Dear Mr. Gold,
My dad’s in town, and he and his wife are famously “anti-L.A.” They want to take me to a special-occasion restaurant, “someplace you’d never go to or couldn’t afford on your own.” Any suggestions? I want them to have a great meal, possibly at one of those atmospheric courtyards — candlelit, magical, interesting menu, etc. — for a kind of quintessential L.A. experience. I love the atmosphere at Cliff’s Edge — but the food is uninspired. Same with Little Door. Cafe Stella is too loud. Ortolan is great, but all indoors. And don’t try to sell me on sushi — my father is a non-fish-eating crank.
—Deb, Silver Lake
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How deep are the pockets, and how afraid is your father of fish? Because if he’ll take you to Urasawa... to hell with the patio; to hell with the piscophobia. Spend your inheritance proudly! Anyway, Il Cielo has a stunning patio but Italian cooking that probably would have seemed old-fashioned 30 years ago; Bistro K has stunning food, but the patio is more or less a naked patch of concrete looking out onto a busy suburban intersection. And you don’t need your dad to bring you to El Coyote. Have you thought of reserving a table on the little patio at Lucques? It is ever so tasteful, although it is not the most bucolic outdoor room you will ever experience. Is the patio outside the Encino Lebanese restaurant Alcazar too saturated with hookah smoke? Would he enjoy the parade of steaks, organic produce and model girls at Wilshire? Do you want to blow his mind and take him to Koi?
I suspect that you’re going to end up at Michael’s, which has the most beautiful patio in Santa Monica, peppered with Robert Grahams, Rauschenbergs and Stellas. Michael’s has one of the best wine lists you’ll find anywhere, and excellent cuisine. Shad roe is in season right now. You can eat a big, oozy sac of the stuff, and Dad can content himself with one of the very best steaks in town. 1147 Third St., Santa Monica, (310) 451-0843.
Got a burning culinary question? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.