Because your mother-in-law is critical of your cooking. Because your mother-in-law always burns the roast. Because you've been finding Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs scattered about your kitchen since Thanksgiving. Because this year you just don't have time. For whatever reason you're not cooking or eating with the family this year, we offer our list of ten Christmas dining options to meet your holiday needs, whether they be four-course prix fixes or simply enough spiked eggnog to get you through all 24 hours of TBS' A Christmas Story.

1. Little Next Door

Among the fancy French holiday confections available at the Little Next Door, the Bouche de Noel (Yule log) is perhaps the sweetest. At least figuratively. In three sizes that feed between four and twenty-two people, these festive cakes are available in four flavors: vanilla biscuit roulee with dark chocolate godiva ganache, fresh lingonberry and choco nibs; chocolate biscuit roulee with praline cream and hazelnut nougatine; pistachio genoise with white chocolate, rum mousse and caramelized chestnuts; or Kahlua genoise and espresso coffee mousse. Little Next Door: 8142 West 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 951-1010.

2. Bistro Garden

For Christmas Eve dinner, Bistro Garden at Coldwater is offering a four course menu of restaurant favorites including Maine lobster ravioli, grilled filet mignon in pinot noir reduction, and oh that chocolate souffle. $78 per person excluding tax and tip, call for reservations. Bistro Garden at Coldwater: 12950 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 501-0202.

3. Joe's Restaurant

If you're looking for a light holiday meal, just skip this paragraph. Christmas Eve at Joe's is going to be meaty. Chef Joe Miller's three course prix fixe features roast rib eye of lamb, turkey wrapped in bacon, oysters in lemon shells, and duck pastrami with smoked red cabbage. $65 per person, reservations are recommended. Joe's: 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 399-5811.

4. One Pico

On Christmas Day, the newly renovated beach-side restaurant is hosting a three course holiday dinner with dishes cooked up by Chef Michael Reardon. On the menu: celery root soup; roasted beef prime rib with yukon gold potato puree, roasted shallots, and au jus; meyer lemon tart with huckleberry jus and pistachio. $68 per person; from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. One Pico: 1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 587-1717.

Eggnog from the Hungry Cat, enjoy it at home; Credit: Photo Credit: Labelitlove

Eggnog from the Hungry Cat, enjoy it at home; Credit: Photo Credit: Labelitlove

5. The Hungry Cat

Not only is the Hungry Cat's chef/owner David Lentz currently serving up glasses of his family's special spiked eggnog in his Hollywood restaurant, he's bottling it. Take it home, serve it at the company Christmas party. Made with spiced rum, brandy, whiskey, and eggnog ice cream instead of cream, 'twill be an evening of much merry-making. Guaranteed. The Hungry Cat: 1535 Vine St., Hollywood; (323) 462-2155.

6. Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica

Come to the Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica for executive Chef Tony DiSalvo's Christmas buffet dinner on December 25th, and stay (and stay, and stay) for the $25 Wine Lovers Menu. The menu includes bottles regularly priced in the $100 area, bottles like Cakebread 2007 Napa Chardonnay, Foley 2007 'Rancho Santa Rosa' Santa Rita Pinot Noir, and Stags Leap 2005 Petite Syrah Napa Valley, for $25 each. A jolly holiday, indeed. Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica: 1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 260-7514.

7. Ford's Filling Station

Trouble committing? Not to worry, Ford's Filling Station will be accepting walk-ins at their Christmas Eve celebration on December 24th, space permitting. The choice between Ford's $50 prix fixe, a la carte offerings, and extended counter menu, which includes the pub burger and flatbreads, however, might be cause for concern, for the decision-avoidant. Reservations are also still available. Ford's Filling Station: 9531 Culver Blvd., Culver City; (310) 202-1470.

8. Chic Wine Bar

At Chic Wine Bar, an exclusive reservations-only Christmas Eve 3-course dinner of mixed winter squash soup or house-smoked salmon, sour cream blinis to start; rotisserie filet of beef with truffle red wine sauce and root vegetable ragout or roasted Chilean sea bass with saffron emulsion, and chestnut and yam puree; and yule log for dessert. $45 per person, with two seatings at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Chic Wine Bar: 5545 W Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 525-0234.

9. Oliverio at the Avalon

Chef Mirko Paderno will offer a four-course traditional Italian holiday menu on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at his new home, pool-side, at Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel. Highlights include marinated salmon, pink peppercorns, citrus salad; ravioli filled with fontina cheese and pancetta, parmesan fondue; roasted Mediterranean sea bass with cabbage and porcini mushrooms; and blueberry parfait with dark chocolate sauce, with additional antipasti and secondi menu options available on Thursday. Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., $65 per person; Friday, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., $45 per person. Oliverio: 9400 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 407-7791.

Credit: Saint Amour, in Culver City

Credit: Saint Amour, in Culver City

10. Saint Amour

With perhaps the fanciest Christmas dinner available for $45.00, Culver City's Saint Amour will re-open Christmas day to offer a three course menu featuring foie gras, lobster bisque, Chilean sea bass, truffle risotto, stuffed quail, and chestnut souffle. Saint Amour: 9725 Culver Blvd., Culver City; (310) 842-8155.

LA Weekly