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Favorite unique/unusual/special occasion dinner spots on the Westside for under $300 for 2 all in?

v
violet42 Jun 12, 2013 02:33 PM

hello!

I know this is a broad question, but it's meant to be :) I'm looking for recommendations for a romantic and adventurous dinner in a non-pretentious setting, preferably on the westside (or westside-ish). The catch is that I'd like to be out of there for under $300 including everything - dinner, a bottle of wine or 2 drinks pp, tax, and tip. something like n/naka or Sushi Zo would be ideal, but they are too expensive. for reference, our favorite places to eat on a regular basis are A-Frame, Waterloo and City, Father's Office, the prix-fixe bar at Osteria Mozza, middle of the road omakase places (Masu, K-Zo), Little Tokyo hole in the wall places. We also like the food at Tar & Roses and Freddy Smalls, though I think they are frankly both overpriced.

requisites: unique/adventurous or just plain damn good cuisine. not too sceney, loud, hoity-toity, precious, "LA" or overrated (I'm looking at you Son of a Gun, Gjelina, Jitlada, L&E, Superba!) also, no places with laughably small/insultingly prices portions please.

Any recs? Thank you!

  1. b
    budlit Jun 12, 2013 02:38 PM

    Romantic, quiet, not pretentious, precious or sceney with great food & service....Maison Giraud perhaps?

    1. t
      Thor123 Jun 12, 2013 03:24 PM

      Sotto
      Angelini Osteria

      1. Servorg Jun 12, 2013 03:41 PM

        Josie

        1. o
          ozhead Jun 12, 2013 03:43 PM

          Saddle Peak Lodge

          4 Replies
          1. re: ozhead
            wienermobile Jun 12, 2013 06:47 PM

            +1. Saddle peak lodge fits everything you've asked for. Wonderful food in a one of a kind rustic setting. Their elk tenderloin is one of LA's best dishes. A great tasting menu also.

            1. re: wienermobile
              ipsedixit Jun 12, 2013 07:03 PM

              is that really Westside? Or even Westside-ish?

              1. re: ipsedixit
                wienermobile Jun 12, 2013 07:07 PM

                No it is not the Westside at all. We'll call it the west west westside. It's about a 20 mile drive that makes you feel 500 miles out of LA in a good way.

                1. re: wienermobile
                  ipsedixit Jun 12, 2013 07:26 PM

                  Totally with you on that.

                  Just wish there was a nice B&B attached or nearby SPL, then it would be the perfect overnight getaway.

          2. PeterCC Jun 12, 2013 03:49 PM

            I don't know if you'd consider FIG that romantic or adventurous, but it's certainly non-pretentious, and my wife and I enjoy it for "date night" (though her current favorite is Tar & Roses). FIG at Five (50% off everything, or nearly everything, when ordered between 5 PM and 6 PM) should make getting out of there for under $300 super-easy.

            Don't know if, along with n/naka and Zo, you've also eliminated Shunji, but it may be doable. Get two Japanese tastings for $100/pp (or two $50/pp sushi specials, and some a la carte items). Sapporo or sake (or BYOB--not sure on corkage, though). Dessert. May put you right at your upper limit, but not impossible.

            1 Reply
            1. re: PeterCC
              l
              linus Jun 12, 2013 04:13 PM

              sushi omakase at shunji very doable for under 3 bills for 2 people, if you stick to the beer.

            2. TonyC Jun 12, 2013 03:51 PM

              Kiyokawa omakase slots in at $90/pp

              2 Replies
              1. re: TonyC
                PeterCC Jun 12, 2013 03:57 PM

                I need to go there!

                1. re: PeterCC
                  TonyC Jun 12, 2013 04:02 PM

                  chow math: $9 orders of paiche ceviche gets you 1.5 hours at Kiyokawa.

                  (to others: please, don't flag me bro)

              2. v
                violet42 Jun 12, 2013 03:53 PM

                Thank you for the recommendations! Fig/Josie/Palisades/Brentwood aren't really our style, but Kiyokawa and Shunji look right up our alley. I also found Fishing with Dynamite in MB, which could be a fun option!

                1 Reply
                1. re: violet42
                  PeterCC Jun 12, 2013 03:56 PM

                  If you're willing to go to MB and you can't get into FwD (it's a tiny space), try sister restaurant MB Post (my review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/905354).

                  Or Connie & Ted's as something in a similar vein to FwD?

                2. m
                  maudies5 Jun 12, 2013 04:09 PM

                  My husband and I have dined at the "new" AOC twice in recent weeks. The food has been superb as has the service. Both times we ate on the patio. Very very romantic and not too loud. Beautiful ambiance. The check was well under $150 PP, but we did not have wine. Caroline Styne is a great sommelier and I know you will have a fine selection from which to choose.
                  Enjoy your evening.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: maudies5
                    m
                    maudies5 Jun 13, 2013 05:28 PM

                    I know that AOC is not on Chowhound's radar at the moment. However, I do believe you would be very pleased. My sons are true foodies and they were stunned when I told them we were celebrating a family event at AOC, as opposed to Sotto or Bestia or Hinoki, ior another of their current favorites. They loved the food, service and the beautiful patio. My DIL's loved the fact that a major Hollywood heartthrob was at the next table.

