StevenCinNYC's Profile

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NYC visit October

Most good NYC restaurants accept reservations. Some of the most popular book up way in advance (Eleven Madison Park, for example). Most people use OpenTable to make reservations: http://www.opentable.com/new-york-cit...

Some very popular, trendy, or casual restaurants don't accept reservations or don't honor the reservations they accept, making people wait. I don't go to these restaurants (or don't go more than once if I am not forewarned).

People seem to have lower expectations for certain kinds of restaurants, among them some of the restaurants in Harlem. Some of the new restaurants in Harlem have much better service and higher quality food. Dinosaur BBQ is a good BBQ chain, and they have good service. Harlem Tavern is pretty good, too. Depending on the kind of BBQ you like, you may prefer Blue Smoke which also has a great jazz club downstairs called The Jazz Standard (separate reservations, most of the upstairs menu is available). Virgil's also does a great brisket though it's one of the places that makes you wait for a table. Hill Country BBQ is largely self-service, but it's still fun and good food. They do accept reservations as I recall.

Also, if you're interested, Blue Smoke has great burgers (I think they are not on the menu in the jazz club, but I believe they will serve if requested). Other great burgers are at Rare burger (several locations, generally easy to get a table) and MIntetta Tavern (one location, need to reserve way in advance unless you want to eat early or late).

We're having a mild September. Highs are varying between 70 and 80 though generally around 70. Lows around 55-60. Maybe not so different from where you are?

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Yes!

Sep 21, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Skippy!

Sep 20, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks. Yes, I'm a big fan of innovative, but only when it works. I learned to appreciate it in Barcelona where they have a very sensual approach to food. Somehow in the US, it gets a bit too intellectual at some spots so that they do things that are really interesting to hear about but not necessarily great to eat. In NYC, we have WD-50 which epitomizes that problem. RM seems somewhere in between. That halibut and the Redwood Ice were really great, but, as you say, hits and misses. What got me though was the complete lack of creativity on the "chicken dumplings" which were a total lift of standard Vietnamese fare--not just a miss, but not even trying and totally misnamed. And that beef dish was the other problem--totally creative and interesting, but not so good to eat. The server was also totally useless. She kept telling us that she's a foodie, we could close our eyes and choose any four items on the menu and not go wrong, and she also said, it's just food so don't worry about it. She knew the food, but she didn't bother to know or listen to us, just delivered her pat lines which were totally hollow and useless. A place like that, they should be ready to serve as bushwhacking guides, helping us appreciate the menu and find our way to what we would enjoy most.

We had a similar problem with the service at Corton here--they'd bring these super complicated dishes on multiple plates, sprinkle, ladle, and replate them, and then just walk away. I had no idea what I was eating. It was complicated and overwrought, and the servers did nothing to help the diners navigate the complex food.

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

It turns out that our friends are friends with him so he very graciously gave us a tour. His house is incredible, and he is the nicest person. I have to say that I never interact with celebrities, and he was so kind and down to earth. It was a very special part of the trip, plus his home blew me away.

Sep 19, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks. I was grateful for all the advice and wanted to follow up.

We did have a very good time eating. Only Geoffrey was really disappointing.

The LA Conservancy tours were great. The Deco tour was the best. Our tour guide, Robin Holding, was spectacular. She spent extra time giving us advice and showing us more stuff after the tour. We spent parts of two days visiting the places she recommended. I really want to do their Historic Theater tour to get inside some of these great old theaters. The Biltmore hotel tour was good, too, but the Deco tour was much better, esp Robin.

Here are the photos from the trip if you're interested: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevenc...

I actually have a long list of things that we didn't do. I've pasted it below.

Thanks again!

Steven

Restaurants we didn’t try: Comma Ca, Plan Check, Post & Beam, Sycamore Kitchen, Milo and Olive, Hinoki and The Bird, Gjelina (Kara recommended), Willie Jane

Pacific Dining Car (locations in Santa Monica and downtown): 24 hour place Kara recommended. Dine in train cars. Breakfast all day. Pancakes looked really good (banana pecan).http://www.pacificdiningcar.com/locat...
Pancakes article: http://www.laweekly.com/squidink/2012...

