Are you the type of person that stares at the menu, contemplating every item listed and feeling completely overwhelmed by the choices? Are you the last one to order every single time you go out to eat with friends? And after you finally order, do you obsess over the entrees you thought about choosing but didn’t? Well, you’re not the only one. And this rampant menu-commitment phobia has set forth a new Los Angeles restaurant trend: tasting menus. Much to the relief of waiters everywhere, chefs have preselected anywhere from a three to 22-course meal that samples some, if not all, of their finest creations. The decisions are made for you and once ordered, all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy.
132 N Robertson Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Price: $65 per person
The flavors of Moroccan food are exciting, bold and exotic thanks to Berber, Moorish and Arab influences and the royal chefs in cities like Fes, Meknes, Rabat and Tetouan that perfected it. Thankfully, Tagine in Beverly Hills offers a tasting menu with a variety of dishes that offer samples of many delicious cuisines. For $65 a person, you can have hummus, tomato and cucumber tartar; bastille; tiger shrimp; sea bass; lamb chops; and baklava with Tagine’s famous chocolate soup and vanilla ice cream.
6703 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Price: Varies, as does the course number
While a tasting menu may be the answer for some, at Hatfield’s it may only fuel the problem. A tasting menu of the chef’s specialties will still force you to choose between dishes like black cod or diver scallops and mint-crusted lamb or pan-roasted New York steak. And as if that’s not difficult enough, Hatfield’s offers a two-course dessert. Try choosing between passion fruit Pavlova and a lemon meringue tartlet or a banana crème tart (banana caramel, chocolate-cinnamon ice cream) and sugar and spice beignets (chocolate fondue, vanilla-cola milkshake). Fortunately, the tasting menu must be ordered by the entire table which will relieve some of the pressure of choosing.
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176 N Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Price: $88 per person for 3-course menu with Hors d’oeuvres, $98 per person for 4-course menu with Hors d’oeuvres
Wolfgang Puck has restaurants all over the world, but there’s nothing like the fine-dining experience you receive at his flagship restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills. With celebrity chefs and celebrity clientele, Spago is as iconic as Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive and a must-try for tourists looking for that true LA encounter. Unfortunately for those passing through town, Spago is usually a one-time visit and choosing a single entrée from the menu is difficult. Thankfully, there’s a private-dining, three to four-course meal with an hors d’oeuvres tasting menu packed full of Wolfgang’s best creations. The menu is subject to change based on market conditions and availability, ensuring variety whenever you go. Just cross your fingers that the lobster and crab risotto make it on the list.
6602 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Price: $69 per person, add $50 for wine pairings
Fusilli, farfalle. rigatoni, campanelle and orecchiette – if you know these words are types of Italian pasta, then Osteria Mozza is the place for you. Osteria Mozza on Melrose is one of the best places for pasta. Tender, perfectly seasoned and sauced, you’ll have a tough time selecting just one. In an attempt to relieve diners from menu angst, the power chefs at Osteria Mozza have put together a pasta tasting menu guaranteed to blow your senses out of the water. You can sample farfalle with funghi misti e noci, cappelletti di vitello burro e salvia, pici with duck ragu and dolce gubana with nocino panna cotta, just to name a few tasty dishes. They might not make complete sense to you, but a bite of each will quickly relieve you of any confusion about their quality. Osteria Mozza’s pasta tasting menu requires participation of the entire table and it’s just as well because sharing will be difficult.
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SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Price: $120 per person
SAAM, located in a smaller section of The Bazaar, offers a 22-course meal that redefines the phrase “feast fit for a king.” Traditional and unique plates paired with beautifully-designed cocktails and served by “the ballet,” a team of waiters that guide you through each course, will make you feel like royalty. The magnificent feast includes oyster and jamón, seabeans in tempura, parmesan macaron, patatas bravas, crispy nigiri, uni & eel, mushroom & duck liver and dragon’s breath popcorn (plus a few surprises). And these are only a few of the exotic and stunning creations. Just walk into SAAM’s luxurious dining room and be relieved of your dining anxiety. While the menu is subject to change, the exceptional personalized service will remain.
Kristine G. Bottone is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.