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Mar 26, 2014 01:11 PM

tavern or bouchon


I'm heading to LA in early April and am looking for advice about where to do a celebration dinner on a Sunday evening. We have 9 people in our group (Mozza was on our list but can't do reservations for groups larger than 8). We are staying in Westwood. Our group has a few people who enjoy nice meals but are sort of picky eaters. I'm a big fan of Suzanne Goin and the menu at Tavern looks perfect. Ideally someplace with great food, not too loud, good for a large group - either close to Westwood or in a neighborhood that we might want to explore after dinner.

Tavern and Bouchon are currently topping our lists. What would you choose? Any other suggestions?

Many thanks.

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  1. I think both are good choices. Both have solid, not extraordinary, food. On food alone, I'd give the edge to Bouchon. But, I do think the neighborhood is a bit more explorable if you do Tavern, as I really like that strip of San Vicente in Brentwood, and you can do drinks across the street at Bar Toscana if you go early (otherwise there won't be room for 9). OTOH, you have exploring options within the Montage complex at Bouchon, including the bar next to Scarpetta, which has loads of comfy seating. Or you can go across street to Penthouse at Mastros, which is a nice place to drink and people watch.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Wayno

      Plus one for Bouchon. Wonderful French bistro food, excellent bar with cocktails, nice wines & champagne, great patio and room, good for celebrations, and STELLAR bakery......

      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

        Going to disagree with you a bit. Bar at Bouchon ,IMHO is not excellent. Drinks are just o.k.Oyster Bar is disappointing. Last week I had the tiniest Kishu oysters ever. I find the menu to be rather limited, Aside from the Moules et frites and Boudin Blanc(both fabulous) there is not one single thing which stands out on the menu, with the exception of some fine desserts/ I love that tart au citron. Service is great as is the bread and butter which is immediately served
        My husband and I had dinner tonight at Tavern and it was excellent. These bartenders make great drinks. My manhattan(s) were perfect. My husband's scallops were perfectly prepared and served with a delicious broth with black rice. My Arctic Char was also beautifully prepared with gingered beets and more. The menu offered so many good choices and I was SO tempted to order the lamb shank because I know that it is delicious and along with the vegetables conveys the essence of spring. We were up for a light meal tonight so no apps and no dessert. Service was superb.

        1. re: maudies5

          Good choice saving the LAMB for next month. ;>)

          1. re: maudies5

            Sounds amazing. We decided on Tavern and this makes me glad I did. The manhattan alone...

            1. re: maudies5

              Well that's fine for you, as you are recalling your experience at Tavern, and I am recalling my experiences at Bouchon, so to each his own.

              You seem to constantly rec all of Suzanne Goin's places and that's all well and good, but based on my own experiences at her places, the service was cold and haughty, we had the waitress and hostess (believe it was Carolyne Styne) argue with my husband who was paying the bill for dinner for six, and therefore I cannot recommend them to anyone. I believe the food is decent, though have also had many friends comment to me that the food has gone downhill at Lucques.... Nonetheless I do not like the FOH and service at both Lucques & Tavern and therefore will stand by my experiences.

              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                Is the larder on burton way good? Any recs there?

                  1. re: jessejames

                    Delicous egg and broccoli breakfast sandwich. Eggs are always well cooked. Also liked the smoked salmon plate although the chow weasels steal my fish. Ditto for the "walnut bundle" and panna cotta to go.

                    1. re: JudiAU

                      Cool. That's walkable for my pack. Gotta check it out.

                  2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                    I agree with you about the FOH and sevice at Lucques and Tavern, though that hasn't been my experience at AOC.

                    1. re: whatsfordinner

                      I cannot comment on AOC as I've never been, and I've actually recently thought about giving them a try when I have relatives in town.

                      But our experience at Tavern was really quite surprising, as I had been before when they first opened and had a nice light meal with a friend in the bar. When we arrived for our business meeting lunch with twelve people, the hostess did not have our reservation in her system. And instead of apologizing and making us feel welcome and invite us into the bar while setting up a table, she made us feel like we were putting her out by arriving for our reservation, and left us, all twelve of us, standing around the tiny area that is their reception desk, awkwardly dodging other patrons arriving and getting seated right away. As you can imagine, that colored the whole meal for us afterward. If it had been a smaller group, we would have left and gone elsewhere, and most assuredly would have been treated better anywhere else in the area. The attitude that you should feel privileged to be dining there is quite palatable.

                  3. re: maudies5

                    Just reread your reply again, and had to note a few things. I find the bar at Bouchon to be beautiful, well stocked and the bartenders and staff in general to be extremely friendly and knowledgeable. I can understand your being disappointed in the size of the oysters you ordered, but that is something to take up with Mother Nature and not the restaurant.

                    The menu at Tavern is certainly not bigger than Bouchon. Tavern has a few more salads listed, but less hors d'oeuvres and no oyster/shellfish bar offerings. This includes Tavern's cheese plate, but Bouchon has a larger selection of cheeses, plus caviar, and a lot more to offer in the way of side dishes, and even a list of dishes with truffles as a special, when in season. Bouchon has more entrees, and IMHO, better prices.

                    The Truite Grenobloise is spectacular, plus they have more than one steak to offer, more than one fish and some very classic French Bistro dishes. The leg of lamb looks wonderful, i think I will try that next time I visit. And you cannot discount the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken dinners they offer twice a month, some very delicious fried chicken. Plus terrines and pates, not to mention the incredible foie gras terrines they used to offer before militant intolerant types shamed Sacramento into outlawing it.

                    And I haven't even gotten to the desserts and baked goods that come from the phenomenal bakery.

                    So all in all, I think Bouchon is a better place, not even touching upon the service issues I've had at Goin establishments. Clearly they are two very different places and to each his own. I happen to think the top down management and expertise of Mr. Keller is miles above that of Ms. Goin.

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      The duck confit appetizer at bouchon a great deal and plenty on its own save room for dessert or liquor. I do miss that fantastic crock of fois gras they used to have.

                1. re: Wayno

                  Or the Regent Beverly Wilshire, Four Seasons or the Polo Lounge......

                2. I happen to love both restaurants. I would give the edge to Tavern for this group. The spring menu has some great dishes, including Suzanne Goin's famous Short Ribs. First time I have seen them on the Tavern Menu, although a staple a Lucques.
                  Bouchon's menu is , IMHO more limited and the cocktails are just so-so. Tavern's bartenders make great drinks. If not too far east, have you considered Sunday Supper at Lucques? It is a prix fixe at 3 course meal for $45.00. Menu generally posts on the Thursday before. I have always found this to be a great deal for exceptionally good food. Also, the patio at Lucques was recently remodeled and is very inviting I could definitely see a party of 9 dining there quite comfortably.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: maudies5

                    I thought about lucques but the limited Sunday menu might be difficult for some in our group. I think tavern might be the best call. Thanks to all for your help. Will report back.

                  2. You might consider Tar & Roses in downtown Santa Monica....make sure you get a table on the back patio....not so noisy. One of the best restaurants on the Westside....lots of variety for every palate...bone in wood fired ribeye is incredible and flash cooked whole fish...lots of intriguing side dishes. They also have 3 or 4 options for family style dinners....perfect for a large group.

                    1. I'd choose Tavern, just because I like i. Solid menu, good service, ver comfortable room.

                      1 Reply
                        1. re: gardengirl

                          Don't forget to order the house made Snickers bar ice cream thing for dessert!!!