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Dec 26, 2013 06:39 PM

Anniversary dinner OC or LA

Can you recommend a good restaurant for our 25 years wedding anniversary. We are in OC but do not mind one hour drive to LA. A nice place and good food, No needs to be too fancy. We plan to spend less than $60 for each person. Any kind of food is OK but not Chinese or fatty food. Thank you.

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  1. Marche Moderne in South Coast Plaza.

    13 Replies
    1. re: JAB

      +1...and do make sure that you ask them to do a special dessert to celebrate with. Amelia (the co-owner, her husband Florent is the chef) is really a wonderful pastry chef. Only thing, with alcohol, tax and tip it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to stay at $60pp. Recommend that you consider splurging for a really special time...otherwise consider lunch.

      1. re: JAB

        +1, it is fabulous! One of our favorite places to celebrate a special occasion.

        Our other favorite place is Napa Rose, at the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland. Make a reservation in advance and call them directly if you want a space at the chef's counter. Another great place for a special occasion.

        1. re: JAB

          when last i ate dinner at marche moderne, iirc, the tab came in at over $100/pp .
          i think that included one glass of wine between the two of us.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Should be doable at Marche without alchohol.

            1. re: JAB

              iirc, entrees (except for mussels) are $30-$40 or so.
              salads are, for the most part, $13 and higher.
              figuring 30% for tax and tip

              i guess if you ordered water to drink and ordered "carefully," choosing close to the cheapest entree and the cheapest salad, and no dessert, and no coffee. . . . . .

              maybe i'm a pig, but to me,
              1) this would not be enough food
              2) this kind of careful ordering is not very much fun for a celebratory dinner.

              1. re: westsidegal

                >> Should be doable at Marche without alchohol.

                You can eat well for significantly less than that even WITH alcohol.

                I ate at Marche Moderne last week, and we didn't come anywhere near that figure! I'm looking at the receipt right now. The three of us had two starters (chopped salad $13 and octopus $16), three entrees (sweetbreads $34 duck $33 and short ribs $29), two 6-oz glasses of merlot ($13 each), and two iced teas ($2.75 each with free refills), for a total with 8% tax of $169.02 before tip, right around $200 with tip, for three adults. And it was PLENTY of food, even for hearty eaters like us; we were NOT skimping or "careful ordering" in any way. We were just too full for dessert; their plating style gives you numerous vegetables and accompaniments with each item.

                Feel free to review their prices, which are shown on the dinner menu on their website at

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  i yield to your superior knowledge.
                  was working from memory from the last time i was there and it definitely cost more than $100/pp
                  when i went it was two people.
                  we each had a starter (we didn't split like you did)
                  we each had an entree (like you did) but the two of us both had seafood
                  we had three glasses of wine between two people instead of 2 glasses of wine between three people as you did (2 sancerre, and one sauternes
                  we each had dessert and i can't remember if we each had coffee or we each had cappucino.

                  we skipped the side dishes.

                  we didn't feel "too full" at all.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Funny, before you said the two of you split a glass of wine, now you say you had three glasses. Must have been the wine that made you say that. :)

                    A TYPICAL dinner there for really big eaters, without sharing or skimping or ordering the cheapest OR most expensive items, might consist of one appetizer (median price $15), one entrée (median price $30), one dessert ($11), and one 6-oz glass of wine ($13), for a total of $69; add tax and tip and you're around $90 total per person for a full three-course dinner with a glass of wine. Yes, you can order more/pricier items than that (as you did) or fewer/cheaper items than that (as I did), but that $90 is typical and includes a lot of food and a glass of wine (and tax/tip), without skimping in any way. And that's still well under $100+/pp.

                    Those who enjoy more than a glass of wine (and particularly those who enjoy more expensive wine) might want to take advantage of their quite favorable corkage policy ($15 on the first bottle of wine, $25 for each additional bottle, four bottles max), which may keep your overall cost down.

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      re: the wine
                      we each had a glass of Sancerre and split the sauternes.
                      so, it was BOTH. we had our own glass of Sancerre and then, in addition SPLIT the sauternes.

