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Romantic ocean view w/ a 'wow' effect

I've been looking thru the board the last few days trying to come up with a 'welcome to LA' spot to wow a gentleman friend visiting from DC. He'll be flying in on a Thursday and I'm going to ask him to meet me someplace near the ocean around sunset. Now comes the difficult part -- where to meet! I'd like an environment that is exciting, romantic, even a little dramatic w/ an LA flair. But nothing too intimate (but, please, if you have recommendations I'll take them to use another evening during his stay). Anyway, so far all I can come up with is Casa del Mar. This would be fine if we were simply meeting for cocktails but I'm not crazy about the food there. Btw, we're in our mid-40s and he's a typical washington type, in other words, he's not super casual. Neither am I for that matter, but given I'm a true Angeleno at heart, I have lots of range. ;-) In any event, thanks in advance for any suggestions you have!

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  1. How about Beau Rivage in Malibu or the Lobster in Santa Monica? Cafe Del Rey is also a good place to eat near LAX with a mild romantic vibe, but not a true ocean view, it's a marina view.

    1. the penthouse in the huntley hotel has a gorgeous view and packs a wow...at least I think it does!

      2 Replies
        1. re: omgirlie

          i'd get drinks at the huntley, then head across to the lobster for dinner!

        2. why not go the whole 9 yards at meet at geoffrey's or sunset restaurant. if wanting a little more casual how about paradise cove cafe

                1. re: MalibuSky

                  Divine view and food, worth the drive even if you have to take a taxi. Also wait staff and Maitre D are soooooooo nice.

              1. if he is flying in on a thursday and this is dinner thursday, then geoffrey's is not your call...it is a twenty or thirty mile drive up the coast...neither is beau rivage...he will feel like he is driving to san francisco or something...i would say consider capo, the outside patio at michael's, ivy at the shore on ocean, catch at casa del mar, chinois on main, chaya venice, maybe piccolo...all very LA places near the beach and fun things to see if you walk around...i have never had a good meal at the lobster but that is not a crazy suggestion either...

                1. Thanks everyone! I love the idea of Geoffrey's, but I think I'll save it for another day. Since he'll still be on east coast time, esp. after a long flight, my gut tells me someplace a little closer is probably best. The Lobster is also a good idea. I haven't been there in years though. Would you consider it comfortable? I went to the Huntley a few times about 10 years ago and it was very much a happy hour atmosphere, which is fine if I were meeting my girlfriends, but I'm hoping to find something a little bit more low key, even a little alluring. Any other thoughts? Thanks again everyone.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: yoginla

                    The Huntley was redone last year so it's completely different from what you remember as Toppers. It's a beautiful space and I agree with others recs to start out with a drink there at sunset and then head somewhere else for food. You can see pictures/menu here:

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      the huntley has changed. but the ivy at the shore is a good idea too.

                      1. re: woofer

                        just had dinner at ivy at the shore last wednesday.
                        i'd take it off the list. . .

                      2. re: mollyomormon

                        Wow, the Huntley HAS changed - it's perfect - thank you!!! Now to decide where to go for dinner. Or if we have dinner at the Huntley somewhere interesting to walk to afterwards. I like the idea of walking in the area since we're meeting there. Many thanks guys!

                        1. re: yoginla

                          as i suggested, don't do dinner at the huntley... the food is superior at the lobster and you'll still have the view :)

                          1. re: Emme

                            The Lobster isn't very pretty inside and feels corporate, but the view is great and the food is definitely superior to the food at Penthouse.

                            1. re: mollyomormon

                              Molly, that's how I remember it too. It wasn't comfy but if the food is good (I remmber it being OK) I think I can give up comfort since Huntley's ambiance is so lovely.

                      3. re: yoginla

                        casa del mar lobby bar. low key and nice.

                        1. re: yoginla

                          i don't recall the name, but i had a nice evening of vino + fondue + firepit at a santa monica hotel restaurant on the beach..

