Boyfriend is flying in for a visit at the beginning of January, and I've undertaken a gigantic task - to choose the dinner for the first night he's in town.
It's really my own fault for making it so hard - last January, I made reservations at AOC, with which he immediately fell in love. I think I'd read about it as a side note in the LATimes, recognised the chef, and took a chance, although I hadn't heard too much about it at that point. Risk paid off, we now go as often as we can. Similar experience: going to the Minibar at Cafe Atlantico last August. Now, it's more in the news and press, but not when we went.
Basically, I need to do it again. Find a new place for the first night that'll knock his socks off in a similar manner. I just feel so woefully out of the LA dining loop, not having been home since July, and so need help. Since booking his tickets, he has been all, "So, what new restaurants are we going to when I visit?" And now I feel like I need to recreate AOC junior. Oh, the pressure!
The criteria? Hopefully, it's a new restaurant that's opened in the last 6 months or so. Good food, definitely. But something interesting, tapas/small dishes are good, although the menu doesn't have to be exclusively such (ie, restaurants with lots of good appetizers work as well). Anywhere from Venice/Santa Monica to the mid-Wilshire area (take, the Farmer's Market), although Downtown or Silver Lake wouldn't be out of the question. I personally am vaguely fatigued of all the fusion California-European-Asian stuff (like.. Grace. And what Sona sounds like, though I haven't been there yet... went to Spring, in Chicago two months ago, and just hit my limit) but again, am amenable to it. Good service, too, I can't abide bad service, I'm picky. A pleasant atmosphere - there doesn't have to be a scene, though we do enjoy people-watching and making up stories about other diners.
Past restaurants we've adored have been JiRaffe, Grace, Lucques, Campanile, Cafe Blanc, Angelini Osteria, Cobras & Matadors..
Have not tried Josie or Melisse, and would love to, but that's not what I'm looking for right now. Amuse, in Venice, isn't still BYOB, is it? Am going to Luna Park when I'm home for Thanksgiving, so that might be an option. I know that Paladar's been open for a bit now, but I've always wanted to try it. Am interested in Cinch, also.. oh, and Malo. Has Oasis gotten any better?
Opinions on these, or ideas as to other places, would be muchly appreciated.