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SOCIAL CLIMES / UP ALL NIGHT

Winging It : DC3, the Santa Monica Airport restaurant, has a little of everything. Jet on over for a jazz combo, balcony dining and child care.

August 14, 1994|HILLARY JOHNSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The view is terrific.

The jazz group jams.

The ambient lighting makes everyone look good.

The collection of contemporary art is well-chosen and inspired, occupying a cavernous postmodern space that is a cross between a tasteful living room and a museum.

The salmon in Dijon cream sauce is divine, and the kids, if you've got 'em, are somewhere else out of earshot, being entertained and fed on the house.

Not bad, one might say, for an airport restaurant.

DC3, the restaurant and jazz bar at the Santa Monica Airport, is something of an all-purpose evening spot.

The balcony overlooking the runway would be a perfectly reasonable place to propose marriage, especially around sunset, when the planes are taking off into the sunset through wispy clouds and the strains of the Dialect Quartet are wafting out on the evening air.

And it would be just as good a place to go with the kids a few years later, for a whine-free dining experience.

All this for about what you'd pay for a bottle of Inglenook Chablis and a piece of leathery veal in canned marinara just down the road at Los Angeles International Airport.

Every Tuesday through Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. DC3 offers free supervised child care and a three-course prix fixe meal for parents who are undoubtedly too frazzled to order for themselves.

The children are plied with pizza and Caesar salad, then given a tour of the adjacent Museum of Flying, including a ride in a simulator that will take them flying, surfing and downhill skiing.

Any munchkin out of diapers is welcome.

Make it Wednesday or Thursday, and you'll be entertained by the Dialect Quartet, featuring Jon Whinney, Paul Astin, Chris Wilson and a host of regular guest musicians for variety.

"Finding the band was kind of the story of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears,' " says Jim Ryan, assistant general manager.

"The acoustics here are kind of tricky. The first band was too loud, the second played too soft, and the third--the Dialect--was just right."

The band starts up at 5:30 p.m. for what may be the best happy hour in town, running from 4 to 7 and featuring complimentary hors d'oeuvres and pizza made to order from a special menu.

"It's real food," Ryan explains, "served at your table by a real waiter."

For those whose tastes and budgets favor the unreal, there is the Saturday night Helicopter Tour and dinner package.

*

Where: DC3, 2800 Donald Douglas Loop N., Santa Monica (hidden just off 28th Street south of Ocean Park Boulevard); (310) 399-2323.

When: Jazz every Wednesday through Friday, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturdays until 11 p.m. Free child care Tuesday through Thursday, 6-9 p.m. Happy hour 4-7 p.m.

Cost: Prix Fixe dinner $19.95. Drinks $4. Helicopter packages from $125 per person.

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