Question: I recently lucked across a windfall of $100. And before I spend it on anything foolish like beer or next month’s rent, I’d like to know where I could go to a nice dinner with a buddy. Please don’t send me to an Asian or Latin American restaurant. That’s where I go when I don’t have an extra $100 kicking around.
—L.M., Studio City
Answer: I suspect you aren’t looking for romance, so a date-night restaurant like Luna Park or Violet is not quite right. Conventional wisdom would probably have me send you to one of the decent, good-value bistros currently in vogue, like Gorikee in Woodland Hills or Nook in West Los Angeles, but I’m pretty sure that you’re looking for something a little racier for your C-note, a restaurant you couldn’t ordinarily afford. Special nights are a good way to go. Nancy Silverton, one of the country’s best chefs, has a Monday-night residency at Jar, where she serves mozzarella in all sorts of improbable ways, and a Tuesday-night gig at La Terza, where she presides over a spectacular antipasto table of the sort you might expect to find in rural Tuscany. (Both are far less expensive than regular dinners at their respective restaurants, although the little dishes can add up fast.) On Mondays at Campanile, Mark Peel cooks $35 family dinners — last week’s featured fish steamed Brazilian-style in banana leaves. And on Thursdays at Angeli Caffe, Evan Kleiman prepares elaborate, multicourse, reservation-only, hourslong dinners devoted to the cooking of one region, anything from creole to Moroccan, for $28 a head — it would be hard to do much better than that. Angeli Caffe, 7274 Melrose Ave., (323) 936-9086; Campanile, 624 S. La Brea Ave., (323) 938-1447; Jar, 8225 Beverly Blvd., (323) 655-6566; La Terza, 8384 W. 3rd St., (323) 782-8384. Got a burning culinary question? Try us: email@example.com.