Capo, a Rustic, Tuscan Farmhouse near the Ocean...

My friends Nancy and Marlene and I got  together to do a Good Taste review last week.  Marlene selected the restaurant.  She chose one of her favorite establishments, Capo.  Created by Chef/Owner Bruce Marder in the 1990’s, it’s near the beach in a freestanding, red-gabled house, with one of the prettiest dining rooms in the City.  It’s rustic, yet elegant, with high-beam wood ceilings, white table clothes and candles, and a bright, wood-burning fireplace in the back corner that’s used for cooking as well as ambiance. We walked through a heavy velvet curtain that revealed a warm, cozy setting.  All tables were full and buzzing with excitement and energy.  We were shown to a comfortable corner table, which was Marlene’s regular perch when she frequents the place. Capo’s cuisine can be described as Italian-style, with homemade pastas, fresh seafood, and fireplace-grilled meats.  We ordered to share.  First the Maryland Crab Torta ($28.00), followed by  Spaghettini with olive oil, tomato and fresh herbs ($24.00). We finished by sharing a New York Steak ($53.00). The Crab Torta was amazing, with mounds of crab and resembled a very large crab cake but much, much better.  We gobbled it up.   The pasta was fresh, simple and delicious.  A great second course.  Marlene said the steaks were some of the best in Los Angeles.  She was right.  Cooked and seasoned to perfection, I no longer have to travel to Beverly Hills on Canon to get a great steak.  It was world class. Other items on the menu I must try on my next visits to Capo include the Porcini Mushroom Soup ($16.00), the Duck Slider Foie Gras($28.00), the White Corn Ravioli with Black Truffles ($32.00), Rigatoni with Truffle Meat Sauce ($26.00), and the Artisan Cheese Selection ($24.00).  Yes, I...

One Pico Captures The Romance of Beachside Dining...

I  have been writing this column for almost a year now. I’ve stayed away from places that already get their fair share of publicity, preferring to focus on establishments that have been around for a while, with quite a bit of focus on one-of-a-kind neighborhood restaurants with a story and history about them. I’ve shied away from large hotels in  the past, but One Pico has always been a favorite of mine. The food is great, the room is very romantic and the ocean view is sublime.  I was there last week with a friend of mine I had not seen in many months.  I told her I was doing a review, and she chose One Pico as the restaurant. I pulled up to the valet at about 6:30p, and walked into the hotel’s elegant lobby bar.  It was buzzing, with every table filled, and there was a jazz musician playing the piano, giving the room a happy, energetic feeling. The dining room was adjacent to the lobby bar.  I walked in and was seated at a candle-lit table with a white tablecloth, next to a roaring fireplace, with the ocean view steps away from our table.  How romantic!  Unfortunately the friend I was meeting was a woman, so some of the fantasy-like ambiance was lost.  Fortunately, there were a lot of people there for a variety of reasons other than romance, so I was able to thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere without the love of my life. When my friend Paula arrived, she said I looked like a movie star, sitting there alone at the candle-lit table with my fur vest, black cashmere sweater and black cat eye sunglasses, sipping my Grey Goose Citron Martini, with two olives and a twist of lemon, up...

Michael’s Restaurant, A New Happy Party Six Nights a Week...

When I think of Michael’s Restaurant, that sleek, sexy establishment created  more than 20 years ago by that cute pioneer of California Cuisine, Michael McCarty, I immediately think of my romantic anniversary dinner with my husband, my former employer’s gourmet holiday dinner for a chosen few of us “high achievers,” and a best friend’s beautiful, elegant wedding in the secret garden.  I also think, CHA-CHING!  Michael’s is wonderful, but not cheap. So when I was invited to a Santa Monica Rotary cocktail happy hour at the place, I had to see what they had planned for the semi-budget-conscious, charity-minded business owner who loved to have a great time. When I walked in, I heard a solid roar of raucous voices coming from the front of the restaurant.  How fun!  Michael started a Happy Hour.  And it’s not just for an hour.  Turns out it’s runs from 5p to close, Monday through Friday, and 6p to close on Saturday!  Wow.  I walked into the room at about 6p, and my fellow Rotarians had a good start on me.  These party animals had the servers in marathon mode, whizzing back and forth with appetizers and libations. But these were not just your run of the mill happy hour meat ball or chicken wing.  It’s a sampling of Michael’s amazing cuisine.  For only $6.00 a piece, you can savor Truffle-Thyme Frites,  Roasted Chicken Pate with Grapes, Chervil and Brioche; Burrata on Crostini with Arugla, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Lemon Vinaigrette; Grilled  Shishito Peppers with Vadouvan Curry Aioli; Valdivia Farms Fava Beans and English Peas with Mancheco and Garlic;  Jidori Chicken and Waffle Wings with Bourbon-aged Maple Syrup and Chili Salt; House-made Andouille Sausage with beer-braised onions and whole grain mustard; and Duck Confit Rillettes  with blood orange vinaigrette and...