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A Romantic Dinner that doesn't suck??

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I have a special someone who's birthday is coming up, and I'd like to take her to a really nice restaurant that we haven't been to yet.

She's always wanted to try Lawry's, but her friend and I have convinced her that it won't be as good as she imagines it to be (even though I haven't been there myself, her friend has though), and from my understanding. Lawry's is NOT romantic, unless you're on a corporate lunch affair w/ your secretary or something I guess.

Her friend suggested that I try taking her to Orange Hill, but after reading the reviews on CitySearch, I'm very hesitant to do so.

Her friend just graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts, and although I don't quite have the same taste in certain foods as she does, I do take her suggestions in to consideration. Unfortunately, due to prior experiences with her suggestions, I now question her opinions a lot more.

I'm just curious for some other suggestions.

I've been to the Stinky Rose and was very disappointed. It seems most of the places people rave about never seem to live up to the hype, although I really have no expectations (except good food).

Is there a place that accomplishes both good food AND a nice romantic view?

I'd rather be somewhere near the beach. Price is not an issue.

Thanks,
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  1. You could try Geoffrey's in Malibu. View is wonderful and the food's not bad.

    1. Near the beach? How about JER-NE in Marina Del Rey?

      http://www.ritzcarlton.com/hotels/mar...

      GEOFFREY'S in Malibu is also lovely, but the food sometimes can be a bit uneven. Can't beat the setting though.

      http://www.geoffreysmalibu.com/

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I was going to say the same thing.

        Agree on the view and the setting, it's great, can't really be beat.

        I think the food is good. It's not (to use the parlance of this message board) "The Best." But it's good. And it's not super expensive.

        And you can have a drink and watch the sun set.

      2. A lot of people find Beaurivage romantic. It's on PCH in Malibu but not on the beach side. I find the food pretty good but alas not as good as you would expect by the prices:

        Beaurivage Restaurant
        26025 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
        (310) 456-5733

        Been to Geoffery's, which is right over the beach, and found it romantic and okay. I prefer going in the summer and sitting out on the patio where you can hear the waves crashing on the rocks below:

        Geoffrey's Malibu
        27400 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
        (310) 457-1519

        My personal favorite is in Beverly Hills:

        Ilcielo Italian Gardens Restaurant
        9018 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
        (310) 276-9990

        They have a nice patio in front but I request the side patio where there are a couple of tables for 2 that are somewhat isolated. Tell them when you reserve if that's what you want.
        Also, while some on this board take exception, I found I really liked everything I've ever ordered there. I love their Cesear salad a lot.

        Good luck. Report back

        1 Reply
        1. re: LesThePress

          2nd Il Cielo - used to go there for free often on biz. Then moved away, changed jobs, happened upon it recently - still excellent.

          I love Il Cielo for romance and good food - there is one table in the back that in kind-of in it's own little nook, looks like the perfect place to even propose.

        2. One Pico at Shutters Hotel in Santa Monica has great food and a nice view.

          1 Reply
          1. re: S DAG

            I used to be a BIG fan of One Pico, but my most recent visit left me a bit non-plussed, if not straight up disappointed.

            Eggs were overcooked, french toast came out soggy, and the juice ... what happened to the juice!!???

            Maybe it was a one time flub ... who knows.

          2. Well, three suggestions for beach type stuff -- there's The Lobster in Santa Monica, Sapori in Marina del Rey, or if you're up for a bit of a drive, the Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove in Newport Coast.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              The Lobster in Santa Monica is the loudest restaurant I think I've ever been to. Personally, I don't find it romantic at all.

            2. Lawry's is definitely not romantic. It's more like an old school cafeteria setting (but I like the prime rib).

              Beau Rivage - the food is just ok, not wonderful. The location and views are beautiful.

              Our romantic place is always Saddle Peak Lodge -- nice ambiance and good food.

              1 Reply
              1. re: boogiebaby

                I would hardly describe the interior of Lawry's as "old school cafeteria." It's got big, cushy booths and more of a clubby atmosphere. I also think the prime rib at Lawry's is excellent, and I've never been anything but happy with the food and service.

                That said, I wouldn't consider it "romantic."

                I think of the recommendations you've received, Saddle Peak Lodge has the best food, and a really great atmosphere. It's a great special event restaurant. Here's a link to their webpage, with menu and photos/virtual tour.

                http://www.saddlepeaklodge.com/

              2. Being a woman and having been to those places mentioned above, if I wanted a beach setting with good food and price didn't matter -- GEOFFREY'S. Waves, fire pits, palm trees - seafood, delicious appetizers, sweet desserts.

