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Where to take my 4 friends in March--my birthday, my treat--Santa Monica, etc.

Should be moderate price, since I plan to treat everybody.

My two favorite restaurants in LA are Providence and Hart and the Hunter I would say. Providence is too expensive for even treating myself LOL (I was just there Monday night for the third time, first time for the 9-course--wow!), and Hart and the Hunter is too far away for a week night from the westside, too noisy and doesn't take reservations. I love their food though.

Have had birthdays at Musha several times in the past and not inclined to go again. Not impressed with Rustic Canyon (and the price is too high).

Last two birthdays have been at Hinoki & the Bird (too expensive, too loud, food way over-rated), and Tar & Roses--enjoyable but uneven.

Even though it's not all that special food-wise (except for the mussels, which I was impressed with) was thinking about Meet in Culver City--have been there only once though. Not so impressed with other dishes I tried, but it's a cute place (if rather small) and fairly reasonable. The Frenchy thing might be festive (and France has been on my mind since I'm starting to plan a trip in the fall).

Other ideas: never been to The Misfit--when I've looked inside walking by I felt like I was definitely about 30 years too old but maybe it would be fun for a smallish group dinner? I'm sure the food is just so-so from reviews I've read. Bar Pintxo--haven't eaten there since the year they opened and they had those horrible high tables and terrible chairs. How's the food lately? Was in Spain last year, so the idea seems fun to me. Taberna Arroz Y Vi around the corner from Pintxo gets bad reviews (and I was not impressed with their so-called tapas my one brief time there).

Have been looking at various lists and sites, and nothing really pops out, so any suggestions/comments are very welcome!

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  1. Was rather disappointed in Meet myself. What's moderately priced for you ($xx/pp)? What about a more family style sharing cuisine like Thai (Night+Market in WeHo if you don't want to trek to Thaitown) or KBBQ (my mod. priced choice is Soowon Galbi, but there's board fave Park's, which is pricier). I'm assuming weekend, but if not, Phorage is doing interesting, very reasonable prix fixe menus (4 courses for $25) on Wed. nights. Here's tonight's menu: http://instagram.com/p/kmwSazzfOg/.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TheOffalo

      Thanks--Meet is only good for mussels IMO (moules marinieres) and for being cute and Frenchified. Want to stay on the Westside for the usual reasons. Where is Phorage--will have to look. Thanks for the link.

    2. I love Suberba Snack Bar on Rose in Venice. Wonderful orginal pasta dishes and reasonable priced.
      http://superbasnackbar.com

      4 Replies
        1. re: wienermobile

          Thanks. I have been to Superba--twice I think. I liked some of the vegetable dishes a lot and really didn't like the crab tagliatelle--way too cheesy and rich for me. What do you recommend there?

          1. re: ThatPat

            Some of the dishes at Superba I like include:
            chicken liver mousse, roasted green apple, rye toast.

            crispy Brussels sprouts, scallions, dashi broth & poached egg.

            cauliflower T-bone, salsa verde & fried olives

            butternut squash custard, black truffle vinaigrette & parmesan.

            octopus bacon, pine nut panna cotta & currant/caper puree.

            tagliatelle, Dungeness crab, uni, wakame & jalapeño miso butter.

            squid ink chitarra, bryan’s chorizo, mussels & heirloom tomatoes.

            and their very rich smoked bucatini carbonara, poached egg, pancetta, pepper & parm.

          2. re: wienermobile

            I also like Superba and had thought of it. I've been twice--thought it was very good the first time and so went back taking a friend and food was much less good--some of it not even hot enough (temp wise) and sloppy service. But some of their vegetable dishes are better than Gjelina IMO. It is pricey, but now we're only 4, so that might be a good choice. Thanks!

          3. Gjelina is another good choice if you can get a reservation.
            http://www.gjelina.com

            1 Reply
            1. re: wienermobile

              Gjelina is just too loud and too hipster for me. But have enjoyed it the couple of times I was there when sitting in the patio and on the early side.

            2. Agree on the Gjelina and Superba Snack Bar rec's, although they can both get pretty loud depending on where you're seated. Salt Air on Abbot Kinney might be fun. Or you could go old school AK with Hal's.

              I've been to Meet multiple times because I have friends who loooove their moules frites, plus it's a convenient meeting spot for people from various parts of town and you can usually get a reservation on short notice. And it is cute and charming, especially on the patio. I'm a non-seafood eater, and the dishes I've had there (chicken, steak frites, salads) were decent but nothing mind-blowing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cookie monster

                Salt Air is a place I need to check out--read the name but don't know much about it. What do you recommend there?

                Hal's wasn't very good the last time I was there, but that was a long time ago.

              2. imho, the food at meet is just not good.
                it isn't bad, but not good either.

                certainly not worth a return trip.
                not worth the calories.
                and, even though reasonably priced, not really worth the money either.

                1. Not sure what "moderate" means, other than cheaper pp than Providence. ;)

                  Flores
                  Javan
                  Waterloo and City
                  Hostaria del Piccolo
                  Fundamental LA

                  My partner and I tried to go to The Misfit once. It was a long wait for a table and so painfully, unbearably loud that we decided to move on....

                  1 Reply
                  1. Osteria Mozza is a pretty good restaurant for a birthday dinner. That's my go to restaurant if Providence or Melisse are out of the picture.

                    Also, Maude should be a good choice as well however I have not been there, although I have a reservation for March 22.

