I try not to burden the board with these sorts of personally-particularized "help I need something new" posts--I feel I ought to be able to solve them myself with the help of the vast resources available--but today I am sort of stuck.
I have never been one to make a big deal about Father's Day (or my birthday for that matter) but now that my mother-in-law has moved to Westwood Village from New Orleans, she has offered (one might almost say "demanded") to take us out tomorrow for early dinner. She wants me to choose. Oh, the pressure! Now I must come up with a place that meets the following criteria:
1. For my mother-in-law: (a) full bar is a real plus--she is much easier to get along with when she has a good martini in her hand. (b) Also, the place should be nice enough to make her feel like she is living up to her social duties. (c) Oh, and she hates vegetables so it had better offer up some decent meat.
2. But it can't be TOO nice, certainly not stuffy, because the rest of us really don't want that and anyway it must be suitable for PayOrPlay Jr. He is much easier to get along with at restaurants these days, but those of you who have met him know that POPJr. can be sweet and charming and smiley but also loud and with the limited attention span you'd expect from an energetic Pokemon-obsessed 4-1/2 year old, so it has to be somewhere lively enough to keep him interested and also where other tables won't mind if he starts fiddling with a bag of Zoobs (this year's surrogate for tinkertoys).
3. But the food has to be good, really good, or Cynaburst and I will be miserable and what's the point of that?
4. Previous successes for this motley group have included (a) Daily Grill, La Serenata Gourmet, Hop Li, 26 Beach; (b) less good but fine: Maria's on Pico, Wood Ranch: (c) Juniors, Nate-N-Al's, Blue Marlin, Jack Sprats, Koreatown Galleria, etc. but these aren't "nice" enough to satisfy criterion #1(b) above).
5. Less successful prior experiences: Tengu in Westwood (chosen by mother-in-law who had been there before, but the rest of us thought the food was mediocre and the service weird); Sawtelle Kitchen (not sure why, but the setting just didn't work at all for this group); some other mediocre sushi place in Westwood whose name I don't remember.
6. We have a tendency to go back to the same places (see #4 above) and as designated family Chowhound I feel some pressure to come up with something different, albeit still appropriate.
7. Westside-ish is better but not essential. Preferably not in Westwood itself just because it would be nice to get M-I-L out of her neighborhood a little. Also preferably a place without mega-waits to try all of our patiences. (We've already been to The Counter this weekend--had to check out that apple-pie milkshake--so I dunno how much waiting we have left in us!)
8. OK, it's probably hopeless and I already feel better just for venting, but if anyone can come up with a good "new" suggestion sort of in the vein of the ones in 4(a), we'll be sure to offer you a toast with Cynaburst's Mother's Martini.