1. GOOD TIMES AT DAVEY WAYNE’S: 80s place recommended by Kara’s younger colleagues, secret entrance with retro feel
Straight out of The Brady Bunch set, this bar not only has the most epic secret entrance, but it's hooked up with hammocks, outdoor couches, an Airstream Trailer bar, and a DJ spinning beats on top of a retro, '50s TV table. Basically, this is your new home.
1611 N El Centro Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028http://www.thrillist.com/drink/los-an... http://www.thrillist.com/drink/los-an...

Pasadena:
Norton Simon
Huntington Collection, Library, and Gardens.
Gamble House.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Hollyhock House: http://www.barnsdall.org/visit/hollyh...

LA Conservancy The Broadway Historic Theatre and Commercial District tour explores the social, cinematic, and architectural history of this unique street.
https://www.laconservancy.org/events/... Schedule: Every Saturday Time: 10 a.m.

Doheny Mansion.Greystone http://www.beverlyhills.org/exploring...

Guides to Abbot Kinney Blvd, trendy Venice shopping and eating area: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/guide/...

Hearst Castle (San Simeon
)Griffith Park and Observatory
Topanga Park?
Runyon Canyon?
Balboa Park?
The Japanese Garden?
Walt Disney Concert Hall?
See a show?
Universal Studios?
Paramount Studios?
Battleship Iowa?
Annenberg Space for Photography?
The Magic Castle?
IFly Hollywood Indoor Skydiving?

Buildings to Visit
Interior of The Bradbury Building, 304 Broadway at West 3rd Street, 304 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013, Opened: 1893. (213) 626-1893
Urth Caffé 451 South Hewitt Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (213) 797-4534
Arts district, 7th and Matteo zinc, handsome coffee roasters
Old rail depot,
Biscuit company,
Interior of Bullocks Wilshire (if we can get in). 3050 Wilshire Boulevard Built 1929
Broadway: theaters (only saw exteriors, apparently the Los Angeles interior is esp nice, but also the Rialto)
most notably the Los Angeles and Orpheum theaters which are stunning (particularly the lobby of the Los Angeles) and were in The Artist and other films
Los Angeles theater
Rialto
Orpheum
Million dollar theater

Central ave to 1800 block
Coca cola bottling building
West on Wilshire: at western, Wiltern theater (drove by)

Sep 18, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

AFTER ACTION REPORT

Here is our whole itinerary for the trip:

We stayed at the JW Marriott Le Merigot in Santa Monica. It's an OK property, but the service was weak and disjointed--it was closer to a Courtyard than a JW, but the location was great and our room was nice. We were on points so we didn't pay the hefty price (though it was hundreds of thousands of points!). Didn't eat there so no food to report.

SATURDAY
10a Art Deco Tour, LA Conservancy (started at Pershing Square)

12:30: Had very nice lunch at Bottega Louie, incredible butterscotch pudding. We sat in the cafe area to avoid waiting for a table. Nice server, fun, hip atmosphere. Very good food.

More Deco after lunch

5p birthday dinner @ Osteria Mozza Absurd hosts refused to seat us at 5p with an empty restaurant because our two friends hadn't arrived yet; they said it was "imperative" that we don't sit at the table. After that though, once our friends arrived, our server was nice, and the food was good. Still, I wouldn't go back based on the hosts.

8p Hollywood Bowl: Music of the Movies, John Williams, conducting LA Phil, with Seth MacFarlane and other guest. Great!

SUNDAY
11a Buffet Brunch at La Culina, Four Seasons Los Angeles. This was a really great brunch. We sat outside at a very nice table, beautiful day, pleasant shade, and the buffet was incredible--great food, a big variety, and nice service. We felt completely relaxed and indulged. There was a great selection and everything was excellent. There were breakfast items, smoked fish, raw bar, Asian options, carving station, cooked savory main courses, a Mexican taco bar, special drinks, charcuterie, pasta dishes, a kids table (low to the ground), and desserts, They had this great dense caramel (dulce de leche) that we put on the pastries and dessert. I've put it all into photos.

2p Millennium Biltmore Hotel Tour, LA Conservancy

additional deco (Million Dollar theater and Spring St)

DINNER AT Blair’s Restaurant. This was a very nice meal--total departure from Mozza in that the whole staff was so relaxed and accommodating. They let us sit even though our friends hadn't arrived, they let us choose our own table, they were consistently friendly and accommodating, and the food was great.

