Sometimes the ceremony of welcoming in the new year requires all of the amenities that tradition offers: confetti, balloons, noisemakers and lots and lots of people. If you can't picture the family living room as the proper arena for such a din, here are a few recommendations for other places in town in which to pop Champagne corks in style.
At the Grand Atrium in the Filmland Corporate Center, Culver City, the spirits of Fat Tuesday will arrive at the same time as the new year with "Mardi Gras Midnight Madness." New Orleans French quarter decor and dancing to live Dixieland music complement a five-course Cajun-style dinner including: jumbo shrimp remoulade with shrimp flown in fresh from New Orleans, crawfish bisque with cognac and baby Cornish game hen with oyster dressing and Madeira sauce served with cabbage and blackeyed peas (according to Cajun tradition, eating cabbage brings wealth, blackeyed peas bring health).
The Grand Atrium, the Filmland Corporate Center, 10000 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (213) 280-1201. Open on New Year's Eve from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Full bar. Valet parking. All major credit cards. Special New Year's package excluding drinks, $50 per person. Must be paid in advance .
Those who long for the tradition of a big band playing auld lang syne, the Grand Ballroom at the Marina Beach Hotel is throwing a New Year's bash that will include dancing to music supplied by the 16-piece Jimmy McConnell Orchestra. Champagne and Oriental hors d'oeuvres will be served. Dinner includes smoked salmon Charlotte, shrimp and saffron sauce, hot turtle soup, grapefruit granite and a veal chop filled with procini mushrooms, a roast garlic sauce, mixed garden greens and pan-fried mozzarella. For dessert: fresh pear mousse cake in Williamine sauce. And for those who find that drinking Champagne makes the drive home a bit difficult, the Marina Beach Hotel offers rooms to those who prefer to sleep off the revelries until morning.
The Marina Beach Hotel (Grand Ballroom), 4100 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, (213) 301-6868. Open on New Year's Eve from 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., serving dinner from 9 to 11 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. All major credit cards. Special New Year's package that includes a bottle of Champagne, $225 per couple; $300 per couple if a room for the night is desired .
In the Valley, the Sportsmen's Lodge bridges the generation gap with your choice of a traditional 15-piece dance band or a rock 'n' roll band for New Year festivities. In the Empire Ballroom, the Gary Michaels Orchestra will croon standard favorites for dancing while across the way in the Starlite Ballroom, the rock band Maximus offers a younger crowd a more contemporary beat. Guests will enjoy hors d'oeuvres, Champagne, a dinner of beef Wellington (Empire Ballroom only), prime rib (Starlite Ballroom only) or salmon and a special dessert of flaming cherries jubilee.
The Sportsmen's Lodge, 12833 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 984-0202. Open on New Year's Eve from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Full bar. Valet parking. All major credit cards. Special New Year's package excluding drinks, $60 per person in the Empire Ballroom and $45 per person in the Starlite Ballroom. Must be paid in advance .
And if you're looking for something a bit less American, Sabroso! in Venice will supply a traditional Mexican-style New Year's Eve celebration at a price that any hungry hombre can afford. On the menu: a New Year's tamale with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds, a fresh blackeyed pea salad and an entree of either suckling pig (traditional for the Mexican New Year celebration) or venison sausages and blue corn hominy. For dessert, there's bunuelo (which is a sweet tortilla shell similar to a sopaipilla ) with a scoop of ice cream and a splash of Kahlua.
Sabroso!, 1029 W. Washington Blvd. , Venice, (213) 399-3832. Open on New Year's Eve from 6 to 10:30 p.m. Beer and wine. Valet parking. No credit cards. Special New Year's dinner, $25 per person (reservations recommended) .