                    1. re: maudies5
                      k
                      kevin Jun 13, 2013 05:41 PM

                      They do have a great patio.

                      But the vibe seems a little different than the old space.

                      1. re: kevin
                        m
                        maudies5 Jun 13, 2013 06:27 PM

                        It is definitely more energetic and a great place to spot celebrities who wish to remain discreet. No paparazzi outside. The vibe may be a bit more energetic because they have a full bar. They make great cocktails.

                        1. re: maudies5
                          k
                          kevin Jun 13, 2013 07:07 PM

                          I'll have to try it.

                          Full disclosure: So far I have only had brunch there.

                      2. re: maudies5
                        b
                        BSW6490 Jun 13, 2013 07:11 PM

                        I am anxious to try. Have heard very good things about the new AOC.

                        1. re: BSW6490
                          m
                          maudies5 Jun 13, 2013 07:37 PM

                          When you make a reservation, request the patio. I think it is the loveliest patio around. The food lends itself to the ambiance.

                    2. j
                      josephnl Jun 12, 2013 04:11 PM

                      Josie is very nice with very good food but although very pleasant atmosphere, I would not call it romantic. Sotto has wonderful food and I'd highly recommend it, it can be noisy, and is definitely not romantic. I'm suspecting that it's not really your style, but the beautiful garden at Michael's in Santa Monica is a very romantic setting, and the food is very good. Mmmm...I guess I'm not much help (although I'd probably go to Michael's...or maybe the bar at Dan Tana's).

                      1. r
                        Robert Thornton Jun 12, 2013 04:15 PM

                        Have you tried Il Grano? You seem to enjoy really high quality seafood and Sal has it, as well as nice veggies from his garden. If you order a la carte, it can get pricey given that some of the plates aren't huge, but he's currently doing an early summer menu for $75/per where you get six courses including the super high quality crudo and things like squid ink pasta with sea urchin. That leaves room pricewise for a decent bottle of wine plus tax and tip. Plus it's fairly romantic, not loud or LA hip or pretentious. Nice minimalist decor.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Robert Thornton
                          w
                          whiner Jun 12, 2013 06:10 PM

                          Even if you go a la carte and order a *lot* of food it is hard to see it getting much above $75/person on food. Each ordering an appetizer, sharing a pasta course, each ordering a main course, sharing a side course, each ordering a dessert should still be roughly $80pp assuming you are ordering the most expensive things on the menu.

                          Obviously (if you look at my other post) I think Il Grano is easily the way to go on this one.

                          1. re: whiner
                            i
                            ilysla Jun 13, 2013 12:54 PM

                            This is place next to La Bottega, right? I have it on good authority that you should DEFINITELY ask about the price of the wine before agreeing to the wait staff's suggestion; not doing so could result in a VERY nasty surprise when the bill comes....

                        2. w
                          whiner Jun 12, 2013 05:59 PM

                          Il Grano! Il Grano! Il Grano!!!

                          1. perk Jun 12, 2013 06:15 PM

                            Providence has a special for the month of June. (I believe it's an anniversary celebration.) Tasting menu is $90, I think. Wine pairings take it to $125. (or something close to that) Although it's a high end restaurant, I don't find it pretentious. And it's a terrific value.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: perk
                              v
                              violet42 Jun 12, 2013 06:23 PM

                              I would love to try Providence. Do you have any information about this promotion? I don't see anything on their site.

                              1. re: violet42
                                j
                                josephnl Jun 13, 2013 01:46 PM

                                You should be aware the raves about Providence (as for almost all restaurants) are not universal. We had a very disappointing meal there about a year ago, and even if there's a special prix fixe menu available, getting out for $150pp is likely to be tricky.

                                There are so many other wonderful picks on this thread that I would personally choose instead,...but to be fair, many knowledgeable CH's love Providence.

                            2. perk Jun 12, 2013 06:26 PM

                              When you go to the website....it's the first thing that comes up.
                              And it's less than I thought. Here it is....

                              Celebrate Seven Years of Providence

                              with our Specially Priced Five-Course Menu During the Month of June!

                              Seven wonders of the world. Seven stars in the big dipper. Seven heavens. June marks our seventh anniversary at Providence! We would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our loyal guests, for your enduring support. "We feel so fortunate to have experienced this seven year journey. At times, we look back and can't believe it's been that long. We look forward to many more years of celebrating with our guests, " says co-owner and consummate host, Donato Poto. In honor of this auspicious occasion, Providence is again providing some incentive to celebrate along with us. Beginning June 1st, we are offering our five-course tasting menu, for $75 a person, during the month of June. Menus change daily. We look forward to celebrating this milestone with you!