MONDAY
Getty Villa

Dinner at Geoffrey--This was the only disappointing meal. The view was great, but everything else just wasn't. Our server was friendly, but totally inappropriate, making odd jokes and not giving good service. At one point he told us that all the food was pre-made, everything already has garlic in it, and nothing could be done about it. Then, he came back and said it wasn't a problem. Later, when our food hadn't come for a very long time, we hailed him down, and he said that everything in the kitchen was mixed up. This we believed.

Adamson House gardens (house closed)

Santa Monica Pier

TUESDAY
California science center: Pompeii, Endeavour, other exhibits

Getty Center

Will Rogers State Historic Park (got parking ticket! It's a bit of a scam.)

Dinner at Maison Giraud: This was a nice surprise. We thought it would be a formal traditional French restaurant, good, but maybe a little stiff. We were wrong. It was totally casual and relaxed. The chef visited some tables and joined one diner for part of her meal. The food is very traditional, but it's executed very nicely, our server was great, and we enjoyed the whole experience.

Third St Promenade in Santa Monica

WEDNESDAY
Table read at Fox Animation studios
Tar pits/Page Museum
Peterson Car Museum
Miracle Mile Art Deco (Mays, Desmonds)

Dinner at Red Medicine. This was the most innovative meal of the whole trip. We had a total of six dishes--4 savory, two sweet. Of the four savory, the best by far was the halibut. It was a great dish with incredible textures and flavors. The other good savory dish was the "biodynamic leaks" which were clever and flavorful if a bit challenging to eat. The "chicken dumpling" were misnamed and disappointing in that they were fairly standard Vietnamese chicken meatballs with lettuce wraps--not dumplings at all. The other disappointment was the AKAUSHI BEEF which was apparently very carefully prepared, with the beef seasoned, torn into long strips, and then braided together into something that might be generously described as looking like a sausage (it was far less appetizing and looked liked something else to me). The beef was fairly dry and flavorless. I didn't get it. The two desserts we had were both enjoyable, but the Redwood Ice was actually incredible (see photo). It's got a "lid" made of white chocolate that you have bash through with your spoon (fun!) and then you scoop out from the bottom each spoonful. It's very similar to a Korean shaved ice, but far yummier and more creative than any I've had. The other dessert, the Black Carrot, was very interesting. It was enjoyable but didn't approach the Ice.

Rodeo Drive and Beverly Wilshire

THURSDAY
visit Skippy at stables in Pasadena
Private tour of JPL
Private tour of Moby's house
Dinner at Jar: Jar has a great atmosphere. I felt as if we were stepping back in time to a hidden old Hollywood speakeasy. It's basically a steakhouse and the food is good, but it's really more about the space and the experience from my perspective.

FRIDAY
Disneyland
Dinner: 7:10 Carthay Circle with 9:45 World of Color Package
Disney has frozen in time the Carthay Circle Theater on the night of the premiere of Snow White. The original theater is gone now, but they have photos, and it seems that they have replicated it to a large extent, but it's a restaurant. It's a very large restaurant with a bunch of different rooms and spaces. Even though they are trying to be a high-end experience, you feel like cattle most of the time. Even with a reservation, we had to wait 30 minutes for a table, we couldn't eat outside even though we wanted to, and instead we ended up in a charmless side room that had all the tables close together. Our server was super nice and accommodating and really the best part of the whole meal, but the food was pretty good, too. We had the World of Colors package which limited our menu choices, but in return we got special coupons that gave us special reserved standing area for the show which was really great.

NYC visit October

I really wasn't trying to make a NY vs. LA point here, more just to say that each area has its strengths. I had great food in LA and am not trying to put it down, but the Chowhound people out there made it very clear that I was barking up the wrong tree with my specific Chinese food that I wanted. FWIW, I'll post about my experiences on the LA board, but in truth haven't gotten around to it yet.

NYC visit October

Fair point, but still...

I was so sure I could have great upscale Chinese food for my birthday in L.A. I really wanted steamed juicy buns, Peking Duck, and Dongpo Pork. People kept telling me about sushi or hole in the wall Chinese or super spicy Chinese fusion. Finally, someone explained that what I wanted was just not what L.A. does well so I switched to upscale arrogant-hosted Italian--that they do really well!