                If price continued to not matter and I wanted a warm, cozy, romantic setting, I would ask to go to SADDLE PEAK LODGE. Game is the focus, and a shareable dessert platter.

                If I decided I wanted a garden with the romantic setting - and ok Italian food - Il Cielo.

                Beaurivage is o-k...the service can be a bit hit or miss; there are times when it seems overbearing, other times when I have to ask repeatedly for water, dessert, and utensils. Plus, I can't see the ocean even if I'm sitting at the window.

                1. Here's another one...

                  Inn of the Seventh Ray
                  128 Old Topanga Canyon Rd
                  Topanga, CA 90290-3807
                  (310) 455-1311

                  I've never been but have heard really good things... Anyone else?

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: SChalfant

                    I've been there ... and on the recommendation of someone who thought it was perfect for a romantic meal.

                    The setting is really nice, but ...

                    I, frankly, felt the place was a little uncomfortable. The tables feel too close together for me and the chairs were not all that comfortable. I felt rushed and sort of stressed out there.

                    YMMV, though ...

                    1. re: PaulF

                      Good to know - it sounds (and looks) really pretty (one of those places where everyone looks good!). Thanks for the scoop!

                      1. re: SChalfant

                        Lots of people dig the place, mine is only one opinion.

                        It is pretty there.

                        1. re: PaulF

                          I enjoyed the Inn of the Seventh Ray (their "full" brunch, not just the vegetarian-only option) and the setting amid the trees and babbling 'brook' is very special. But you are quite correct that the tables are too hemmed-in and the chairs uncomfortable. Also, some folks find the new age ambiance (which can trickle down thru some of their servers) cloying. But on a sunny morning with the champagne flowing, its difficult to have a bad time...

                          1. re: silence9

                            I agree about the new age/cloying factor. Like shopping in a co-op. I don't mind it, but I don't find it romantic either.

                            We agree about the hemmed in and uncomfortable chairs -- that's what I was getting at.

                        2. re: SChalfant

                          as a vegetarian - i have been taken there on several dates - each time, the guy thinks it would be perfect for me - they have a lot of organic/veg food. if you expect anything to happen later - i wouldn't suggest this place...gassy

                        3. re: PaulF

                          Not only are the chairs crappy and uncomfortable, the slate or stone floor is uneven. The lights and the setting are certainly very pretty. Outdoor eating -- even with heat lamps -- is better for summer than winter, non?

                          You also need to factor in the drive home afterwards, especially for out-of-the-way places such as Saddle Peak, Geoffreys and Inn Seventh.

                          Of course, it depends on where the person is driving from...

                          You cannot really go wrong with Geoffreys; that's my vote. IT's true the food can be a bit uneven, but it (hopefully) won't be dreadful and the glamorous setting and romantic location will be well worth it.

                          Might I suggest you get there for sunset (or soon thereafter), if feasible?

                          1. re: Maxmillion

                            Completely agree about the uneven stone floor.

                            We're in total agreement, crappy, uncomfortable chairs on an uneven surface.

                            It's a bit of the emperor's new clothes for me -- I didn't want to be the first to come out and say that this supposedly romantic spot is actually uncomfortable and stressful.

                      2. Summit House in Fullerton is voted most romantic restaurant in OC on the Aol list. It has great food and is reasonably priced.

                        1. What about the Lobster (is that what it's called) on Santa Monica pier? I've heard from lots that it's romantic.

                          If you really wanted to go all out, rent a room at the Fairmont in Santa Monica and have a table set up in the room with room service w/wait staff and all.

                          Can you tell I'm a girl??

                          :)

                          1. Lobster isn't THAT romantic - too crowded. BUT, I love the room-service idea! But, I'd do it at Shutters. Just a thought!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: SChalfant

                              We went to the Lobster once and sat across from Edward Norton. She liked that! =p

                              But yea, we've already been there before, and it is a bit too loud/crowded.

                              Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. It's almost overwhelming now, I see a few that I want to try.

                            2. Other options you might consider: Ocean & Vine in the Loew's has good food and could work well as a romantic spot if you get a table near the window--there is a nice view of the Pier at night (beautifully lit up)--or you could sit outside around one of the fire pits. Cafe del Rey is another view option with great food but I don't consider it particularly romantic. Capo (on Pico and Ocean) is very good, very romantic, very pricey but has no view.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: New Trial

                                Oooo... I was definitely going to recommend Ocean & Vine in the Loew's! It has a very wine-centered, so if you and the lady enjoy wine, I would definitely recommend it.

