Dear Mr. Gold:
My girlfriend is an artist, and she’s working hard to teach her love of art to children. She has a birthday coming up, and I’ve been racking my brain for a great romantic dinner location that would complement her artistic interests. I was hoping for something unique. Does such a place exist in the L.A. area? Where you get to eat amazing food and are actually meant to notice the great paintings or sculptures that surround you?
—Mike, Los Angeles
There are a lot of restaurants in Los Angeles with decent art on the walls — and eating at the Border Grill, while not particularly conducive to romance, is almost like having dinner inside a painting. But the art collection at Michael’s in Santa Monica is pretty astonishing: Stella, Hockney, Johns, Robert Graham, Diebenkorn, Ruscha, as well as paintings by Kim McCarty, the owner’s wife — it’s practically a museum. The restaurant serves more or less as a clubhouse for the more well-heeled artists and collectors. The patio, basically a sculpture garden, is among the most romantic anywhere. And while Michael’s is the farthest thing from inexpensive, it invented the eclectic, market-driven style of cooking sometimes called California cuisine, and the wine list is stunning. 1147 Third St., Santa Monica, (310) 451-0843.
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—Jonathan GoldGot a burning culinary question? E-mail email@example.com.