                    1. I enjoyed my meal at Fork in the Road last night. On Main Street just down from The Galley. We had the arugula salad, salmon tartar jar, mussels and short rib ravioli. Liked the ravioli the best but I thought everything was solid. Had a nice malbec to go along with the meal as well. I didn't pay so not sure of the final tab but the prices seemed in line with most small plate type of restaurants. Would be curious to know if others have dined here and what their experience was like. The owner was friendly and came by to chat.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Juji

                        Really good to know about Fork in the Road. This might be the place since it's close for everybody and it's new for everybody. I think it's the former location (a couple of incarnations ago) of the original Gilliland's, but haven't been there. Thanks!

                        1. re: Juji

                          My birthday dinner wasn't until March 22, so I am pretty late in getting back to you, but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed Fork in the Road. Four of us shared four small plates (esp recommend salmon tartar jar and hearts of palm with edamame (IIRC) and two desserts. 3/4 had one glass of wine and bill came to $125 before T/T. Really generous portions, esp. as compared to some of the other small place joints around--i.e, Superba, The Wallace, etc. Liked it so much went back this Saturday with another friend and she was equally charmed. Service is very nice, only down side is noise factor kicks in the later you go--there are a lot of hard surfaces. Pretty deafening by 8 p.m. on a Saturday. But at 6-7:30ish quite acceptable. The menu is big enough and interesting enough that I'd like to go back again soon and try something else. Thanks again for the great tip!

                        2. I would second Hostaria del Piccolo. We really love their pasta dishes and splitting a pizza or two as an appetizer is great and helps keep cost down.

                          The other one that comes to mind is Akasha u=in Culver City

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: jpie

                            Love the pasta at Hostaria del Piccolo but disagree about the pizza. Only had it once (the Testarossa?), and it found very bland and not worth the $. IMO, I would stick to everything else (there's considerable variety even if you eliminate the pizzas).

                            1. re: ilysla

                              agree with ilysia about the "not worth it" pizza at hosteria del piccolo.
                              their pastas, across the board are better than their pizzas.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Had one of the salads (the one w/ the parmesan crisp), 1-2 of the appetizers, and a couple of the desserts. All were very good, so the OP shouldn't worry about having to avoid the pizzas.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  Apparently the pizza at Hostaria (Santa Monica at least) is very typical of Milan, since the owner apparently is from there. I used to take occasional Italian lessons down the street at Funnel Mill coffee with two different Italian guys from Milan (by coincidence), and they both said that Hostaria's pizza is the closest to what you get back home. I think most Americans prefer Neapolitan style pizza (even Florentines prefer it--I was in Florence for a month in '09) or New York style, etc. Anyway, don't eat pizza much at all anymore for dietary reasons. Also looking for someplace new to me and I've been to Hostaria quite a few times, though not maybe in a year or so. But grazie mille for the idea!

                                  1. re: ThatPat

                                    You mean they like their pizzas to be tasteless in Milan? My criticism of their pizzas has very little to do w/ the crust....

                                    1. re: ilysla

                                      Well, this was 2 years ago, so maybe pizzas were better then? Not sure myself. I have not been blown away by Hostaria (only been to Santa Monica location) so haven't been in quite a while.

                                      1. re: ThatPat

                                        Can't recall when I first went to Hostaria.... Perhaps class to 2 yrs ago? At any rate, w/ all the great pizza in this town, it's no loss to have to skip that category there.

                                        But, back to your question, is WeHo too far east? Just went to Connie and Ted's, which was very tasty, but *not* cheap (although certainly not as expensive as Providence). Casual but upscale ambiance, so it'd be appropriate for b-day, I think. Patio was quite nice, and they have heaters.

                            2. Maison Giraud in the Pacific Palisades is a lovely little spot with beautiful and tasty food, prepared by a well lauded and accomplished Parisian Alain Giraud, and its not too pricey either.

                              We had a wonderful roast chicken dinner there last night, the chicken Catherine, named for his wife. You can eat very well there without breaking the bank. Nice wine list too. And though I rarely eat dessert, their pastry chef is wonderful and their breads are baked in house.

                              The space is small, and can get quite loud. There is also patio seating on the sidewalk, and it looked very pleasant out there last night with the heaters on.

                              Here is a review by Kevineats from back when they first opened. http://www.kevineats.com/2011/11/mais...

                                1. Give Spanish tapas another try at Bar Pintxo!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    Did try Bar Pintxo again and the tapas and pintxos were quite decent and made me feel like I was back in Spain (where I spent 3 weeks last October). Would like to go back and try their paella sometime (I think they have some kind of Sunday/Monday paella special going.) Thanks!

                                  2. So the answer to the question of "what restaurant do you recommend" is...have a dinner party?

                                    1. If you love Hart & The Hunter, you might want to check out Willie Jane in Venice (or Post & Beam in Crenshaw, same head chef Govind Armstrong). I think you would like the low-country food there. Sweet tea brined pork chop, shrimp n grits, cheddar biscuits, curry oxtail, brick chicken, and an oatmeal cookie mascarpone caramel sandwich to die for!

                                      1. I was in the same situation in Sept -- was treating about 8 people for my birthday, and wanted it to be reasonably priced. We ended up going to Muddy Leek. We had a table on the patio, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I liked it because everyone was able to find something they liked to eat. The food was good--not knock-it-out-of-the-park amazing, but quite good. And the cocktails are great, and the service is good. I was very happy with my choice.