                          1. re: melangeles

                            That would be Ocean + Vine. The inside of the restaurant is a little stark but there is a firepit inside as well as outside that was great for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Nice views outside and through the windows. The food was terrific when it first opened--with a great manager/wine mistress (her term). Prices shot up dramatically and I have not been back in about a year.

                        2. OK - I'm going to follow Emme's recommendation - drinks at the Huntley; dinner at Lobster. If you guys aren't too bored w/ me yet, can you help me w/ Friday evening/night? Since we're doing the ocean/fabulous view thingy on Thursday I want to take it up a notch for Friday night and go someplace w/ a little more 'LA edge' yet still elegant. But nothing crazy expensive. Would probably like to go out dancing or to a lounge afterwards (maybe Bar Marmount?) So, any suggestions for Friday night? (Saturday I think we'll go back to the ocean to Geoffrey's and play it by ear for the rest.)

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: yoginla

                            I think if you get seats on the back patio-ish area, you'll find it less *corporate* but that's just me.

                            Bar Marmont is a good idea. There's also Hungry Cat, Asia de Cuba, Social...

                            For lunch on Saturday or Sunday, what about heading to The Restaurant at the Getty... very LA for a very LA view :)

                            1. re: Emme

                              Emme, are you referring to back patio at Lobster? or Huntley? Just want to make sure.

                              Also, which is your favorite - HC, Asia, or Social?? I've been to Asia de Cuba in SF but not here in LA. I've not been to the others at all.

                              Lunch at the Getty is perfect and a must.

                              Thank you :)

                              1. re: yoginla

                                patio-ish area at the Lobster.

                                I think the classiest of those options is Hungry Cat. Asia would be my second choice, but in terms of combining food and atmosphere, I'd say HC, but that's just me. Another idea might be to do something like Tasca Wine Bar where you can share plates and have good wine, that or AOC for a similar feel.

                                1. re: Emme

                                  I think I'll look into HC or AOC -- and decide based on the general feel I have. Again, thanks so much.

                                  1. re: yoginla

                                    Based on the website I think I like AOC a bit more. Is there any type of entertainment here? Piano? Jazz?

                                    1. re: yoginla

                                      If you would like some Jazz with your dinner, consider Vibrato.

                                      Vibrato Grill & Jazz
                                      2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel Air, CA 90077

                                      1. re: New Trial

                                        Vibrato looks great - I like the idea of piano or soloist over dinner. Or maybe I'll do dinner and head to the Jazz Bakery afterwards. I certainly appreciate everyone's input.

                                  2. re: Emme

                                    Love the idea of Tasca - this is perfect for your situation, I think. Although Hungry Cat is great too.

                                    As is lunch at the Getty. Emme - you're on a roll!

                                2. re: Emme

                                  Great tip on the Lobster patio, Emme. Thanks! I've only ever eaten in that main dining area.

                                  1. re: mollyomormon

                                    It makes for a much more romantic experience. My only complaint there is that the tables are closer together than I'd like. If you do eat at precise sunset time, be sure to have sunglasses on hand for a few minutes for whoever's facing that direction :)

                                    And if it happens to be on special, the crab-stuffed opah was quite good, though I tend to deflect to the lobster out of habit and force companions to order the specials ;)

                              2. Where are my manners?! Please help, and thank you. :)

                                3 Replies
                                  1. re: woofer

                                    fwiw, i did not find aoc to be the best restaurant to support romantic intentions. almost all the others mentioned above would do a better job in this regard.

                                    1. re: woofer

                                      Have to disagree on Comme Ca. Food is great, but otherwise - no - not for this.

                                  2. You are not going to want to do drinks at Penthouse on top of the Huntley and then drive all the distance and through all the traffic to get to West Hollywood or that area.

