Tuesday, September 20, 2011

dineLA Fall 2011 - 1MB Picks!

dineLA Restaurant Week is back! It's again really two weeks of prix fixe, 3-course lunches and dinners at top restaurants around the city, running October 2-7 and October 9-14.

While it's exciting to see a huge list of over 300 restaurants, it can also be overwhelming to sift through (note to dineLA: would be fantastic if you can build a feature in your iPhone app that allows you to save selected restaurants to a modifiable shortlist!). 

Friends have been asking about my top picks but I'm just now getting through all the menus!  Below are my picks so far compiled from available menus, as much for myself to keep track as anything else - and of course based on my personal preferences as noted below.  Hope you guys will find helpful as well!


Bar + Kitchen
Dinner $26
Why?: Prosciutto wrapped foie gras butter, quince jam, raisin bread; pork porterhouse with bacon jam.  Offering items not on regular menu.
Estimated Savings: $6*   *Based on average price for each course, since exact items are not on regular menu

Chaya Brasserie
Dinner $34
Why?: dineLA to me is all about being able to try new things at an affordable price - and several items here excite me as novel combinations of ingredients: especially Slow Roasted Beet Tartare, Yolk Sauce, Wasabi/Goat Mousse, Bruschetta. There is scallop as a first course choice. I don't like chicken except when fried, but they are offering one served with seaweed butter which at least sounds interesting.
Estimated Savings: $14*  *Based on closest items on regular menu (shrimp cocktail: scallop; chicken: chicken; desserts all same price)

Dinner $44
Why?: Always classically great dishes and incredible service. Scallops and sea bass are choices for the 2nd course. Dessert options sound good to me: Butternut Squash Pie, Cider Sabayon & Braised Apples or Peanut Butter Semifreddo & Single Origin Chocolate
Update 10/8: Awesome meal (3 starters are ALL included for table to share) and impeccable service!  Plus free parking in structure with validation!
Estimated Savings: at least $22* *Based on items from regular menu Wild Arugula $12 (x3/2)+Scallops $30+average mushroom/potato side dish price ($12/2)+Apple Pudding $12 = $66 - $44 = $22 (2 starters are not on menu and should be more expensive than arugula dish, so savings should be even greater by unknown amount).  And you get a complimentary bag of fresh made granola to take home!

Lunch $28 or Dinner $44
Why?: When else are you going to be able to dine at the FOUR SEASONS hotel for less than $100 a head?  (Unless you bought the Travelzoo deal - $89 for 4-course dinner for two w/ champagne - back when I tweeted about it ;P)  Some menu items do actually sound intriguing - like black cod with guanciale (pork cheek) and cauliflower soup with blood orange and extra virgin olive oil.
Estimate Savings: $19* for lunch   *Based on average non-seafood salad price+Branzino lunch portion+$9 desserts

Eva Restaurant
Lunch $22 or Dinner $34
Why?:  Sous vide alaskan halibut with a 'hollandise' mustard!!! 'Pork and beans' with braised pork belly in chorizo broth! Lemon pudding cake with thyme foam! Lunch menu same as dinner! (Ok so items are from regular menu but savings are pretty big!)
Estimated Savings: $16* for dinner *Based on schaner egg, halibut and fixed dessert prices

La Cachette Bistro
Dinner $34
Why?: I see magic words on the menu: foie gras (and TWO), lobster bisque, salmon tartar, bouillabaisse, duck & pork cassoulet!!! I want to eat everything - might have to make multiple visits to try them all.  Even the duo of blood sausages.
Estimated Savings: $12* *Based on lobster bisque+bouillabaisse/boudins+floating island/volcano dessert

[Update 10/12: Foie great, rum dessert great. Cassoulet not recommended. Tons of beans and they ended up taking out the duck so it was all pork.]

