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Fun anniversary dinner for less sophisticated foodies

I've been through every anniversary dinner thread so please don't link them below unless you think that I missed something important. If you're annoyed that someone is starting another "anniversary dinner recommended" thread, then just ignore me.

I want to go out to dinner tomorrow night to celebrate my 6th wedding anniversary. I waited to long to get a reservation cause I have no idea what to choose.

I'm intimidated by all these tasting menu places because even though I'm a bit of a foodie, I'm more of one in the sense that I love food, not the type with a super refined palate.

But. We would love to go to a really nice restaurant as long as it's fun and the food is delish, and I'm not afraid to dress up.

I guess I'm not even really sure what I'm asking. Can anyone help me decide where to desperately try to book tomorrow evening for my anniversary?
Hatfields is one I keep coming across but I see a lot of recommendations without much info.

Oh and Los Angeles/ Orange County areas are fine, I'm kind of in the middle.

Thanks in advance and I promise to report back in exchange for anything you throw at me.

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  1. What is your budget. Is there a type of food you like or don't like. and how far do you want to drive?

    Some of my favorites for special occasions include rustic Saddle Peak Lodge in Malibu Canyon, Nobu Malibu, any of the Mozza's and Providence.

    Happy Anniversary!

    2 Replies
    1. re: wienermobile

      I like all kinda of food, husband is only slightly pickier but adventurous.
      Budget is 75-80pp, but we always go over.
      I'm intrigue by SPL and I think that's about the longest drive we could handle.

      1. re: iheartcooking

        The Food and setting at Saddle Peak are wonderful. Best Game meats in LA. The Elk is incredible (also a Wild Game Trio – the chef’s sampling of three different game meats) They do offer a tasting menu for $105 per person.
        http://www.saddlepeaklodge.com

        1. re: cls

          Thanks. We tried animal for an anniversary a few years back (also a chowhound Rec) so I know you're on the right track. Thanks everyone.

          1. re: iheartcooking

            If you liked Animal you might like their sister seafood restaurant Son of A Gun. Very Casual and Not that romantic but wonderful food.
            http://sonofagunrestaurant.com

        2. I think one of the first things to consider for an anniversary dinner is you want a pleasant atmosphere where you can hear each other. This disqualifies a lot of the hot places in LA, including the Mozzas, Bestia, Hinoki and the Bird, and others.

          Here are some suggestions (in no particular order):

          1. Michael's in Santa Monica. Beautiful place, good food, amazing patio. This isn't foodie heaven but everything is quite good.

          2. Nobu Malibu. I saw this was suggested above, but if you like raw fish, it's very elegant and everything is very good. And the views are something else.

          3. Melisse. If you guys like French food, this is probably my top pick. Nothing here is that "challenging" to eat, it's just sophisticated French food, which tends to be creamy, buttery, and rich.

          4. Angelini Osteria. Still my favorite Italian place in LA, much more intimate and relaxing as compared with the new, bustling places.

          5. Cut in Beverly Hills. Always easy to forget this one, but if money isn't a concern, this place is great. It's a steakhouse, but there are money dishes here. The $20/ounce steak is particularly memorable, but so are a lot of their appetizers--the steak sashimi salad, pork belly, and some of the vegetable dishes are really excellent. Plus you get to go to the Beverly Wilshire.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Haeldaur

            These are fine suggestions. The only issue is availability at this date. Good luck.
            Lucques is nice too, but what's the availability? Hello, open table.

            1. re: Haeldaur

              Wow super helpful! Time to call around and try a little kindness and charm and see if it works!

              1. re: Haeldaur

                If you wish to talk with your loved one, forget about CUT. You will certainly need to shout above the music/din.

                Reading the op, I think Michael's patio is spot on! Beautiful and romantic setting. Very good food with a menu that's very accessible and should appeal to most palates.

              2. Call n/naka and make a reservation.

                Like now.

                6 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      The AmEx concierges can help with last-minute reservations, if you have access to them...

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Out of curiousity, how do you pronounce "n/naka"? I've always wondered!

                      2. To those who have been, would MB Post fit the OP's criteria?

                        I've not been myself (obviously), but it seems to get recommended a lot here. Geographically, it would fit your criteria.

                        Went to Superba Snack Bar for the first time last night and loved it, but I think it might be too casual (and perhaps noisy) for an anniversary?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ilysla

                          The problem with MB Post is this late you would probably have to sit at a communal table. Other wise it would be great.

                          Ilysia try the new Superba Food & Bread on Lincoln. You will really like it but they don't take reservations. The Sunday night Fried Chicken special is wonderful.

                          1. re: wienermobile

                            Is the fried chicken the same one they serve at the snack bar? We had it last night, and it was DELICIOUS. But btw that and that fried rabbit at Flores, I'm all tapped for fried meat this month! ;) ::snort::

                            1. re: ilysla

                              No it's different more traditional. Only $20 for full dinner

                        2. Do you have a specific budget?

                          Without knowing that, my recommendations of anniversary worthy restaurants would be:

                          Tasting Kitchen
                          Spago
                          Hotel Bel Air
                          Culina
                          WP24
                          Saddle Peak Lodge
                          Restaurant in the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel
                          Restaurant in the Montage
                          Restaurant in the Terranea resort, Palos Verdes

                          Good luck & Happy Anniversary!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                            nice list -- in particular culina or wp24 for me. Both seem to fly beneath the hound radar somehow.