NYC visit October

I don't think that NYC is the best place for soul food. If you've sampled it elsewhere, you'll probably be disappointed here. DC is better and as are most places south of DC. (In DC, Georgia Brown's for traditional soul food, and Vidalia for more upscale and innovative. I've had more down home soul food in Atlanta. And the whole one meat, four sides, and dessert experience in Fayetteville, NC.)

NYC does so many things so well, why bother with second best?

If you want really great jazz with pretty good soul-ish food, you could go to Dizzy's Coca Cola Club. Are The Jazz Standard for very good southern BBQ and great jazz.

NYC does Jewish food really better, probably better than anywhere. How about Yohah Schimmel for knishes, Katz's for pastrami, Russ and Daughters for smoked fish (or, if you want to come a little ways uptown without going to Harlem, Barney Greengrass where you can get incredible sturgeon or a sturgeon or nova or both omelette).

Sep 16, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan
1

NYC visit October

Just to add about Eataly--don't think of it as a restaurant at all. It's miserable for that unless you go to the Birreria on the roof which is nice in good weather though just a casual, often has a noisy pub-like atmosphere. Eataly works best if you think of it as a food shop. Personally, though, for a food shop, I'd rather go to the original Dean and Deluca (on Broadway at Prince, just six blocks north of Canal). It's better and much closer to where you are staying.

Sep 15, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan
1

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

The pizzas at Milo and Olive look great, especially the BRAISED BACON & PEACH and the BIANCA. Nice looking sandwiches at Huckleberry, too.

Thanks.

Aug 06, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks.

Mercado does look good, but the menu seems to have garlic and/or chili peppers in almost every dish so probably not for me. I really like Mexican food, but I only rarely find a place that doesn't approach the flavor palate without a base of garlic and chili peppers. They do exist, but they are few and far between.

Aug 06, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Now you're playing with fire! I generally avoid bagels, smoked sturgeon, or pastrami outside NYC. I'm not saying that other places might not have good versions, but when you live in NYC, why bother?

That said, even NYC isn't what it was. Growing up, my favorite was Herald Square delicatessen, plus Wolf's on 57th. Then, the Carnegie (and Stage) in the theater district. Katz's is great, too. I only went to 2nd Ave a couple times, and it was up there, but never held the same place in my heart (though I think I liked the egg creams). Most of these places are closed now, but we still have a couple plus Russ & Daughters, Barney Greengrass, and Zabar's. Most of the good bagel places have closed, too, but a few remain. I feel compelled to mention Yonah Schimmel (knishes from 1910) which is still around.

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

The dumplings look great. Thanks.

Aug 06, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks. The desserts look incredible!

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

I've modified my request (above) because this seems to have been confusing.

I was looking for one upscale Chinese place (given up on that) and one buffet brunch place (Yes, it's mostly hotels that do upscale buffet brunches in my experience--found that).

Aside from that, I'm just looking for people's favorite restaurants that have menus that are not based on garlic and hot peppers.

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Looking at menus, I really like Maison Giraud, Gjelina, and Willie Jane so far. They look great!

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks! I'll check those out.

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks.

To be clear, I'm not looking for NYC food or SF food or Seattle food (another place I love to eat). I thought for people who knew those restaurants, it would clarify the sorts of places I like in those locations and it might be helpful for identifying places in L.A., but based on what you and others have said, it's probably not a good approach.

I'm sure you're right about the differences between NYC and L.A., and understanding those differences is helping me adjust my expectations. I do really like New American so I'm glad you let me know not to look for it in L.A. SF does that well and a couple places in Seattle, too (Crush, for one, that is really good). Cafe Kati in SF does great Asian fusion, but it's the only place I know for it (and it's not spicy which is great for me).

I enjoy all kinds of restaurants as long as they garlic/hot peppers are not an issue. I've been fortunate to travel a great deal for work in the past, getting to sample foods from around the US, EU, Scandinavia, and one trip each to Asia (Taipei, Siem Reap, Bangkok) and S. Africa. I'm not looking to eat chocolate covered bugs or drink snake blood squeezed from a dying animal, but I do enjoy a range of local cuisine.

