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The Restaurant Guide 2003

The View

June 22, 2003|S. Irene Virbila

At Hotel Mondrian in West Hollywood, Gallic design whiz Philippe Starck has turned the vast outdoor terrace into a witty take on the Tuileries. In Asia de Cuba, the hotel's Asian-Latino fusion restaurant, he frames the city lights between an allee of comically oversized flowerpots planted with ficus trees and pink bougainvillea vines. The terrace overlooks the Sky Bar, where hotel guests and hipsters loll on mattresses sprinkled around the pool.

Long Beach may not attract the glitterati, but who cares when you've got an unobstructed view of city and sand from The Sky Room at the top of The Breakers, a Deco-era building. With the eye candy comes the illusion of a 1940s-era supper club. The cocktails are correct, the food continental and, on weekends, you can dance to a small swing orchestra.

If you ever find yourself stranded at Los Angeles International Airport, remember Encounter, the delirious space-themed restaurant and bar atop the futuristic building--the one that looks something like a stranded flying saucer on legs. I might skip dinner, but a drink at the Jetsons-inspired bar is swell.

On a clear day from The Restaurant at the Getty Center, you can see all the way to the Palos Verdes peninsula and beyond. It's a billion-dollar vista at what may well be the best museum restaurant in the country.

Moonshadows in Malibu has been around forever, but a new look and a new chef have given the place a sorely needed upgrade. Lounging on one of the Southeast Asian rolling chaises on the deck, you can feel the salt spray. All you need is a bottle of champagne and a couple dozen oysters on the half shell.

The Lobster sits at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier, cantilevered over the sand. From the ledge of the outdoor bar, you get an unbeatable view of the California cliche: Pacific, sand and the palms of the Palisades with the candy-colored lights of the Ferris wheel in the background.

Studio, at the new Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, is set in an Arts-and-Crafts-style bungalow on a bluff overlooking the cobalt and turquoise sea. At dinner, arrive early enough for a drink around the fire pit. Or come for lunch on the broad porch facing the sea.--S.I.V.

Asia de Cuba, Hotel Mondrian, 8440 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 848-6000. Encounter, 209 World Way, Los Angeles; (310) 215-5151. The Lobster, 1602 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 458-9294. Moonshadows, 20356 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; (310) 456-3010. The Restaurant at the Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles; (310) 440-6810. The Sky Room, 40 S. Locust Ave., Long Beach; (562) 983-2722. Studio, Montage Resort, 30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach; (866) 271-6953.

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