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?
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—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.
—Jonathan GoldGot a burning culinary question? E-mail email@example.com.