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks, Yes, Shun Lee is the kind of place I was wanting to find, but I understand now that it's not the kind of place LA really does. I don't need it so desperately that I'll bother with the mostly-miss places. Thanks for making that so clear.

The best Chinese food I've had was in Taipei (I've never been to China). I went to some really great restaurants; I'm not a night market kind of guy though, especially with my dietary restrictions.

I love those steamed juicy buns, Peking Duck, dongpo pork, and those black sesame rice balls. I had some really good Hakka dishes, but I don't recall the specifics of them. I also had great dim sum on that trip, but it's trickier in NYC--people won't always tell you (for language or knowledge reasons) what's in each dish so I don't bother.

In the US, I like the upscale places or the moderately upscale ones where families go for special occasions.

So unless I'm with someone who knows the owner, I don't risk it with the more casual places. There was one called Golden Pond in Philly that was really good that handled special dietary requests very easily. I don't know if it's still there, but I don't expect to find too many casual places that cater to my needs. I respect that, and I don't push it.

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

I'd like to modify my request to eliminate everything related to brunch, hotels, and Chinese food.

I've gotten plenty of material on all that. Thank you.

At this point, if you'd care to add anything, I'd welcome your favorite restaurants where it's really easy to avoid garlic and hot peppers.

Thanks!

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks, that's very helpful. Yes, I saw that the St. Regis in Laguna has a buffet brunch, but it seemed a long way to go. I've been to that area a couple times for work (stayed at the Ritz there for one assignment--beautiful!) and a couple times by the John Wayne airport.

I'll check out those places.

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Sorry if I made it complicated. I'd like to experience whatever L.A. does best in general, but not hole-in-the-wall Chinese. In terms of adjectives, I like NYC and SF each for its own strengths and hope to appreciate L.A. that way, too, but no garlic and hot peppers.

We're staying in Santa Monica, but we're touring around so we'll be in different places on different days (not sure of the specifics yet, but we're going to Hollywood, Griffith Park, Pasadena, Anaheim, Downtown, Pacific Palisades etc.). Not sure on driving limits; probably don't want to drive more than an hour or so unless it's one of our destinations???

Thanks.

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

I'll check out those places to try. Thanks.

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks, Yes, I saw those prior posts. Not looking for for holes in walls for Chinese food. I'll check out Shanghai No. 1.

Aug 05, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Thanks. My girlfriend found that the Four Seasons has a buffet brunch so we're probably going to do that.

Aug 04, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

NYer coming to LA for birthday: top picks? buffet brunch? upscale Chinese w/ Dongpo pork + Peking duck?

Hi. We're coming to LA for the week of Labor Day. I've been a couple times in the past but really don't know LA. I'd love a couple recommendations. Whenever I travel, I try to sample the best of local cuisine.

My favorite restaurants in NYC are Eleven Madison Park, Aquavit, and Dovetail--these are fairly innovative and yummy places with great service in my book.

In the Bay Area, my favorites include Fifth Floor, Firefly, Cafe Kati, Stacks pancake house, Baker+Banker, Park Tavern (wider range here--formal to casual, innovative to comfort food to Asian fusion to pancakes).

What should my L.A. favorites list include???

In addition, NYC doesn't really have a great Sunday brunch buffet, but I love them so I always look for a great one when I travel. Most recently had a great one at the Four Seasons in Georgetown and over the years have had others at the Park Hyatt Bellevue in Philly, the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes and Hyatt Grand Cypress in Orlando, Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, and the Four Seasons in Las Vegas.

Top pick for a gourmet Sunday brunch? A little over the top is just fine!

Finally, I was hoping for an upscale Chinese place for my birthday. I love Peking Duck and Dongpo Pork. But if that isn't what L.A. does best, I'm open to other cuisines/ideas.

Lastly, my stomach is sensitive to hot peppers and garlic so those places that use them in every dish are not for me.

Thanks very much!

Steven

Aug 04, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Los Angeles Area

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

I had no idea about the Groupon. Thanks!

Glad that this thread resulted in your trying it, too. That's great!

May 02, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

Sorry for the slow reply, but I'm very glad you enjoyed it, and I hope if you return, your expectations will only be higher!

May 01, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan