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New Years Eve on the Westside - 4 women and me

Trying to choose a place for a nice NYE dinner, with good food and a pretty happening scene, but in moderation. It will be my SO and 3 of her out-of-town friends (all 4 of whom are late-30s women and Michigan State grads going to the Rose Bowl the next day) and me a late 50s male (who didn’t go to MSU and is going to pass on the game). Because they want to save themselves for the game, we are going to have an early (7:30ish) dinner and probably be home in bed or the hot tub before midnight; but, they still do want something of a trendy LA “scene,” since the guests are coming from Detroit, Denver and Austin. We (especially I) want good food, but too cutting edge or sophisticated offerings are not warranted, as these ladies likely wouldn’t know uni from unagi or burrata from bottarga. Based on reservation availability, and my unwillingness to head too far east from the Palisades, I am looking at Tasting Kitchen, Tavern, Hals and maybe Salt Air. I’ve eaten solo at all those, but would like others’ input as to which may be most appropriate. I like the AK spots because there’s a good street scene and multiple places for a drink before the night gets too late and too crazy. Thought about Il Grano, but that would be too quiet and not hipster enough to titillate the auslanders. And Toscana is more than I want to spend. Thoughts?

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  1. Cafe del Rey in the Marina for the dinner and the scene. Then you can walk around AK if you can find parking.

    1. I think AK is an excellent idea, and would add Gjelina to your list of possibilities, if the menu and no substitutions/deletions/modifications policy works for your group. If you think a more traditional menu would be better, I'd go with Hal's.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cookie monster

        Gjelina isn't available at the desired time frame; that's why I didn't include it among the restaurants between which I'm trying to decide (though I like Tasting Kitchen as much as Gjelina). Hal's is certainly a safer bet, I agree, but I like it more as a drinking spot than for its food.

        1. Chaya Venice or Chinois would be top on the list, for me.

          2 Replies
          1. re: yogachik

            May be a bit over the price point though. Both are likely Pre-fixed.

          2. The Galley might be fun. Hal's is a good choice.

            18 Replies
            1. re: Thor123

              Never been to the galley ?

              Tell me mor Thor.

              1. re: kevin

                the galley is an old time steak house.
                their bar is the very best if you're looking for a place where "everyone knows your name."

                i've been known to drive past 20 other bars in order to get their martini and it is not because of their gin, it is because of the homeyness and friendliness of the folks there.
                best description is DOWN TO EARTH.

                imho, the galley, as much as i love it, does NOT provide anything like the <<pretty happening scene>> that the OP requested. it is almost the antithesis of a happening scene with christmas lights being strung through the restaurant all year long.
                if you think that baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil are ok, maybe their food would work for you.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  WG, this place sounds beyond exceptional based on your loving description.

                  I will hit it up.

                  Update: also based on YC's description too.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I think the Galley is a very fun lively scene. Certainly not fancy but a cool vibe, great clams and drinks. Just think it would be fun on NY.

                2. re: Thor123

                  Great happy hour at The Galley! Hot dogs for $2, Hamburgers for $4, drinks are $5. It's kind of like Chez Jay, only it attracts more the guys just off the boat in the Marina, rather than the guys just stepping away from their screenwriting.

                  1. re: yogachik

                    Yogachik, if it's kind of like Jays I will like it.

                    1. re: kevin

                      Very close to Chez Jay but the food is (marginally) better.

                      1. re: JeMange

                        Weren't they supposed to have good steamers? Or am I confusing that with another joint?

                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          Nope.

                          Don't order the steamers here.

                          If you do go, go for brunch on a Sat or Sun, and sluice it down with a litany of cocktails or martinis.

                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                            They don't have proper steamers but they do have steamed hardshell clams in a bucket, which are pretty solid IMO.

                      2. re: yogachik

                        yogachick: re The Galley

                        actually, more than anything else, it attracts the locals.
                        it attracts screenwriters (including the ones who write the soap in which one of the bartendresses has an ongoing role)
                        it attracts the retired old folk: some curmudgeons, some charming.
                        it attracts the young starving artists
                        it attracts tradesmen and mechanics
                        it attracts young folk who like the cheap drinks
                        it attracts the people who don't have a car and take the bus home at 11:30.
                        it attracts young guys who come to watch the game.
                        it attracts the people who drive there in their mercedes.
                        it's a place where young people can bring their parents on the way to the airport and BOTH the kid and the parent will be comfortable and will find age-appropriate conversation.
                        it attracts musicians.

                        i've never seen anyone from the boats in the Marina there.
                        the Marina crowd can normally be found at Cafe del Rey where they breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the bar. i'm told that the Marina boat crowd also hangs at Tony P's but have no personal experience at Tony P's to confirm.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          would you say the galley is a good enough time to drive in from parts inland?
                          say, somewhere between the 405 and the 5?

                          1. re: linus

                            not in my opinion, it's a local bar

                            1. re: linus

                              not unless you plan to be a regular.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                That won't work...linus is as irregular a hound as we have on the LA board...

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  why servorg, i go at least once a day every day...

                          1. When are they flying in? If that day, remember they are on central time and two hours ahead. Go to The Penthouse for drinks before sunset -- before 5 -- for the fantastic view. Then move up your dinner to 6:30 and maybe Gjelina is open.

                            1. The Brentwood is a lot of fun on NYE. Regular menu and very lively crowd

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: maudies5

                                Someone also once stated that Valentino is exceptional on NyE.

                                And it goes without saying: quite pricey to boot.

                              2. Tanas. And please save me a seat.

                                Are the three women single ? :)

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: jessejames

                                    Hot tub action is always great.

