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Nice place that's easy access from Encino?

We've got a friend with excellent taste in restaurants coming to town next week, and he wants to take us out as a thank-you for putting him up. He suggested Bazaar, which is lovely, but really hard to get to from where we live (just north of Encino). Can anyone recommend someplace similar that's easier to get to?

A little research seems to suggest Mistral or Saddle Peak Lodge might be nice. I'm also intrigued by n/naka and Melisse, but they may be pushing the envelope in terms of price. (They are over the hill, but at least right off the 405) Thoughts? Suggestions? We don't go out for very nice meals often, but really appreciate it when we do, and we love tasting menues.

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  1. Minstral is very nice. The Brentwood is just off the 405 and is good and fun

    1. I think you'd be very happy going to Saddle Peak. Plus, it would make for a unique experience for someone from out of town.

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      1. re: Bob Brooks

        Saddle Peak Lodge will not disappoint! Beautiful rustic canyon setting and wonderful food with incredible game meats. They also do a great Sunday Brunch.
        http://www.saddlepeaklodge.com

      2. I should also mention that my friend is from Singapore, and travels to Asia often, so any variety of Asian is gonna have to be really amazing - I'm inclined to steer away from sushi. And hey, what do you all think of Girasol?

        1. I suggest taking your friend to The Factory Kitchen. We have friends who live in your area and they swear it is easier to drive the 101 to DTLA then to the Westside and they are all crazy about The Factory Kitchen as well as Bestia

          1. N/naka is spectacular, but may or may not impress your friend from Singapore. But I would do the 13 course tasting menu with sake pairings if you do.

            Otherwise, Saddle Peak Lodge would definitely be different and interesting for your friend.

            Melisse is very nice and high end fine dining. Probably one of the finest in the city. You won't be disappointed with Melisse, but depending on what day you decide to go, plan on plenty of extra time to get there due to traffic. Your table will be ready even if you are early.

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