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Date Night? DTLA, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Eagle Rock, etc.

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Going on a second date next week. First date was just cocktails.

I tend to be adventurous but also think there are few things more delicious than a well prepared burger. She's a recovering vegetarian, says she's up for something new/inventive.

I'm looking for a place in the environs mentioned above that's conducive to conversation and offers an experience where we can appreciate the menu but don't feel the chef is trying too hard. I'd also like to keep the tab to under say $125 or so for two with drinks. Something casual and fun with a full bar or at least a beer/wine license.

Was thinking of Lazy Ox (have never been) but am open and eager to hear your suggestions.

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  1. I think I saw Lazy Ox on a list of the most deafening restaurants in L.A. Not conducive to conversation.

    The food's not cutting edge, but for a romantic ambiance, Colombo's Italian restaurant and jazz club in Eagle Rock is a good choice. It's real old school, been around since the fifties. On Saturday nights there's a pianist playing old standards. He's truly amazing, and it's a wonderful experience listening to him and soaking up all the old vibes.
    It's not so loud that it will interfere with conversation, but provides a nice diversion if conversation falters. Also nice, big red leather booths for surreptitious groping!

    1 Reply
    1. re: MarkC

      Thanks for the suggestion re: Colombo's. I've been a few times before and I I think I'm looking for something a bit more contemporary. If we do decide to go, should I specifically ask for a "groping booth"? :)

      Also, thanks about the heads up in regards to the noise at Lazy Ox. It would suck to have to shout the entire time. That was one of the reasons I nixed Bottega Louie.

    2. Allumette in Echo Park.
      Went for the first time the other night and was absolutely blown away. Nice, intimate atmosphere; Full bar w/ an expertly curated cocktail menu; menu rivals that of Red Medecine (one of the top restaurants in L.A. IMHO) at 1/2 the price.
      Also, their Cauliflower dish will certainly be appreciated by a "recovering vegetarian".

      18 Replies
      1. re: FranklinJefferson

        As great as Allumette may, or not be, I think OP wants a place that is $125 TOTAL, not $125/per person...

        1. re: Stravinsky

          "I think OP wants a place that is $125 TOTAL, not $125/per person..."

          And that is PRECISELY why I made this recommendation. My companion and I had the Tasting menus w/ Wine pairings, 2 Appetizers and several cocktails. Total was <$250. The OP sharing 3 - 4 dishes and a couple of cocktails/glasses of wine would barely break $100.

          1. re: Stravinsky

            They do a tasting menu at $55 per person, and if you want to go off the menu you can see http://allumettela.com/food.html that their prices are pretty reasonable. Wine can always drive up prices...but that's true wherever you go in this town.

            1. re: Servorg

              $55 tasting (doesn't include drinks) is $110, and a tip would put it over $125... OP wanted $125 total with drinks/tip/tax...

              Wouldn't 3-4 dishes be like, almost not a dinner there (looking at photos of portion sizes)?

              1. re: Stravinsky

                To be fair, I didn't say $125 with tip and, of course, I'll spend more if it's warranted.

                Allumette looks interesting but it might be a bit much at this point. She's made it clear that she doesn't like to be fussed over, which means that a tasting menu with wine pairings may be appropriate down the road but not at this point.

                I'm a firm believer in not pulling out the big guns until I'm a bit further down this particular road. At this early stage in a (proto) relationship, I prefer to succeed (or fail) on my merits, as foolish as that may sound. :)

                1. re: Stravinsky

                  Let's say they order a snack to share, then the blistered cauliflower and the matsutake vegetables along with two mains like the scallop and the octopus confit. Finally they split a dessert. They each have a before dinner drink and then one beer and a glass of house wine with dinner. After tax the bill would be right around $126. Since nothing was said about tax and tip in the OP's post this seems like a very good suggestion by FJ. And, as to your assertion of the meal here coming in at $125 PER PERSON (emphasis mine)...that is laughable.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Thanks, Servorg,

                    And referencing the OP's concern about being 'fussed over', the service was exemplary. there was always a server available but in no way did we feel anyone was hovering.

                    1. re: JeMange

                      Is DTLA pretty much off your radar?

                      In Silverlake, you might also try L&E Oyster Bar.

                      Personally, I might just go to Pho in Silverlake. Casual, pleasant, simple, and the Bun with eggrolls and steak is always good.

                      1. re: Stravinsky

                        DTLA is most definitely not off the radar. In fact, its in the title of my first post. Pho in Silver Lake is a little too downscale but L&E might be a possibility.

                        Thanks

                        1. re: Stravinsky

                          Definitely didn't ignore it - read it and am considering your suggestions.

                          I've been to Baco Mercat for lunch and enjoyed it. Worth considering.

