Who are the Iron Chefs of Los Angeles?
November 17, 2008 9:54 PM   Subscribe

The smithmac family will be spending 9 days in Los Angeles in December. Since we'll have a few nights with free babysitting in the form of grandparents, I'd like to have 1 really nice evening out with my wife. To give you an idea of what we're looking for, I was thinking of trying out chef Eme's Ortolan. I've never been there, but his food looks amazing. So, L.A. mefites, if you could choose one restaurant in Los Angeles to eat at what would it be?
posted by smithmac_99 to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Food critic god Jonathan Gold's annual list of 99 Essential L.A. Restaurants came out this week.

I'm pretty new to town myself, so I don't have many opinions on nice joints, but I will say that the tasting menu at Spago is extraordinary.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:19 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

I know it isn't a five star or anything impressive like that, but if I could eat anywhere in LA, I would eat at Pomodoro Trattoria in Westwood. It is a small (10 - 15 tables) Italian restaurant with an amazing gnocchi selection (try the Gnocchi Caprino.) I strongly advise making reservations though.
posted by schyler523 at 10:30 PM on November 17, 2008

Providence, no question.
posted by np312 at 10:40 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

providence +1
posted by thedaniel at 10:47 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've preferred my meals at Sona, Providence, and Hatfield's to the ones I've had at Ortolan. Lucques is regularly outstanding and stands at the top of the list, actually. Those would be my choices for more adventurous, intriguing culinary meals, as opposed to more standard food like can be found at Osteria Mozza, Jar, Comme Ca, Cut, so on and so forth. Spago is a classic, but it's also a bit of a cliche.

Do make sure to make reservations, of course.
posted by incessant at 10:51 PM on November 17, 2008

My partner and I just ate at Ortolan for the first time Friday night. We went for the ten course menu and it was pretty amazing, if a bit show-offy (four of the dishes featured emulsions). WATCH OUT FOR THE WINE. I thought I was playing it safe by ordering a half-bottle and suffered a bit of sticker shock when the bill came.

Slightly cheaper, but still experimental and more "L.A." – in the best possible sense – Hatfields. I love it.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:32 PM on November 17, 2008

Oh, Lucques is fantastic. And AOC...although everyone's over small plates now.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:34 PM on November 17, 2008

Palate is the new hotness, but I haven't eaten there yet. Small plates; heavy focus on wine.

Providence would be a pretty much unimpeachable choice.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:11 AM on November 18, 2008

WATCH OUT FOR THE WINE. I thought I was playing it safe by ordering a half-bottle and suffered a bit of sticker shock when the bill came.

They have prices on the wine list? That's obnoxious.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:14 AM on November 18, 2008

They don't have...
posted by mr_roboto at 6:15 AM on November 18, 2008

Home. Home. Home. I could go on for ages about how delicious and wonderful it is - I know you're probably thinking about something a bit more fancy fancy, but, honestly, Home is so nice and cozy and romantic, it makes up for any za-za that you're looking for otherwise.
posted by banannafish at 7:21 AM on November 18, 2008

Providence is also my favorite in town for fine dining. Ortolan is quite good too, and very inventive, though it's a bit too French for my tastes. The Spago tasting menu is always an experience, and I've always enjoyed chatting with Wolfgang who seems to personally serve a plate or two each time I've been. Others to consider researching not yet mentioned or of note include Melisse, Lucques, Grace, Patina, Water Grill, Valentino, Il Grano, Cut, Craft, and Joe's. Michael Mina's XIV is the new hotspot in town where you design your own tasting. And since someone mentioned it already, Hatfield's is also great and a pretty good deal too (here are some photos of my last tasting menu there).

All that said, if you want an experience you'll never forget, the choice is simple among foodies here -- Urasawa.
posted by drpynchon at 7:52 AM on November 18, 2008

Joe's in Venice is great, as is Mozza. Angeli Caffe has great Thursday night family style dinners or the grilled cheese night at Campanile is equally as wonderful too. Maybe not exactly what you are looking for but these are good dining options and experiences you would only get in LA.
I would go Providence if you want a very nice dining experience, as aforementioned by others.
You might want to check the LA boards at chowhound.
posted by bookshelves at 8:46 AM on November 18, 2008

All of the above are wonderful...but if you want an experience as well as a meal, Gordon Ramsay's place in Hollywood is fabulous...great food, small plates, order as much or as little as you'd like, they bring them out in the order that makes the most sense so with 7 of us, even where our choices overlapped we didn't always get them at the same time.

It's decidedly NOT a Ramsay restaurant (I've eaten at Claridges in London) not nearly as classic and timeless and elegant...much more LA, but the food is unreal.
posted by legotech at 10:08 AM on November 18, 2008

Seconding Urusawa, and Sona is fun too.
posted by Joh at 10:44 AM on November 18, 2008

Bananafish, do you mean Home the restaurant in Los Feliz? Because if you do, you must be high. That place was just declared a superfund site. I've had goiters that were more pleasureable. The only thing they serve that's edible is the check. Hey-oh!

So, yeah, don't go to Home in Los Feliz. Please.

On a less-snarky point, Ramsay's place in LA is fair-to-middling in my opinion.
posted by incessant at 10:48 AM on November 18, 2008

I was disappointed by Grace and Campanile. I found the service bad at both places, and at Campanile my steak arrived stone-cold. Neither place's food was very memorable to me, so I won't be going back. Then again, that's just my one opinion based on one experience at each place.

Joe's is always great and I go there all the time, but for super-duper fine dining I would still go with Providence. (Joe's is more like the dependably good, slightly expensive place you go to when you need a sure-fire enjoyable and interesting meal. But it sounds like you're looking for a mind-blowing culinary experience, price not as important, and for that category I would bump it up a notch.)

AOC was very worthwhile, but all those little plates do add up to an expensive dinner. I'd say the same for Gjelina's in Venice.
posted by np312 at 12:43 PM on November 19, 2008

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