Planning on a special occasion meal sometime next year in LA area, plus perhaps a few not as fancy but worth the while.
Saam at The Bazaar by José Andrés
Sushi Ginza Onodera should be on my radar as well by then.
What would be the equivalent of a wonderful special occasion dining experience to San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn, The Restaurant at Meadowood, Saison, Keiko A Nob Hill, Aziza (tasting menu), Acquellero (just a short list of what I would and really enjoy)?
Am I missing any others worth a spin for a special occasion unique experience? Melisse? Saint Frank?
Saddlepeak lodge is a fun experience for a special occasion and to pop some special bottles of wine but a pain in the ass too…i cant say the food as as good as the others u mentioned but it’s different. Me, not a huge fan of providence…i know reasonable minds can differ.
But, I think Saam to Saison is very distant comparison indeed. I did Saison a couple times around the time I did é by Jose Andres (yes it’s not Saam but that and Bazaar Meat gave me a feeling for Andres’s cooking, especially because the menus share similar items), and their approach to food is very, very different. é was more akin to Atelier Crenn - more trompe l’oeil and diorama-esque (not being condescending here, but that’s the first word that came to mind, as you eat fairly literal scenes of a “forest” and courses with pun-like descriptions). Saison and Meadowood have much more “natural” style of cooking; even though it’s very meticulous, it has a certain purity and apparent simplicity about it. Because of their emphasis in using their hearth and garden, respectively, I don’t think they really have any real analogues in LA.
Perhaps Orsa & Winston? I don’t know. Maybe others can chime in on here. I’ve not been captivated by Josef Centeno’s cooking, and it seems kind of random, but some of the pictures look nice. Not sure if it’s what you’re looking for, but it may be another option.
LA has good high-end but it’s not it’s strongest point. SF Bay Area, while it doesn’t have the breadth of other cuisines that LA offers, has better high-end dining. With that said, you can certainly have a very good fine meal down in LA. My best bet for you, KK, is n/naka or Providence. I’ve had some very high-highs at both of those. Essentially, each of the high-end places listed has its own merits, feeling, positives, etc, etc. but if you’d like a comparison, my last few at Providence were closest to the impression I got from Quince and Acquerello. They’re different, of course, but that’s the best comparison I can draw from those listed.
kevin - Sushi Ginza Onodera is currently scheduled for February 2016.
At this rate I’m just looking for maximum satisfaction level, and is the food any good, bottom line. Solid personable service and atmosphere, good beverage selection, are of course all pluses. It won’t bother me that the fine dining scene is probably a bit more sophisticated in some aspects when factoring in Sasion, Meadowood, and quite a number of other places in SF.
I’ve eyed Providence for quite a while now. Seems more like a far superior version to The Sea by Alexander’s in Palo Alto, particularly on the seafood themed dishes which works great. Sorry for using The Sea as a comparison, probably not fair, but it gives me an idea. Definitely a very safe and sound suggestion.
n/Naka - we already had Shunji and Mori on the last trip, and n/Naka I almost made the reservation but didn’t want to overload on Japanese. I must say the Netflix episode didn’t really show anything compelling nor did it make me really want to go, but after seeing more recent photos on social media, it’s intriguing enough just to keep an open mind and check it out. I just don’t quite see eye to eye as calling the cuisine “modern kaiseki” but as a descriptor it works generically. Perhaps “modern Southern California style hybrid kaiseki” works better? If anything I wouldn’t want the nigiri course (Kappa San Francisco now has a nigiri course as part of their ko-ryori offering, but it’s the fugliest looking trio I’ve seen…salmon, hamachi, and I think unagi).
Saam at The Bazaar by José Andrés - For those who have been to Saam, would it compare or be somewhat similar to Vasco in Hong Kong which was my only Spanish/Basque Ferran-esque meal? Here’s one early review of the restaurant online
Having read through the thread thus far, I’ll add to the litany of voices agreeing that true high-end fine dining is NOT L.A.'s strong suit.
And I will venture to go out on a limb and recommend that you try Saam at Bazaar. I did their tasting menu last year, and frankly it was one of the best meals that I’ve had all year. And I found it better than é in Las Vegas.
Maude is getting "shtick"y (for lack of a better descriptor) IMHO, at this point.
Though I’ve not done Vasco in HK, local friends there in whose tastes I trust who have gone to Vasco (and BTW have also dined at Saam Bazaar) have told me the food is not as good as Saam.
Providence merits it’s own point in this discussion. Back when Michelin was still rating L.A., Providence had 2 stars. But the consistently excellent output from its kitchen, day after day, cannot be denied. Some of us on this L.A. board will say we are “jaded” to Providence, but in all honesty we’re jaded only because it’s such a “go-to” restaurant for people wanting a great dinner, without fail.
So yes - DO try Providence. Just don’t expect much in the ways of overtly molecular theatrics.
There has been lots of mention of Providence in this post which we always enjoy, but our other higher end choice tends to be Patina. It is definitely less hip than other choices, but I think it is a pretty room with very good service and food. That combination, plus beautiful plating and other touches makes it feel “fine dining” to me.
For anyone who is interested, Patina’s periodic Saturday learning sessions in their kitchen are fantastic. It is demonstration and some hands on instruction, plus lunch and wine.
Yes, but that’s kind of a given. Tokyo might have the highest concentration of truly first class restaurants in the world. LA has nice, but not true destination-worthy or world-class fine dining. But if one sets his/her expectations accordingly, goes in looking to have a good solid meal with good company, he/she can have an enjoyable time even if an impressive dish or wow moment is rather rare (or sustaining the high-highs with consistency, which is perhaps an even better mark of a good high-end meal). It certainly could be worse, and in the national scale of things, LA is still top 5 cities in the US for fine dining, probably. It’s kind of like sushi in SF - yes you may not get the very best the country has to offer at any given time, but you can still have a good, solid, enjoyable meal that might pleasantly surprise from time to time. Of course it’s not like Tokyo, though. It’s all about expectations.
Melisse’s food reminds me of Vintage Cave’s - good execution and there’s talent there, but it’s a little boring for fine dining (on the other hand, most of “fine dining” in the US is maybe boring)? Sometimes I do wish that LA had an exciting world-class fine dining restaurant, but I often go to LA to hit up solid go-to’s for ethnic foods or for specific dishes.