                                    It would be
                                    Great to
                                    Live in a hot tub time machine.

                                1. If the weathers nice, you might want to look at Zengo or Sonoma Wine Garden in the SaMo Place mall. Both very Cali vibe and decent enough food. Zengo's brunch is reasonable, don't know about NYE, though.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                    Hmmm.

                                    Dirty sexy olives, I've actually never tried these joints at the Santa Monica Place mall. But it may be a little dead on NYE, though I may be completely wrong.

                                    Though it may be an option.

                                    I'll have to think good and hard about an only in LA joint with a crazy dope scene and good food.

                                    Btw. C&T's this week? First drink On me. If you are down. I'll email you. :). If Busy w holidays no worries.

                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                        I will be at C & T's tomorrow night, 7:45 reservation. My profile has my email -- would enjoy meeting and attaching faces to screennames.

                                        1. re: nosh

                                          So sorry, nosh, just saw this... Hope you enjoyed your chowder....this season is a bit too busy for me to sneak away right now....

                                  2. Update from the OP, with some info that may be helpful to others. Had a reservation at Tasting Kitchen, but cancelled b/c the only menu is prix fixe at $190/pp., with wine pairings an additional $60. Neither the price nor the esoteric offerings would appeal to my crew. Tavern has an $85 prix fixe on NYE, which is much more reasonable, but for this group I don't want a prix fixe. Hence, we are booked at Salt Air, which I like, and (at least for now) are not planning a prix fixe for NYE. I did also think about The Brentwood, but didn't think it would be that lively, but I guess I'm wrong.

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: Wayno

                                      Do some research on Brentwood. If Madies is right it might be a great choice too.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        The Brentwood really is a lot of fun. Great bar scene, good looking crowd and no fixed price menu. Also, if one overindulges and lives in the area it is relatively inexpensive to use Uber to get home.

                                            1. re: Wayno

                                              ride sharing service that you call up via your phone apps.

                                              1. re: Wayno

                                                ridesharing service, like Lyft/Sidecar

                                                1. re: maudies5

                                                  Love The Brentwood. Great fried chicken. Also wins for darkest room in the City.

                                              2. re: Wayno

                                                The Hungry Cat is doing a three course for $85 a head. Hey, do you know if the Casa is doing anything special? That would be easy peasy for us.....we don't normally go out on NYE.

                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                  Nye is fucking amateur nite in la I'm with u getting together at friends or home better.

                                              3. Please, I seem to be the only one ignorant of the use of 'AK',
                                                so someone please enlighten me IN WORDS; i am sooo tired
                                                of communicating in LETTERS>

                                                2 Replies
                                                  1. re: VenusCafe

                                                    Fully agreed. Not everyone is an expert on certain locales. Also, please give the full name of the places and city. It's hard to look up places with only partial info.

                                                  2. Ivy at the Shore has a great NYE menu. The restaurant would seem to fit all that you are looking for, including proximity to Pacific Palisades

                                                      1. Mini report back on my inquiry. The 4 MSU gals and I wound up at Salt Air for the NYE dinner and were very happy with it (after cancelling res at other places because we wanted to avoid pricey price fixes). Split some lobster rolls to start - cheaper than, and as good as, Blue Plate's and way better than Cousins (which I'd had at their brick & mortar place in Pasadena the previous week). I had the grilled octopus with beluga lentils and a side of pearl couscous with chard. Thought both were excellent, esp the octopus. GF's fish stew was tasty, but my impression was limited to the single shrimp I pilfered. A healthy portion of corn fritters was the complimentary amuse. Service is very pleasant and reliable there, and they make interesting cocktails out of fortified wines and beer. And excellent desserts. So it all worked out (and the ladies loves the Rose Bowl and MSU's victory). Thanks for all the suggestions.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: Wayno

                                                          What's the atmosphere like there, Wayno? And is this the place in Santa Monica or Venice? I think I'm confusing the two....

                                                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                              As Serv said, it's in Venice on AK, toward the eastern end of the hub of activity. I really l like the atmosphere/vibe: casual and vibrant, but light and bright as opposed to Gjelina/TK dark. Pretty people. Nice bar area, with narrow counters on the walls for easy stand-up drinking if the stools are full. Dirty, we still need to meet up in the 'sades.

                                                              1. re: Wayno

                                                                Yes, yes we do! Wonder when tat new sushi joint at the bottom of our hill is going to open......

                                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                  After a somewhat disappointing breakfast at Mimi on Saturday (actually, I liked my crepes, but R didn't think much of her pricey scrambled eggs), we walked into the prospective sushi joint. It's going to be quite a while before sushi is being served there; the construction is going very, very slowly. The Starbucks likely will be open sooner. There also used to be a sign for an Art's Original Diner by those same storefronts, but I guess that's not going to happen.

                                                                  1. re: Wayno

                                                                    Yes, I remember seeing those signs for Art's deli too, I believe that deal fell through.....

                                                                    And just what we need, another Starbucks..... The one less than half a mile away in the Von's market isn't good enough? And I fear what that parking lot will look like after it goes in, it's such a mess as it is now....so glad my son's karate place moved and I don't have to frequent that strip once a week anymore....

                                                                    1. re: Wayno

                                                                      We've not had breakfast there before, just lunch. We enjoyed the brunch there when it was Mogan's.....

                                                            2. Count me in too, I stil can't believe I haven't made it to Maison Giraud.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                Kevin, you should come up to the farmers market some Sunday, and we'll meet for coffee, croissants or brunch at MG.