                                One Pico at Shutters, when I went, was delicious. I went with a friend, (so no romance,) but I could see it being a nice date-place.

                                Have you checked out Citysearch's "Best of" section? They probably also have some good romantic places listed.

                              2. I agree with Geoffrey's and Saddle Peak although I think the food is better at Geoffrey's. Il Cielo is also romantic but the food is not as good as the setting. You could also consider Ivy by the Beach for a near surf experience. Or the Ivy in town. Does anyone know about the place at the airport, The Escape?? I thought it was going to open soon. Could be retro cool.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: CharlotteMichele

                                  I've had one of the crappiest meals ever (lunch, several years ago) at Ivy at the Shore. I think you may find most 'hounds dislike this place. Also, there's a busy street between you and the ocean.

                                  1. re: Maxmillion

                                    Well I've only been to Ivy at the Beach once, had the lobster pasta and thought it was quite good. Yes it's not on the ocean but a "near surf" cexperience as I said. Regarding romantic I recall a quote my wife and I often recite: "It's not the table that makes the party but the party that makes the table." If you know what I mean...

                                2. Well, if you want to do something really special, you could take her to the upscale version of Lawry's, which is Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar. It's got dark lighting and a romantic ambiance. It's near the beach but doesn't have an ocean view though. The prime rib is excellent and if that's what she really wants from Lawry's then this would be a good choice as far as food goes.

                                  To make up for the lack of ocean view dining (as well as make the trek to OC more worth it), you could get a room at some nearby resort like Four Seasons or the Ritz!!! I don't know if you're at the point of the relationship where getting a hotel room isn't wildly presumptuous, but if not, it could be a special birthday weekend getaway.

                                  The reason why this would be special is not only for the good food and the romantic dinner and hotel, but it shows that you're trying to accommodate her request of Lawry's rather than discount her wishes. Because if she feels like you're not being receptive to what she wants (and after all, it is HER birthday), then no restaurant would make up for that, no matter how good the food is, how romantic it is or how comfortable the chairs are.

                                  Just my .02.

                                  1. Lawry's is actually quite fun to experience at least once, just not for an extra-special and romantic dinner date...

                                    To me, Lawry's has this old-LA vibe about it that is kinda spesh and the spinning salad performance is a treat as well as being delicious. They do decent/fairly excellent prime rib, depending on the cut you select.

                                    But it is a vast, bustling restaurant. I think of it as more suitable for treating visiting in-laws to a nice night out or for family gatherings.

                                    1. Note to fatcow:

                                      With all the recs, you're gonna have to tell us where you ended up going and how the evening went ...

                                      1. stinking rose isn't really a place to go to for a special event. try bringing her to l'orangerie before they close!!! they close this month, tragically. the food has always been excellent, and though there's no view, it's still very old-world and romantic inside. i thought jer-ne at the ritz carlton in marina del rey was also good, and you can get a view of the marina if you ask.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: adelly

                                          ^Ooh -- that's a fantastic rec. L'Orangerie is a truly spesh and super romantic experience and this marvellous LA landmark is going to close by the end of the year *forever*

                                          But yeah, it lacks an ocean view............................prob why I didn't think to rec it myself. But I echo yours!

                                          The welcoming warmth, drop dead elegance, glamorous ambiance and -- of course -- the magnificent haute cuisine at L'Orangerie is unlike anywhere else in LA.

                                          I will sorely miss this place for special occasions. *sigh*

                                          I can't stress enough how unstuffy and warm this restaurant is.

                                        2. I gotta say Grace. Everything about the decor is classy and elegant, and the food is top-notch, too.

                                          1. I recall having a nice meal and drinks at the Grey Whale in Malibu right next to Zuma Beach (close enough to need to sweep sand away from the entrance). Maybe there are some other reviews for this?

                                            Also, love Taverna Tony, the Greek restaurant at Malibu Crossroads. Nice, comfy, warm, festive yet romantic atmosphere.

                                            1. How come no one suggested the dining room at Hotel Bel Air? Has it gone downhill? I thought the setting was very romantic and beautiful.
                                              I also liked the restaurant at the Getty Center... great view, great food, and you can do a pre-dinner stroll through the galleries.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: banquisha

                                                I've had cocktails and appetizers at the Grey Whale, and the atmosphere was fantastic. Very nice. I wouldn't complain if someone took me there on a date!

                                                The restaurant at the Getty is also great. Great food, view, and wine. If you aren't set on an ocean view, it's a great option. You can, of course, see the ocean on a clear day from the gardens.