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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.

      1 Reply
      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.

      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.

            1 Reply
            1. Shoot - we were all set for Saddlepeak, but they are closed on Tuesdays. What's our next best option?

              3 Replies
                1. re: tfresquet

                  I highly recommend Café Bizou. Mistral has great food but the place is too small (and noisy)for the crowd they get. Aisles are too narrow with waitstaff and diners bumping into your chair as they pass by.

                  1. re: mucho gordo

                    But they are worse at Bizou in all respects.
                    Bizou's food is only so-so, and the ambiance even worse.
                    Mistral wins this battle hands down.

                2. I'd try the Red Room in Encino or maybe (if it's not too crowded) Chablis in Tarzana. The food won't be as expensive as the over the hill spots so you might want to invest in a good bottle or two to bring.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mc michael

                    I like Chablis, and while the food will never be remembered in the same conversation regarding Patina or Melisse, it is consistently good French bistro food served in a very pleasant setting. The owner is seemingly always there, and has some decent wines on the list and some surprises that come from a new shipment, not even yet on the menu.
                    BYO good wine might be the treat, and definitely saves the consternation of that drive over the hill.

                  2. Vibrato at the top of Beverly Glen is easy access from Encino and you get the pleasure of excellent live jazz along with good meat and fish dishes. Lovely ambiance. Definitely feels like an occasion restaurant to me.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: archer

                      Good suggestion. I always forget about Vibrato, and while convenient at Beverly Glen & Mulholland, it seems out of sight, out of mind when thinking of a place better than the average places.
                      If jazz is not your thing, or you would rather not listen to music but just talk, then go earlier as the music will not start until at least 8pm, depending on the night and musicians on the schedule.

                      1. Vibrato Jazz and Grill is pretty cool. Its at the top of Beverly Glen and Mulholland. Owned by Herb Alpert and the Arroyo Chop House folks is a nice evening. Great bar too.