                          Have not been to Bar Ama and it definitely looks like a possibility, along with Spice Table. When you say it won't be around much longer, are they shuttering for some reason?

                          1. re: JeMange

                            The city is building a metrorail through The Spice Table's location next year, so they are being forced to close. It has nothing to do with their quality. They are one of the best restaurants in LA.

                            I would highly recommend it for the kind of quiet, romantic atmosphere you are looking for. It's adventurous, but they also have that killer cheeseburger, so it seems like it literally fits both your idea of a good time, your partners, and it has the right atmosphere.

                            I love Baco, and go there by myself at the bar, on dates, and with my family, but it's not the most quiet place.

                            Bar Ama is more quiet, but I would also say that The Spice Table is better than Bar Ama unless you are REALLY into tex mex.

                            1. re: Stravinsky

                              <highly recommend it for the kind of quiet, romantic atmosphere>

                              Quiet?

                              1. re: latindancer

                                Has always been when I've been.

                                1. re: Stravinsky

                                  For Spice Table? I've been twice, and the brick + concrete made for really bad acoustics, IMO.

                              2. re: Stravinsky

                                We heart Spice Table. But the back room can be very loud. Deafening almost.

                            2. re: JeMange

                              I'm always a bit worried about restaurants that aren't consistent…with service and food. I've been when the oysters are stellar and come back and they're not the same quality.

                              L&E happens to be one of them.
                              Also, beware they don't take reservations so date-wise it's a crap shoot.

                              1. re: latindancer

                                Thanks for the feedback.

                                Inconsistency is certainly a red flag and the lack of reservations + valet parking sort of makes it a deal breaker, especially given the lack of nearby walkable options other than LA Mill, which I absolutely despise.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  We eat at L&E about once every couple of weeks. We love it for it's consistency. She's a steady eddy. That being said, we do not eat there on Mondays or Tuesdays. Though there are fresh oyster deliveries on those days, the biggest shipments are on Wednesday-Friday.

                                  Depending upon your arrival time, putting your name in, then going upstairs to the bar as suggested makes for a great date night. And the menus are different upstairs and downstairs.

                                  L&E does have valet.

                  2. If you eat outside, I would say for sure Bäco Mercat. It can bit a bit loud inside at peak hours, but the food and drinks are amazing, and you will definitely come in well under $125.

                    If your partner likes tex-mex, then do Bar Ama instead.

                    Quieter/more romantic perhaps, is Eat.Drink.Americano in the Arts District.

                    Kokkekokorro in Little Tokyo could also work out well, but you'll sit at a bar, perhaps too crazy for recovering vegetarian.

                    The Spice Table is pretty intimate, usually quiet in my experience, and has spectacular cuisine. Probably my top pick if quiet is of the utmost importance. Get the laksa and kaya toast (but they also do a great burger). plus the place won't be around much longer sadly =(

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Stravinsky

                      bar ama is pretty loud.

                    2. Just a little outside of your geographic bounds, but look at Bashan up in Glendale.

                      In DTLA, try Peking Tavern. It can be a bit loud if you are close to the communal table or bar area, but if you can get a corner or nook table, it's fine for table-side googly-eyed conversation.

                      Also, in DTLA check out The Stocking Frame, bonus points for you if you can get a table by the fireplace.

                      Good luck.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Is Bashan loud/boomy inside? The picture of the dining room on the website makes it look like an echo chamber.

                        1. re: JeMange

                          Though it's been several years since I was last there, I will say that the acoustics were never an issue in my 4 - 5 visits. And I'm definitely in the "old folks" camp where background noise is concerned.

                          1. re: JeMange

                            bashan is quiet.

                            1. re: JeMange

                              Bashan is not loud or boomy.

                              There's a nice din to the room, just this side short of quiet.

                              And it's certainly several (stress "several") decibel levels lower than, say, a place like Spice Table that's been recommended up above.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              Is Peking Tavern full service? I read somewhere that you order at the counter, which I don't really want to deal with at dinner time?

                              1. re: JeMange

                                Right. Order at counter. Servers bring food. Sorry.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  No biggie. Glad I caught that beforehand, as I really hate that service model outside of lunch.

                            3. We love L&E Oyster Bar for date nights. It's intimate, casual and laid back. There are veggie and non-raw items on the menu. Put your name in at restaurant at the bottom, then go upstairs for an apertif. Sit by the window and look out.

                              Don't think it's a full bar, but a reasonably price and well-curated beer, wine and cider list.

                              Lighting is great. Have fun and good luck!

