Last year, there was some post about how to maximize your DineLA experience. That’s all nice and all, but it’s still difficult to judge where to eat, especially because the menus are all prix-fixed.
Depending on how resourceful you wish to be, always make the reservation via Opentable, even for lunch. During DineLA, the 1,000 point offer is suspended, but you CAN use the Opentable $50 certificate (from redeeming your 5,000 booking points) during DineLA. Essentially, you can dine at Cecconi’s, Campanile, Delphine, Fig, First & Hope, and a trove of other recognized restaurants in LA for $0, plus tip. In case you’re really bad with math, that translates to a nearly FREE. The value is tremendous these weeks.
Last year, the biggest splurge during DineLA was at Spago and shortly after, I vowed to not eat another DineLA dinner meal again. The value just isn’t there. So let’s do brunch instead?
Simon LA at the Sofitel.
Sitting on the patio, you’re only 1 sound wall away from being harassed by Beverly Center’s hustle & bustle. Here, the furniture screams “Sunset Magazine”, with oversquare seats, sun light peeking in between purposely draped awning & vertical granite slab fountains. Surely Chef Kerry isn’t at the kitchen ready to cook, cause you know, LA Live is just way cooler than the Sofitel nowadays, so thank goodness the kitchen of a French hotel must be somewhat capable (?).
At $22, this isn’t the best “deal” on the DineLA list, especially when breakfast cocktails are a dozen dollars each, but we had a gay ‘ol time watching the lil ol (French?) ladies that dine, waiting for the screaming LAFD sirens to pass, pondering the spiced radish & herbal celery paired with tuna crudo, and chatting with Virginie a restaurant manager trainee from France, NATCH.
The panfried halibut served over faro must’ve weighed a good quarter pound. The lamb bolognese with ricotta probably weighed a good pound. Neither were memorable save the halibut being gently flaky and a tad under salted. Bolognese is a-ok. Penne cooked nice and chewable, kicked up a bit with basil, but the ricotta was scarce and unnecessary. There’s never a plate of bolognese I can fully get behind; utter ennui. 3 desserts were served, but only 2 shown here. As with most DineLA meals, find friends to book a 4-top, no matter how “Angeleno” and unreliable they may be; make sure they’re not A-types, so you can coerce them into ordering options you clearly only wish to sample. The mint & chocolate spumoni was killer, with a surprising butter fingery center.
Since this is clearly a post on parsimony, check the below for 20% “Neighborhood Visitor” card to the Sofitel. What UP!
Simon LA at the Sofitel
8555 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
After Shangri-La’s post on O Bar & Kitchen (downtown), I had to return. In truth, this is probably my half-dozenth burger at the O. Westsiders have Father’s Office, Eastsiders have O Bar. What people commonly forget is the happy hour here at the Hotel:
$12 for a burger and beer. Umami can have it’s smashed mush for happy hour. Most of us without dog palates would rather have a real burger. If your career choice placed you squarely out of downtown’s reach before 7pm, DineLA is the second best time to experience this burger. $16 gets you a refreshing squid salad (celery in a DineLA salad again? It’s all the rage), the hefty burger topped with havarti, onion marmalade, bacon, arugula and roasted peppers, and a dessert. This remains my favorite burger in downtown (top 5 in LA) falling short to Bar Marmont, 25 Degrees due to the massive bun yielding a poor beef:bun ratio, the patty with not enough char, the egregious toppings, and rather bland havarti cheese. Typically, I ask for light onion compote, and season the top bun with the tremendous garlic aioli that’s more hummus than mayo.
As with previous years, Dine LA’s best values remain the single dollar sign dinner and 3 dollar sign lunches. The difference in cost between “$” lunch and dinner is merely $10, while lunch and dinner difference for “$$$” is $14. And don’t forget to register your American Express for charge 3, get $20 back! Not sure how many of you read Fatwallet & Slickdeals, but yah, DineLA presents an opportunity for Street Fighter combination to triple dip. But we’re not done. If you’re REALLY awesome, the Rewards Network offers up to 5 miles per dollar at participating restaurants: http://aa.rewardsnetwork.com when using a registered credit card. Personally, it’s never happened to me, but hey, it’s conceivable. It might not be a “good” meal, but you’ll feel like an extra special frugal beaver.