Melisse (Santa Monica, CA)

Melisse
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 1/24/14

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Melisse, like the restaurant of my last post Providence, is oft-considered one of the best restaurants in the city for its French-Californian cuisine. It’s truly one of the few refined fine dining destinations that has survived through all the food trends Los Angeles has seen since it’s opening in 1999. Like Providence, Melisse garnered 2 Michelin stars in the last guide; while I have been familiar with Providence ever since it opened, my first visit to Melisse didn’t come until a relatively late 2010. I’ve now had a few meals here (including a very memorable Farewell to Foie last year) and have thoroughly enjoyed them.

The impetus for this dinner was the restaurant’s participation in dineLA’s new $85 price level, an opportune time for 4 friends’ first visit. As with many dineLA options I wondered – what type of meal would Melisse provide at this lower price point? Would it still reflect a ‘regular’ Melisse experience? I was pleasantly surprised on both counts.

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Providence (Los Angeles, CA)

Providence
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 1/16/14

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I’ve generally considered Providence one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles since it opened in 2005. I first had chef Michael Cimarusti’s food at downtown’s Water Grill in college and followed him here. This was my fifth visit overall, but my first in about 3.5 years. I’m not totally sure what took me so long to return, but part of it was the fact that my last two visits didn’t live up to the high expectations created by the first two. Providence is consistently in the conversation of top special occasion fine dining restaurants in the city, so it’s a place I like to stop in every so often.

Cimarusti has been a busy man since my last visit and has presumably spent progressively less time in this kitchen, especially with the opening of Connie & Ted’s last year.

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A number of menu options are available. A three course a la carte is $95, while 5-course and 9-course market tasting menus are $105 and $140, respectively. At the highest end, a chef’s tasting menu is available at $195 per person. We stuck to middle ground, ordering the 9 course market menu.

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Ohshima (Orange, CA)

Ohshima
1956 N Tustin St
Orange, CA 92865
Dining date: 12/21/13

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Ohshima is one of Orange County’s notable and more popular sushi shops. I’ve had very limited forays into the OC sushi scene, but what I’ve found is some high quality sushi at some very reasonable prices. This was my second visit to Ohshima’s unassuming location in an Orange strip mall.

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The menu setup is a little unique. Bar seats come with a mandatory eight-piece omakase; the rest of the meal is supplemented by a wide a la carte menu. Sushi, separated between ‘Japan-originated’ and ‘Other’ is available as well as a selection of hot and cold plates. Diners can customize the meal to be sushi-only or feature a little bit of everything. We went for a meal that was primarily sushi but added a few hot bites. I definitely dig the flexibility.

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Bestia (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

Bestia
2121 7th Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dining date: 8/17/13, 11/8/13, 1/3/14

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Bestia has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in the city with its delicious Italian food. I’m not the only one that’s visited regularly as the restaurant seems to be packed night-in and night-out for those stopping in for Ori Menashe’s food, wife Genevieve’s desserts, or Julian Cox’s cocktails. Maybe even all three.

I’ve dined at Bestia every couple of months; my first post covered my first three meals while this one recaps my last three visits. Each time, we’ve ordered a mix of ‘old’ favorites and new ones, slowly making our way through the ever-changing seasonal menu.

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Terroni Downtown (Los Angeles, CA)

Terroni Downtown LA
802 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 11/16/13

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Terroni has been on my list of restaurants to try for some time now. I first tried a sampling of the restaurant at The Taste 2011, where they were making a selection of their pastas fresh on the spot. The Toronto-based chain has had a location opened on Beverly in mid-city for a number of years, but recently opened up in a huge space downtown.

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My visit to Terroni was unplanned. Initially, we were planning to visit new ‘Chinese gastropub’ Peking Tavern but found it closed for a private party. Terroni shares the same building so it was an easy choice for an alternative stop. Given it was noon on a weekend, Terroni was serving up their brunch menu. I don’t like eating brunch as my first visit to a restaurant, but they still offered their extensive full menu (a long list of appetizers, salads, pastas and pizzas).

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The Spice Table (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

The Spice Table
114 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 12/14/13

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The Spice Table opened about two and a half years ago and quickly made its mark on the city being named one of the city’s best new restaurants by a handful of publications. Its most notable accolade was when chef Bryant Ng was named a 2012 Best New Chef by Food & Wine, propelling him and the restaurant into national awareness. While the restaurant still feels relatively new, it will be meeting a sad and unique demise at the end of the year to pave the way for a new metro station.

I revisited the restaurant one last time to sample Ng’s fiery Southeast Asian flavors. Influences from all around Asia can be found on The Spice Table’s menu, as well as a small but well-curated craft beer list (and wines!) featuring local brewers.

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