                              1. How about Blair's in Silverlake? Always solid. Not fussy, but very nice neighborhood bistro kind of vibe. They have beer and wine, but you could start with a drink at the Edendale Grill.
                                Of Cliff's Edge, which is really lovely on the patio. They have a new (ok...newer....i haven't been there for a while) chef, so I'm not sure about the food now. Maybe other hounds can comment. But I'm pretty sure there's a full bar.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: perk

                                  I always thought of Cliff's Edge as a place that coasts on its setting, although I haven't eaten there in years.

                                  I'd like to hear from someone who's dined there recently.

                                  1. re: JeMange

                                    Have not been there since Vartan took over the kitchen. If he's there, suspect the food is great.

                                    Not our favorite place when the weather is cool.

                                2. The Park in Echo Park? Went there for a prix-fixe dinner NYE ~2-3 yrs ago and thought it was delicious. Ambiance is quite casual, but the food (at least that evening) was really good. Maybe be worth exploring.

                                  http://www.thepark1400sunset.com/

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: ilysla

                                    Love The Park but it's a bit too familiar at this point - I'm there probably every other week - and maybe not quite special enough.

                                    1. re: JeMange

                                      What about Cafe Stella http://cafestella.com/ at Sunset Junction?

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Servorg, I think we've exchanged posts about Cafe Stella elsewhere on this board. While the location/setting are, shall we say, "conducive," I find the food to be both mediocre and ridiculously overpriced for what you get.

                                        1. re: JeMange

                                          I really liked my food at breakfast there, but dinner obviously isn't breakfast. I just thought the vibe was nice. Is Barbrix doable in terms of price? Do you like them any better?

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            For some reason, I always forget about Barbrix. Maybe because it's tucked way back off a stretch of Hyperion I usually zoom right past.

                                            I've never been. It's a small plates joint, right?

                                            1. re: JeMange

                                              I thought of it as a combo place, some small plates and some pretty big. That combo works better for us as my wife likes to have her "own" dinner...What can I say? She's an only child.

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                barbrix is a pretty darn
                                                good choice.

                                              2. re: JeMange

                                                I absolutely love Barbrix, especially the cauliflower, brussel sprouts and any of the pastas. You can do a mix of small plates or order larger plates. It's cozy and definitely within your budget. It does tend to get loud but it's not deafening.

                                                I wouldn't recommend Lazy Ox. We ate there a few weeks ago. It was so loud I couldn't hear what the people across from me were saying and the food was ok but not great.

                                                1. re: whatsfordinner

                                                  Nice to know the food is still up to par at Barbrix. Thx to many for the update.

                                            2. re: JeMange

                                              You weren't so vehemently negative about Stella back then http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8936...

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I hate when my words come back to haunt me!

                                                The last time I dined there - a few months back - my steak was tough and we were relatively shocked at the bill, given the pretty basic level of food on offer.

                                                In my defense, I also said this:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/913319

                                      2. What about Little Beast in Eagle Rock. It took the place of Larkin's in that old craftsman house.

                                        littlebeastrestaurant.com

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: love2eat

                                          Any info on quality of food/service?

                                          1. re: JeMange

                                            I have not been but I live around the corner and the place is always busy.

                                            1. re: love2eat

                                              That place (Little Beast) looks http://www.littlebeastrestaurant.com/ like a winner. And despite the fact I don't bother to read individual yelp reviews the fact that this place has 87 reviews and comes out at 4.5 stars would make me likely to give it a try if I lived close by (especially true for a "date night" dinner as it looks really romantic).

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                Right now, I'm leaning towards somewhere in DTLA, as a post dinner walk/talk would be nice.

                                                As for Little Beast, it does look good but I'm gonna have to get past the legacy of its location. Visited Larkin's a few times and was put off by their clueless approach to the restaurant biz.

                                                1. re: JeMange

                                                  You could walk over to Cacao and have a post dinner drink at their new wine bar specializing in Mexican wines from Baja California.

                                                  http://www.cacaodeli.com/vinos_del_va...

                                                  1. re: love2eat

                                                    While I'm not saying that DTLA offers great walking across the board - large portions resemble a post apocalyptic wasteland minus the rampaging mutants - the walk along Colorado there is decidedly sad.

                                                    1. re: JeMange

                                                      Haven't been but the views from Perch http://www.perchla.com/ looks pretty nice.

                                                  2. re: JeMange

                                                    Then it appears that your only dilemma is price. DT has so many nice places. So why not explore a spot that no has recommended on this thread and get back to us with your experience.

                                            2. re: love2eat

                                              Had a disappointing meal at Little Beast a couple of months ago. We decided to sit outdoors and weren't seated for more than a couple of minutes before I caught a whiff of whatever the open sewer smell is in that area that I first encountered at Larkins. Then my halibut was unforgivably overcooked. They confessed that a diner the previous night had had the same experience and offered to bring me a new plate, but that never works and just ruins the pace of the meal. They did not charge me for my entree and the rest of the meal was acceptable, but I'm not sure I'll be going back.

