the music but you can't hear your dinner companions either; perfect.

                The menu at WS Tavern was perfect. The food a little less inspiring than the menu, but oddly enough, reality didn't have to follow through on this type of dinner date as much as anticipation. Just the people-watching and the room-watching and the food-watching and the waitron-watching was a blast in itself. The food was very good, just didn't hold up quite the whole way through.

                For example the garden salad was quite uninspired - you can buy bags of prewashed lettuce with leaves small enough to stuff into one's mouth. These were not and they weren't cut either. The dressing was dull. Lettuces were fresh though.

                The Mac n Cheese was a disappointment; just too rich. The excess isn't necessary, it felt like death on each bite. Even my two children did not finish a fairly small container and that is saying *a lot*.

                The lamb sandwich was just delicious as many have mentioned.

                The sweet potato fries were delicious but again, way too much fat in the sauce provided: excessive (same for the MacNChz; just too much, and the salad dressing was all fat, almost no oil). There was a very good veggie chili.

                So what this means is it was all tasty, gotten there by excessive fat. It tasted really good at first but very quickly one feels bloated and bogged down by the richness. I don't mean this as a terrible criticism; we were very happy with the place. Good, very good perhaps, but not great.

                Service was excellent-ish, particularly considering how crowded they were.

                Thanks very much for introducing me to this Gma place. Judging by the average age of the crowd, this is not the only grandma who enjoys this restaurant. AT 50-something, I felt well below the average age there, it was a little odd.

                I will hold on to all those other suggestions for the future too. Thanks for the great list and thoughts, all.

                1. re: aliris
                  Dirtywextraolives Apr 7, 2013 11:08 AM

                  Glad to hear you found some place that at least fit the bill, if not perfectly. And you're very welcome.

            3. a
              aliris Apr 6, 2013 06:07 PM

              Thanks, dirty - that's a fun list I hadn't even thought of hardly one for. Budget? I dunno -- I was just looking at Hal's website and it's just a lot of money, but we *could* go that high... higher, no. I'm guessing, therefore, that, say, Jiraffe is out. I don't even know of some of the others so I'm looking forward to looking at them. But I guess the budget would be about around what Ocean Ave Seafood was.

              Another issue is noise. Grandma can't take noise and hustle/bustle. Teens want white table cloth.... Burgers a plus for Gma. Veggies, 4 me ... sigh. I hate this; it's why I almost always just cook at home these days. :)

              Again, thanks for the list. I'll get cracking on it...

              ...and Westside Tavern it is! I'll report back. Thank you so very much. It looks like it may be perfect, with the exception, perhaps, of noisiness... we'll see. Thanks again!

              2 Replies
              1. re: aliris
                Dirtywextraolives Apr 6, 2013 06:15 PM

                Upper West has a burger and white tablecloths. Don't know how loud it gets tho.
                So does Rustic Canyon, which has a great burger, but it does get crowded & noisy.
                Josie's is white tablecloths too, but no burger.
                Good luck!

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                  Porthos Apr 6, 2013 06:21 PM

                  Not a big fan of Josie's but they have a buffalo gruyere burger with truffle oil fries.


              2. t
                Thor123 Apr 6, 2013 08:22 PM

                SouthBeverly Grill should be perfect.

                1. cookie monster Apr 6, 2013 09:13 PM

                  Not a recommendation I would usually make, but Daily Grill seems like it would meet your needs. Or maybe 26 Beach? Not a white table cloth place, but it's cute with good burgers and other non-threatening American food.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cookie monster
                    westsidegal Apr 6, 2013 09:41 PM

                    26 beach is a good recommendation because their burgers are terrific (get them with the fries, skip the insipid side salad)
                    their entree salads are terrific.

                    i am not a fan of their regular entrees, though.

                    the restaurant is decorated in the "shabby chic" style, so it is warm and inviting, but not white tablecloth elegant.

                    1. re: westsidegal
                      aliris Apr 6, 2013 10:24 PM

                      26 beach has been a sort of go-to place for the Gma for years but I got sort of fed up of the shabbiness myself. Personally, I have a problem with calling shabby chic; most everything I own is authentically shabby, and let me tell you, no one would mistake that for chic. But just calling it so isn't, so really, all that pretentiousness is too much for me.

                      But in general, yes, that would be a place I knew about that was +/- spot-on, though it's true, I was looking for slightly more elegant or at least new-to-us tonight. But indeed, those burgers are just what the mother ordered....


                  2. Baron Apr 7, 2013 08:29 AM

                    If you were ready for Ocean Ave Seafood for Granny, check out the Grill on the Alley in BH. They do a good job with seafood and just about anything you order. Great salads, drinks. I've never been disappointed at the Grill. Good American fair - not boring.

                    Not surprised that Ocean Ave Seafood closed. Last time I had lunch there the food was sub par.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Baron
                      wienermobile Apr 7, 2013 09:31 AM

                      Ocean Ave Seafood closed and will become Water Grill Santa Monica this summer.

                      1. re: Baron
                        westsidegal Apr 7, 2013 01:36 PM

                        grill on the alley costs quite a bit more than ocean av. seafood

                      2. y
                        yogachik Apr 7, 2013 08:59 AM

                        Hillstone. She'll love it.

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