Dear Mr. Gold:

In the downright necessary category: Where in L.A. should I go for my 50th birthday next month? The family wants something “special.''

–Betsy, Montrose

Dear Betsy:

A momentous occasion! And probably one that should be celebrated with a certain amount of grandeur, as much as I might want to suggest a bacon-wrapped L.A. street dog at the new location of Fab's or a Moscow Mule at the Tam o' Shanter in Los Feliz. Bring a magnum of Lasalle to El Tepeyac? Maybe some other time.

You could go to a Los Angeles restaurant older than you are — Musso & Frank Grill, the Dal Rae — to celebrate in the fashion that your parents may have celebrated a half-century ago, if they could get the babysitting. Even French dips at Cole's, L.A.'s oldest restaurant, followed by cocktails at the Varnish, would be nice.

Providence is a bit subdued, but will definitely whip up a dinner worthy of the occasion, a progression of fish and shellfish and ultramodern desserts that you will remember for the next 50 years. A tasting-menu afternoon on the patio of Spago is pretty close to perfect, if not inexpensive.

Or hey — if your birthday is within the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider reserving a table at the Dining Room at the Langham, a brilliant restaurant in an old-fashioned dining room that is set to close for a major remodel in the middle of this month. The surroundings are luxurious, but the avant-garde cooking of Michael Voltaggio, who uses his tank of liquid nitrogen with the abandon that a bachelor uses his toaster oven, is anything but sedate: white asparagus lacquered black with squid ink; baby vegetables as perfectly aligned as a linear accelerator; powders and liquids galore. You'll be 50. A little magic may be appropriate.

Dining Room at The Langham: 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena; (626) 585-6218.

LA Weekly