                      "typical" for me, is clearly different from "typical" for you.
                      when i'm in the mode of economizing, i don't go to a place like marche moderne.

                      if i'm at a fine dining restaurant i want seafood. if i have seafood, i want a glass of Sancerre if it's available.

                      i like a couple of cappuccinos with my dessert.
                      these are not "rare" or outrageously expensive items at a place like marche moderne. these are not items like fine caviar nor truffles. we didn't order billecart salmon (sp?). everything we ordered was well within the middle range of their offerings.

                      what relevance does the "median" price of a menu item have in this case?

                      it makes sense that my take on their pricing is different from yours.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        >> we had our own glass of Sancerre and then, in addition SPLIT the sauternes.

                        And previously you said you had "one glass of wine between the two of us", not three glasses split between the two of you. So you are contradicting your previous statement that $100/pp included only one glass of wine for two, not three glasses.

                        >> what relevance does the "median" price of a menu item have in this case?

                        It is the best predictor for most people to understand how much they might pay for dinner at a restaurant, because it's the price of most of the items on the menu, other than a few that are priced much higher and a few others that are priced much lower. These average/median prices are a simple indicator that most folks understand as a guideline to what they *might* pay. Similarly, most folks also understand that they can look at the restaurant's sample menu on their website to get a better idea of how much a restaurant is likely to cost (and whether they are likely to order the most expensive items, like you, or average priced items, like me, or the least expensive items, which are even less).

                        The simple FACT is, anyone who orders one average-priced starter, one average-priced entrée, and one dessert (they're all the same price), plus a moderate-priced glass of wine, isn't going to be paying anywhere near $100/pp. Anyone is welcome to order whatever they want, but when you order the most expensive entrées and lots of expensive wine, please don't imply that that's how much everyone else will pay, because it's just not true.

                        Perhaps the whole idea of typical pricing is difficult or even impossible for you to understand because you apparently prefer to order the most expensive dishes on the menu along with lots of expensive wine, but I can't explain it any clearer than that. I'm sure everyone else reading this already understands that they can have a fine dinner at Marche Moderne for $90/pp or even less, without skimping at all. But if they have any doubts about how much it costs, they can look at the menus and wine list on their website and figure out a tab for themselves based on what they might order, and use that to determine whether or not to dine here.

                        I had an outstanding dinner at Marche Moderne, one of the best on my recent trip to CA. It was priced about the same as most of my dinners at other similarly upscale restaurants; four of the six dinners I paid for were in the $60-80/pp range including tax/tip and moderate alcohol.

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          i look at the entire area under the fat part of the bell as a "fair" description of the prices.

                          i wasn't saying that you COULDN'T have a dinner for under $100/person, but i WAS saying that it certainly IS VERY EASY to spend more than $100/pp there if one is not going to "order carefully" nor split plates nor skip courses nor limit alcohol to one glass of one of their cheapest wines per person (p..s. $13 is not the median price for a glass of wine there).

                          what to you is "not skimping in any way," is to me "absolutely skimping."
                          when i'm in a fine dining restaurant, i seen nothing wrong with ordering every course, ordering san pelegrino water and cappucino, having more than a glass of wine, and ordering anything that is in the middle AREA of the price range for EVERY course and beverage.

                          to find yourself over $100/pp, you don't need to order ANY of the really expensive stuff. hell, even with your analysis, all one needs to do is to add a second glass of wine (or a cocktail before dinner) include tax and tip and you're there.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            >> i look at the entire area under the fat part of the bell as a "fair" description of the prices.

                            True. And the "fat part of the bell curve" is the area where the median prices are. Not where the handful of $40+ entrees are.

                            >> (p..s. $13 is not the median price for a glass of wine there).

                            Actually, to be precise, $14 is. They offer 29 wines by the glass on page 2 of their wine list; fewer than half are more than $14, fewer than half are less than $14. It's clear you love to argue, but I'm surprised you would quibble over a difference of a single dollar.

                            >> what to you is "not skimping in any way," is to me "absolutely skimping."

                            You are welcome to order whatever you like, including the most expensive dishes and wines. But most people would not consider ordering from the "fat part of the bell" - where most of the prices are - to be skimping in any way. I sure don't, and I think it's absolutely ludicrous to claim otherwise.

                            >> hell, even with your analysis, all one needs to do is to add a second glass of wine (or a cocktail before dinner) include tax and tip and you're there.

