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Isn't It Romantic?

September 20, 1987| Compiled by Jane Greenstein

In the mood for low lights, soft music, a place to have a quiet conversation? Consider the following.

LE BRASSERIE (The Bel Age Hotel, 1020 N. San Vincente Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 854-1111). This very pretty restaurant, which serves very pretty, delicious food, is romantically filled with big upholstered booths, fluted torchiers and Miro lithographs. A number of entrees, including omelets and sandwiches, clock in at under 375 calories. Or you can go for broke with shrimp and scallops with tagliarine in a light lobster sauce. For lunch, sit on the terrace and indulge your sweet tooth with cinnamon plum soup or a large almond pound cake. Open daily for all meals. Major credit cards. Valet parking. Full bar. Dinner for two: $40-$73.

IL CIELO (9018 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, (213) 276-9990). This is surely one of the loveliest restaurants in Los Angeles. The small dining rooms are light and charmingly rustic, and there's not a nicer outdoor eating area in town. Both the menu and the service are appealing and very Italian. Among the best appetizers are grilled fresh porcini mushrooms and carpaccio with truffle oil, arugola and Parmesan cheese. Fishes (most notably bronzino ) are fine, and the pounded grilled lamb chops are extremely delicious. Nice pasta, too. Open Mon.-Fri. for lunch, Mon.-Sat. for dinner. Beer and wine. Valet parking at night. Major credit cards. Dinner for two: $38-$70.

L'ESCOFFIER (The Beverly Hilton, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (213) 274-7777). L'Escoffier is one of the few grown-up places where you can dance while you dine. The general color scheme is soft peach, the look traditional but modern. The menu for the most part is formidably French and unquestionably classical. Main courses include the expected Chateaubriand, rack of lamb and steak Diane. For sweets, it's best to ignore the pastry cart and order either a souffle, strawberries Escoffier or crepes suzette . Open for dinner nightly. Full bar. Valet parking. Major credit cards. Dinner for two: $60-$134.

GARDENS (The Four Seasons Hotel, 300 S. Doheny Drive, Los Angeles, (213) 273-2222). This totally tasteful room is for lovers who like to hide their adventurous tastes beneath a quiet facade. The room is as conservative as they come--lemon-colored silk walls are covered with old time art and the place settings are very traditional. But chef Lydia Shire's food is extraordinary and unusual, from Sephardic boyos of spinach and shaved Romano to a Japanese grill or lamb served with a Tunisian brik . The service, unfortunately, is often shaky. Open daily for all meals. Full bar. Valet parking. Major credit cards. Dinner for two: $50-$100.

HASTING'S (Anaheim Hilton, 777 Convention Way, Anaheim, (714) 750-4321. Although Hasting's has a steakhouse look, emphasized by its marble-and-mahogany decor, the restaurant aims for an urban East Coast feel. It serves food which lies between Continental style and California cuisine and tends to be rich and solid: There is good quality meat and lots of splurge ingredients like lobster and caviar. The basil linguine is exquisitely garlicky, topped with prawns and julienned leeks and served in butter sauce. The entrees, such as free-range chicken breast, are thoroughly Hotel Nouvelle. Open for lunch Mon.-Fri., for dinner Mon.-Sat. Major credit cards. Dinner for two: $35-$60.

VALENTINO (3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (213) 829-4313). Valentino serves up incredibly sophisticated Italian food in high style. The restaurant has been recently transformed, and now the main dining room wears a romantically elegant air, rather like an Italian palazzo. There are two smaller dining rooms--one spare and very modern-looking, the other looking out onto a little fountain. The food? Better than ever. Go with the prudent dishes--fried calamari , osso bucco , homemade ravioli--or throw caution to the wind and be treated to such surprises as garganelli (hand-rolled horns of pasta) topped with bottarga (the caviar of Italy) or white truffles in risotto, or whatever new inventions the kitchen has just come up with. Open for lunch Fri., for dinner Mon.-Sat. Full bar. Valet parking. Major credit cards. Dinner for two: $60-$120.

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