                              Five-Course Tasting Menu $75/$120 with wine pairing
                              (exclusive of tax, gratuity and beverages)

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: perk
                                v
                                violet42 Jun 12, 2013 06:35 PM

                                Not seeing it at all. Just the regular home page. Do you have a link? Thanks!

                                1. re: violet42
                                  v
                                  violet42 Jun 12, 2013 06:36 PM

                                  I see the copy you pasted at this link, but it was for 2012:

                                  http://www.providencela.com/newslette...

                                  1. re: violet42
                                    v
                                    violet42 Jun 12, 2013 06:37 PM

                                    Eater does have this link, for 2013 - it says $80. Presumably for an eighth anniversary.

                                    http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/05/...

                                    1. re: violet42
                                      Servorg Jun 12, 2013 06:50 PM

                                      Although when I click on that link from the Eater LA site I get a 404 File Not Found page and I don't see this special anniversary menu anywhere on their own website (at least that I could find) http://www.providencela.com/

                                  2. re: perk
                                    westsidegal Jun 12, 2013 11:18 PM

                                    it was $80/pp when i went last week.
                                    it was delicious.

                                    1. re: westsidegal
                                      v
                                      violet42 Jun 13, 2013 01:07 PM

                                      I did call and confirm. However, I asked if they would send me their wine list and they said no. Can anyone confirm if Providence does have wines by the glass? Do they have decent bottles of French whites in the $50-60 range?

                                  3. perk Jun 12, 2013 06:59 PM

                                    Sorry. I must have pulled up an old page, and I did go on the website and didn't see it there. But they're not always great about updating the website. I received an e-mail about it....I believe they do it every June. But you could call them or e-mail them and ask about it. They're good about responding. Pretty sure it's $80 for the tasting....and another $45 for wine pairings.....for the entire month of June.

                                    1. perk Jun 13, 2013 01:34 PM

                                      They do have wines by the glass. I'm sure you could find something in the price range you mentioned, but not sure it would be in the French category. And the wine pairings are only $40 more than the tasting price. You could always share a pairing.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: perk
                                        v
                                        violet42 Jun 13, 2013 01:39 PM

                                        That's interesting - they would let you share a pairing? Do you get two glasses or would you just share the same glass? Sorry if this is a dumb question :)

                                        1. re: violet42
                                          j
                                          josephnl Jun 13, 2013 01:52 PM

                                          Some restaurants will do graciously do this, pouring a small amount into 2 glasses (I've seen it done at my Las Vegas fave, Le Cirque). I've also seen it declined, not so graciously...but I suppose one could always order it, the other not, and both sip out of the same glass.

                                      2. f
                                        foodiemahoodie Jun 13, 2013 04:36 PM

                                        Here's how to go a tiny bit over budget, but getting pretty close. Go to n/naka, get the 9 course chef's tasting menu at 110 per.

                                        $220, Then, get ONE wine pairing and share it. $55. Sharing one glass of wine is intimate and fun. I've done it (when I was trying to avoid drinking too much - say the night before I went a little wild. Well, sharing a glass - STILL get pretty bombed!)

                                        $275. With tip that will put you over the top. You can find the cheapest wine on their menu - $28. Or take advantage of their $25 corkage and bring your own - say a $15 cremant.

                                        Zo is not remotely romantic. Excellent sushi yes, personable service? No, you kinda feel rushed (not their attention, but literally the second you're both finished with one serving, a middle aged woman sneaks up and takes the plate.)

                                        n/naka definitely fits that bill; it feels serene and private and the meal is not rushed.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                          PeterCC Jun 13, 2013 04:43 PM

                                          The prices at n/naka are not inclusive of taxes, though, right? So $275 would turn into ~$300 even before tip. Assuming 20% on pre-tax, that'll put it at ~$355 minimum, more if they wanted to tip more.

                                          1. re: PeterCC
                                            f
                                            foodiemahoodie Jun 14, 2013 12:19 AM

                                            You're absolutely right - I was caught up with the romance of the whole thing and started more of spending his money. Though I think this scenario is the best and worth the extra scratch...

                                            2x$110=$220

                                            $28 for a bottle of their most affordable wine - a white grenache

                                            That's $248. 9% tax is $22.32, so we're at $270.32 before tip.

                                            $37.20 is 15% of 248 (acceptable tip). 307.20. Still too much, but getting close. If you forgo the bottle of wine and go for 2 x $10 of a red grenache - you hit just under the $300 mark.

                                            And this is - IMHO - by the far the best restaurant choice (and the place OP would like to go if he/she could afford it - and he/she can).

                                            1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                              j
                                              josephnl Jun 14, 2013 07:43 AM

                                              Would you consider n/naka romantic?

                                          2. re: foodiemahoodie
                                            k
                                            kevin Jun 13, 2013 04:58 PM

                                            I agree.

                                            Zo is most definitely not romantic in the least.

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