                            Or, alternatively, if you prefer two glasses of wine each, you can bring a bottle; then, with their favorable corkage policy, you might not be there at all, depending on what you paid for the bottle.

                            Bottom line, you don't have to pay $100 for dinner there unless you want to; you can pay much more than that (heck, they even have a five-course tasting menu for $95, plus $40 for wine pairings) or you can pay much less than that (as we did). And anyone who wants to get an idea of how much Marche Moderne (or any other restaurant) is going to cost, can look at the menu and wine list on their website and figure it out for yourself, based on what YOU would order. Surely that's something we can ALL agree on.

                    2. re: westsidegal

                      Completely agree. We have been to MM many, many times and although we enjoy a cocktail before dinner and a glass or two of wine with dinner, we have never gotten out with a check of less than $100pp and usually quite a bit more. It's a terrific restaurant for celebrating a special occasion, but I'd hate to have to hope that my guest "orders carefully". I love MM, but if I were on a tight budget, I'd likely go somewhere else where it would be easier to keep the cost down.

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            1. I really liked this place in Marina del Rey; they have a really good head chef.

                1. It's most likely going to end up costing more than your stated budget, but my wife and I love Napa Rose (in the Grand Californian hotel / Downtown Disney complex, believe it or not) and have been for quite a few special occasions. Worth the splurge, IMO.

                  Marche Moderne is also an excellent choice for a special occasion. ALTHOUGH, don't expect them to make a fuss about your anniversary. They pretty much refused to acknowledge it during a birthday I had there, and my wife is still bitter. I'm not talking about a Farrell's or Claim Jumper thing here, not expecting the waitstaff to gather around, not a free dessert, but some acknowledgement. At Napa Rose, they'll pipe "Happy ____" on the dessert plate, for example. Here, nada.
                  Maybe this has changed, it's been a few years.

                  For LA, it's been some time now but my wife and I have celebrated at Lucques, on Melrose, and loved that. Budgetwise, it could work for you or come close, depending on alcohol etc.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: mikester

                    Interesting…Marche Moderne has done the most spectular celebrations for us…for birthdays! They can do anything from presenting a very special dessert, or doing a "special no holds barred feast" (at a price!) for any occasion. You must let them know in advance that you'd like this…and if it's a special dessert you'd like, Amelia (the co-owner dessert chef) should be telephoned in advance and will create whatever dessert you'd like!

                    I far prefer MM to the enormous, corporate dining room of Napa Rose which being in Disneyland, is often over-run with children…some wonderfully mannered, others not so much.

                    1. re: josephnl

                      Well, our experiences clearly differ. My wife specifically mentioned that we were celebrating a birthday, ahead of time - and again once we were seated. I've heard others mention the same issue, as well - but again, this may have changed.

                      Re Napa Rose, we've never found it to be "overrun with children" and we've been there quite a few times. And corporate, it just ain't*.

                      On Yelp there are over 1,300 photos of Napa Rose, many are of the beautiful dishes but also a few show the room. IMO, It's a beautiful room.

                      We just disagree about Napa Rose, but I guess that's why there are so many restaurant choices out there. Diff'rent strokes etc.

                      Happy New Year and Happy Dining.

                      * Those Disney nametags aside... :-)

                      1. re: mikester

                        I agree with you about Napa Rose. We have been there many times, and also do not find it "overrun with children" or "corporate". In fact, it is a nice oasis from the rest of the Disney atmosphere, as it is quiet, elegant, and refined.

                        1. re: Michelle

                          Had you been there when we were there last ~3years ago, you would not say so. There were 3 totally undisciplined children running around the restaurant screaming and if the atmosphere had ever been "quiet, elegant and refined", it was certainly not that evening. But thinking back to the only other time we ate there, I can't imagine referring to the restaurant as quiet, elegant and/or refined. I think of NR as an unrefined, corporate restaurant serving mediocre food in an unpleasant space. But what else should one expect in Disneyland!

                          1. re: josephnl

                            I'm sorry you had such an experience, but we will have to agree to disagree on this one! We have had a lovely experience every time we have been there.

                            1. re: Michelle

                              Thanks for your comments. Perhaps I was too harsh in my words, but that's what we experienced. Maybe we should give it another try?