                                    Eat at Chinois on Main. Or Musha. Maybe Ocean Ave. Seafood. Michael's is better either in the sun or while it is still going down. You don't need the huge, busy, corporate ripoff Lobster after drinks looking at the sunset at the Penthouse. Or a bit further out on Wilshire, well Wilshire. If you want to keep drinking margaritas and want loud, festive Cal-Tex-Mex, maybe Border Grill.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: nosh

                                      nosh, I like all your recommendations except for Border Grill. I've been there 3 times and really haven't found anything that I have thought was good and the noise factor and some disinterested service at times has put me off of it for good.

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        I still have a headache from the noise at that place when I last ate there. Flip service, unbelievable deafening noise and really minus food. Not worth a return visit ever.

                                    2. I've eaten at the Lobster, the Penthouse and at Geoffrey's...I would still pick the Penthouse. I don't think the food is oustanding at any of those places BUT the Penthouse has the ambience and good food. You really can't beat that view or the setting and the food is good just not omg orgasmic good. That's just my .2 cents though! I think Geoffrey's is overrated in the "romance" department...good luck and have fun!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: omgirlie

                                        I want to love, or even like, the Penthouse for food but my most recent visit there last month I had chewy clams and soggy scallops and a bill that was a little over $100 pp. Someone recently posted that they had a good brunch experience so at least there's that.

                                        1. re: mollyomormon

                                          I agree that Penthouse food *always* falls short, but I'd like to try the brunch given the recent thumbs-up.

                                          I defer to Penthouse for pricey cocktails and the view... then again, my friend works there, so that also makes the experience more enjoyable for me!

                                      2. Chart House in Malibu, Right on the beach. PCH/Topanga great View. Or Dukes.

                                        1. Thanks everyone for your replies. I will report back on how things go.

                                          After a lot of thought I've decided not to go to the Lobster for dinner. Instead, I'd rather have an early dinner outdoors somewhere that's a wee bit more casual, less corporate, as many have commented. I will definitely stick w/ the Penthouse for cocktails but would kind of prefer walking somewhere nearby for a relaxed dinner at a sidewalk cafe or similar, especially since my friend will have just arrived from an all day flight, so something outdoors for fresh air would be nice. I can't think of anyplace near the Huntley that would fit the bill - any recommendations??? I realize I might need to start a new post for this question.

                                          I should also add that the other two restaurants I have chosen for the rest of the time are STK and Katsuya. I have reservations for both. I would have never found any of these ideas had it not been for all of you so I truly appreciate it and will report back in about a month once the visit is over.

                                          Many, many thanks!!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: yoginla

                                            Walk over to Musha after Penthouse for drinks if you want foodie food, but no atmosphere.

                                            Or, I think you should get in your car and drive over to Wilshire, reserve a table in the patio. That will wow him.

                                            Another wow patio is Whist at Viceroy - it's walkable although longer than you're probably wanting, a nice walk along the cliffs for part of the way.

                                            Also to walk to: People seem to love Locanda del Lago on the Promenade, and an out of towner might like it on the Promenade... I know the service is impeccable, great people watching if you get a table outside.

                                            1. re: yoginla

                                              Walk over to Wilshire and go just over two blocks east to Musha. While not an outdoor experience the food is great, the prices reasonable and the stroll is about 3 tenths of a mile from the Huntley.

                                              1. re: yoginla

                                                The key here is easy walking distance. You only have one option--and it's great. Sit outside at Michael's restaurant, on 3rd Street a block from the Huntley. One of the most pleasant places to eat in all of LA. You can also try the Promenade. There are a million places, but stand warned as it may be a long walk back if you're parked at or near the Huntley. You may also want to make a reservation at the Penthouse anyways as a back up. If the guy is anything like me or my friends he will just say this place is great, let's eat here.

                                                Good luck at STK. Have not been but am going next week. Have always found the food and service at Katsuya to fall far short of what is available elsewhere, but it is definitely a scene and is a credible place to take an out-of-towner.

                                              2. More wonderful suggestions -- I'm truly thankful to all of you. I only wish I could get out dine more often so I can try everything. Thank you!