                            some may disagree but Hotel Bel Air (and BH Hotel/Polo Lounge) is on the 'do not fly' list for this hound based on the sultan of Brunei's unfortunate policies...

                            1. re: jessejames

                              Agree with the boycott of Hotel Bel Air and BH Hotel. Most of Hollywood now avoids them both like the plague. The City of Beverly Hills has even requested that the sultan please sell them.

                          2. DH and I like to go to good restaurants, but he's allergic to shellfish and also does not care for French food, so we tend to avoid the French selections, or places that are shellfish heavy.

                            We love Saddle Peak Lodge, but we've never gotten out of there for $75/pp. They have a great wine selection so we always end up ordering a nice bottle of wine to go with our meal.

                            We like Morton's and Maestro's if we want to go the "big hunk o meat" route.

                            We like Rivera for upscale Latin food, and they do offer tasting menus from time to time. We're planning on trying Fig & Olive this month.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                Food at Fig & Olive is quite good, but noise can be deafening. If you prefer a slightly quieter environment ask to be seated in the atrium. Also, F & O has perhaps the most ridiculously overpriced wine list around. If you enjoy wine with dinner, I'd strongly recommend looking into their corkage policy.

                              2. we did boiling crab one year, it was great (around the 5-6 year mark).

                                for the 2 of us we ordered 2 pounds crawfish, pound shrimp, fries, dungeness, blue crab, AND oysters. for <$100.

                                I think the waitresses thought we were fucking crazy.

                                  1. Some more suggestions:

                                    Tar & Roses
                                    Rustic Canyon
                                    Salt Air
                                    Connie & Ted's
                                    and Maude (if by some miracle they had a cancelation).

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: wienermobile

                                      The noise is deafening at Rustic Canyon. Definitely not on my short list for a romantic anniversary celebration.

                                      1. re: maudies5

                                        I think the noise is fine till around 8pm….

                                        1. re: maudies5

                                          It is also deafening at Connie and Ted's; we left the noise chaos absolutely 'exhausted'

                                        2. re: wienermobile

                                          I walked by by Tar & Roses last wk on Fri or Sat and the place was packed to the gills (or, at least, so it seemed).

                                          I liked Connie and Ted's, but don't know if that might be too casual for the OP?

                                        3. not as formal as you seem to be suggesting, but how about BARNYARD in venice?

                                          for more formality, but i'd characterize it as "civilized" rather than "fun" would be CATCH in casa del mar hotel.

                                          for fun/beachy and probably too informal for you, PLAYA PROVISION just opened in playa del rey.

                                          1. The garden room at Lucques is lovely and the food is outstanding. Ask for a booth. Very very romantic. Happy anniversary.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: maudies5

                                              A great choice! For me, an anniversary dinner must be somewhere romantic, and at least somewhat intimate where tables are not jammed together and the ambiance is quiet enough to speak comfortably. I think the garden at Michael's in Santa Monica fits this bill, but the food at Lucques is better. If the garden room at Lucques is reasonably quiet and comfortable, it sounds like a perfect recommendation! If so, I'd look not further and go there!

                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                Thanks to everyone who made recommendations. I ended up going to Michael's in Santa Monica which I believe two of you recommended, and it was great! We had a great experience all around. Including tooling around Sur la Table for a few minutes before going in. The place doesn't look like much on the front, I could see you living in the area and passing it a million times without investigating. The dining room and garden was stunning.
                                                Our table was in a really awkward spot, as though they had added a table were originally there wasn't supposed to be any, right in a walkway. That ended up being a good thing as servers couldn't help but Pass us and even people who didn't have our table would check on us and bring us what we needed.

                                                We had the waffle chicken wings, cheese plate, and beet salad, all very tasty but I found the cheese plate the tastiest. My husband loved the wings which surprised me because I am the wing eater of the two of us.
                                                For dinner he had the duck and I had mussles. They were great, but came with a big bowl of broth and two tiny crostini. I politely asked my server when he came by to bring me a hunk of French bread and he tried to upsell me the focaccia which is fine. But then this other guy, not dressed like a server so maybe a manager? Told him "she wants to mop up the jus, I can go get her some French bread." And they brought me a big hot chunk of bread. I was delighted.
                                                The owner of the restaurant came around and introduced himself at our table and several others. Nice touch, I don't know if this is common in high end restaurants.

                                                Truly, thank you everybody I wish I could have tried all these places. It was a lovely time.

                                                1. re: iheartcooking

                                                  Thanks for reporting back. This is what makes Chowhound work. Happy Anniversary.

                                                  1. re: iheartcooking

                                                    If you think the space is unassuming from the outside now, you should have been there when it was home to Ye Mucky Duck. Pretty good fish and chips.