Dinner near UCLA/Bel Air
Out of towner with business at UCLA, staying near intersection of Sunset/405. Looking for great dinner places within a reasonable drive. Most likely be dining alone, so prefer places more on the sedate/cozy side, and good wines by the glass are a plus. Recs for French, Italian, Chinese especially welcome.
Also, if I were to take a trek to Chinatown, what place would be most worthwhile?
Some very good advice here, but Gardens on Glendon, while excellent, isn't an Italian Restaurant--it serves well prepared up to date American cuisine ranging from comforting short ribs to spiced salmon with chipotle mayo and fresh corn (a great dish!). Also a bar menu with good burgers and salads. Divino, a few blocks west of Sunset/405 at Barrington, is an upscale but cozy neighborhood restaurant with excellent Italian dishes. Orris is a great, one of a kind food adventure, offering the best in "small plates" and service in a small space with a sophisticated ambiance. Also in Westwood, Napa Grill, as previosuly described, and Tengu, which serves up good fusion dishes in a somewhat hipper setting.
Went to UCLA and my gfs and I love to wine and dine. There's quite the business crowd in Westwood, good happy hour/early dinner scene. Right there in Westwood you have several good options: Napa Valley Grille (California French), Palomino (American), and Gardens on Glendon (Italian). All nice restaurants, dinner with a glass of wine and appetizer will probably run you at least $60 I think.
If wine is your thing, and for the best food IMO, I suggest going to Napa Valley Grille. I can't tell you the number of times we went there for wine and hors d'oeuvres. The chef's changed since then, but I was there a few months ago and the food was still good. It changes seasonally and the ingredients are from the farmer's market, fresh and flavorful. Typical entrees would be filet mignon, beef shortribs, pork chop, duck, any number of fish selections, etc. I'm sure they have a website. I was friends with the sommelier when I used to go there and they always have a good selection of wine (Napa-centric, naturally). The place is bustling all the time and you won't feel out of place if you choose to eat in the bar or dine alone at a table.
Palomino is good too, same kind of deal but a little more casual, it's American. Bit louder of a dining room. Good wine selection but not the same kind of thing like Napa Valley Grille.
Gardens on Glendon is a great, classic Italian restaurant that has been around forever. It's favored for romantic dinners and special events. I'm sure you could eat alone there, but it wouldn't be my first choice.
If you feel like venturing out to Santa Monica (not far, just about a 15 min drive max), your options grow exponentially. Cheers!
You might give Brass Cap a try based on a recent review on the board:
This is right across the street from the beach at the mouth of Santa Monica Canyon and would be an easy drive from your location. Just drop down to San Vicente Blvd. and go to 7th Street and go down the hill. You will probably need to jog over one street to the left as you get near the beach, (or have the guts to make a U-turn in front of the valet stand as you reach PCH - which I would not advise) and then make a right on PCH and then an immediate right on Channel where you will be at the valet station.
Hope you will post on where ever you end up eating.