Lexington Social House
Dinner $34
Why?: Their fried chicken was fantastic at The Taste Picnic in the Hills event in September!  And it's offered as a 2nd course option! Heirloom tomato & goat ricotta, and prosciutto with burrata and beet salads sound delicious. Desserts all sound good from Monkey Bread to Panna Cotta with fig puree and balsamic, to Beignets! Though, big disclaimer: all these items are on the regular menu, so whether to take up a dineLA slot for this depends on savings...which I need to call them to determine as prices aren't posted on the restaurant site.
Estimated Savings: TBD

Dinner $44
Why? Because you can have three courses that go something like this: caviar-foie-caviar.  All three are not on the regular menu. Petrossian used to be one of my fav places to visit during dineLA back when Chef Ben Bailly was at the helm - they had one of the most generous and decadent menus during Restaurant Week. This may be a good time to check out what's new. 
Estimated Savings: $8* *Based on closest comparable items on regular menu: salads/soups $16, Scottish Salmon $28, desserts $8

Ocean & Vine at Loews Santa Monica
Dinner $34
Why?:  Oceanfront dining for $34.  Interesting sounding menu items including: Santa Monica Chili made with Laughing Bird Shrimp, scallops, lump crab, roasted garlic and fava beans.  Apple and cheddar soup with sweet onion tart.  Catalina Thresher Shark (never heard of it!) with Ginger Persimmon Nage, Pacific Lobster Mashed Potatoes, Agave Glazed Heirloom Carrots and Beets.  Grapevine Smoked Beef Tenderloin with Cognac Beef Marrow Glaze, Artichoke Chips, Black Barley Pilaf.  Sweet potato lasagna for dessert.  Massive savings compared to regular menu.
Estimated Savings: $29* *Based on SM Chili+Tenderloin+fixed dessert price

[Update 10/12: LOVE the chili and beef tenderloin. Lasagna for dessert not recommended]

Lunch $28
Why?: Love the location - Montage Beverly Hills with the beautiful park in between two wings of hotel. Great savings on items from regular menu - like the infamous (or some would say notorious) $24 spaghetti.  Which on principle I resisted the concept of, as atrocious - but which curiosity is getting the best of me for.  Now is probably the best time to try it, when a 'deal' can be had off regular price.
Estimated Savings: $20* *Based on items also on regular menu: polenta+spaghetti+budino/cake 

The Bazaar by Jose Andres
Dinner $44
Why?: One of the most unique dining venues in LA, and relatively large savings depending on what you order.  If you haven't been yet, dineLA's a good time to sample their offerings, though some of the best aren't on the dineLA menu, like the sea urchin bao or the duck liver quince sliders or IbĂ©rico ham.
Estimated Savings: $25* *Based on pricing of items of regular menu: Japanese Taco+Jamon Serrano Fermin+Sauteed Shrimp+Scallops+any of the desserts 

[UPDATE 10/8: Whist has been removed from my list for being a pain.  They didn't offer the dineLA menus on the two weekend days (Sundays) and now say the lunch deal is NOT available for the week of 10/9-10/14, while the dineLA lunch menu is still listed online.  Why participate in this program if you're going to carve out all these exceptions and make it difficult for diners to actually take you up on the offers?]


Note:  I have not dined at all of the places above - picks are based on menu descriptions and pricing info listed. Estimated savings are best guess only based on available info.  Does not account for variance in portion sizes etc.

I will continue to update this as more menus post (10/3: surprised some still haven't posted yet!). Let me know if there are any good ones I've totally missed! 

Where will you go for dineLA?

P.S. Deal stacking: On top of all these prix fixe deals, American Express Cardmembers who are also foursquare users can get a $5 statement credit when you check in to participating dineLA restaurants during Restaurant Week and use your synced Amex Card to pay for the meal ($21 minimum purchase requi red. Offer maybe redeemed once per location. Registration is limited.) For full Terms and Conditions, check: sync.americanexpress.com/foursquare

dineLA Restaurant Week (Fall 2011)
October 2-7, and October 9-14, 2011

Lunch: $16,$22 or $28
Dinner: $26, $34 or $44

Website: discoverlosangeles.com


  1. Another way to stack deals:

    Open Table vouchers are still good during Dine LA, thus decreasing big ticket $44 dinners down to ... almost nothing.

    Also, check out Little Next Door's lunch menu:
    Salad Trio Sampler: $12
    Burger: $15
    Eclair: $5
    Total: $32
    Saving whopping $16.

    Unlike Scarpetta, they actually give you some protein. Too bad neither Scarpetta/Whist nor Little Next Door are serving DineLA menu on Sundays.

  2. Great rec for Little Next Door deal - thanks TC!

    Yeah not liking the 'Sundays excluded' tactic some of these places are taking! IMHO, whatever hit they take on revenue for the day they'd get back in marketing value...which I thought was the whole point.

    And how could I forget about OpenTable! Aside from redemption, you can also make your dineLA reservations through OpenTable to collect points towards a new voucher.



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