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IN THE MOOD

Getaway dinners

October 24, 2002|Jessica Strand | Special to The Times

It's possible to be transported far from the city just by going to dinner. At these restaurants, listen to the rhythmic pounding of the surf, gaze overhead at leafy trees or enjoy the serenity of a garden. The city's hustle and bustle will just melt away ... until you get on the freeway to go home.

Splashes: This restaurant, in a lovely beachfront hotel, has a patio on the beach that looks toward Catalina. Try it or an indoor window seat for sunsets. Menu favorites include the spicy fried calamari and the creme brulee trio: chocolate, vanilla and raspberry. (Dinner entrees, $8 to $34; prix-fixe dinner, $66; spicy fried calamari, $10; creme brulee trio, $8.) Splashes, Surf & Sand Hotel, 1555 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, (949) 497-4477.

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The Inn of the Seventh Ray: Hollywood evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson used this magical spot in Topanga Canyon as a retreat in the '20s. Now it's an elegant health food restaurant under a canopy of trees with its own babbling brook. No dairy products are used, but the menu includes meat, fish and poultry choices along with many vegetarian entrees, and there's a special five-course menu of raw foods. (Dinner entrees, $20 to $30; raw prix-fixe menu, $48.) Inn of the Seventh Ray, 128 Old Topanga Road, Topanga, (310) 455-1311.

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Four Oaks: Up in Beverly Glen there's a charming white house set in a lush garden. Built in 1889, the house is a romantic, candlelit French restaurant today. Try the lobster spring roll with passion fruit and mint dip, or a seared lamb filet with eggplant compote in a tarragon-scented jus. (Lobster spring rolls, $19; pan-seared filet of lamb, $34.) Four Oaks, 2181 N. Beverly Glen Blvd., Bel-Air, (310) 470-2265.

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Saddle Peak Lodge: During the '30s, this old hunting lodge with grand fireplaces was a hideaway for movie stars. Saddle Peak is known for its game dishes -- try some buffalo or elk. Make sure to save room for the warm chocolate and brandied cherry cake with mascarpone chantilly. (Dinner entrees, $24 to $36; warm chocolate cake, $9.) Saddle Peak Lodge, 419 Cold Canyon Road, Calabasas, (818) 222-3888.

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