                                            3. Downtown: Lazy Ox, Aburiya Toronako, Church & State, Spice Table

                                              Echo Park: Red Hill (deserves a lot more love)

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: bg90027

                                                This http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/911963 is the only mention I could find about Red Hill on the site. If you've been please post about it.

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  I'm surprised that there aren't at least a few more posts about Red Hill. It seems like the type of restaurant that would have a small cult following.

                                                  I am pretty lazy about making detailed posts about my dining experiences but will make sure that I add something to that thread after the next time i go there, which will likely be pretty soon.

                                                  For now though, I'll add a few more details here. Red Hill is located across the street from Allumette in a converted chinese bakery. It's owned by Jason Michaud who also owns Local and used to own Chimu (before it closed) - the casual Peruvian place with Mario Alberto (now at Laurel Hardware).

                                                  It's a small dining room. I'd guess about 50-75 person capacity with an open kitchen and a small counter where you can sit and watch the action in the kitchen.

                                                  The chef is Trevor Rocco who used to be the chef at Grindhaus Sausages in Hollywood. I was really sad when that closed. Their sausages were absolutely delicious and very inventive. Some of my favorite flavors were Andouille with Crawfish, Beef Chimichurri, Wild Boar with Bratwurst seasonings, Duck with Chocolate and Cherries. They also made mustards in house, potted meats, and pickled vegetables.

                                                  Red Hill has a similar sensibility to it. There are lots of grilled flatbreads with interesting toppings. There is a simple bread plate with house churned butter and house made pickles. One of my favorite starters is Beignets with Lardo and Mustard Seed. They basically drop 3 small balls of beignet dough in the fryer and top them with a slice of lardo that melts and glazes them and top each with a small pyramid of mustard seed on each. I've thought about ordering those over and over until I'm full but so far have shown retraint.

                                                  They have a great pasta dish with a really nice wide papardelle noddle with a rich and hearty ragu sometimes made with pulled pork and other times with lamb neck. They do a really nice trout with brown butter, blueberries and jalapeno. I need to work my way through the menu more but there is a nice looking pork chop, a duck leg dish, some risottos and other items. The menu is pretty small but everything I've had has been good, although I find it hard to not order the papardelle and beignets because I love them so much. There are some vegetarian options if JeMange's date isn't fully recovered yet.

                                                  They have a small but good selection of affordable wine and craft beer (but no liquor license). you can easily eat there well with a glass of beer or wine for $50 per person including tip. It strikes as exactly the sort of place JeMange might be looking for, where everything is very good but casual and it wouldn't be overdoing it for a 2nd date.

                                                2. re: bg90027

                                                  church and state is really loud.

                                                3. So, it looks like we're going to Spice Table on Wednesday night. I'll report back.

                                                  1. So, we had dinner at Spice Table last night. Shared plates of bone marrow, yellowtail sashimi, fried cauliflower and lamb belly satay. Everything was really tasty, with the bone marrow and the satay being standouts for me. She smiled throughout the meal and routinely commented on how delicious everything was.

                                                    Service was fantastic. Our server was always there when we needed something, she seemed to know the menu in detail and the dishes came out at a pleasantly leisurely pace.

                                                    As for the room, it was a bit loud but maybe I found it that way simply because I'm a bit deaf due to years of going to rock shows without any ear protection.

                                                    We didn't order very much - the dishes mentioned above plus two beers for me, Craftsman Cirrus Sour and two sauvignon blancs for her - and the bill came to under $100 minus tip.

                                                    Thanks for the recs. I've put the others on a list for future visits.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: JeMange

                                                      Awesome!

                                                      Makes you wish they weren't closing eh?

                                                      1. re: Stravinsky

                                                        I was told that they're moving, not shuttering the business competely but that was from another diner, not someone on staff.

                                                        1. re: JeMange

                                                          http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/11/...

                                                      2. re: JeMange

                                                        Thanks for coming back and reporting.

                                                        It sounds like you had a great time and the food/service was 'fantastic'. I'm happy she enjoyed it.
                                                        Loud music is a huge part of my life, and always has been, and I'm also beginning to wonder the same things you are as I grow older.

                                                        It's good to know Spice Table is a consistently great place for those special times.

                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                          I hear you... or not as the case may be. Although I've tapered off a bit, a few years back I routinely hit 2 or more shows a week . I'm sure that had a negative impact on my hearing.

                                                          As for Spice Table, I'm going to make an effort to return before the end of things. Also, while we had a great time, I found it to be the sort of place that's as appropriate for a casual midweek dinner as anything else.

                                                      3. littlefork in Hollywood fits the bill. excellent food and cocktails and not jam packed so you can actually carry on a conversation.

                                                        maybe for date #3?