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Where to spend New Year's Eve 2011

December 16, 2011|By Jason Gelt, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Globe trotters and armchair travelers can get a New Year's Eve fix at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice where chef Casey Lane and company will be cooking up a lusty five-course dinner with French, Italian, Moroccan and Spanish dishes. You get a choice of three menus — "4 All," "Pescetarian" or "Verdure" (greens). The Abbot Kinney restaurant is casual and fun (plenty loud too) and the food is always spot on delicious. The Tasting Kitchen, 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. 6 p.m. to close. $90. Wine pairings are available for an additional $45 per person. (310) 392-6644. http://www.thetastingkitchen.com.

Rivera chef-owner John Sedlar's Latin-inflected New Year's Eve menu promises something very different as he combines French and Latin influences in a 5- and 7-course extravaganza. Think scallops with maize concentration, French ballotine of chicken napped with a chestnut molé or bûche de Noël made with passionfruit sponge cake and coconut "snow." Of course, festive cocktails and champagne will be served. Rivera, 1050 S. Flower St., No. 102, L.A. Early seating (5 courses), $100; late seating (7 courses), $125. (213) 749-1460, riverarestaurant.com.

Lucques in WeHo will be channeling the Hemingway hangout Harry's Bar in Venice. The 5-course prix fixe menu starts with the Venetian antipasti called cichetti and moves on to warm scallop and squid salad with chanterelles, lobster americaine and rack of lamb with radicchio risotto followed by Harry's Bar's famous torta di zabaglione. Harry's Bar at Lucques, 8474 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. First seating 5:30-6:30 p.m. $110, second seating 8:30-9:30 p.m. $150, includes favors and midnight toast. (323) 655-6277. http://www.lucques.com.

If you want to spend the night in a glamorous venue looking out over the city, Wolfgang Puck's WP24 might be the place. Chef de cuisine Sara Johannes at WP24 is preparing a lavish six-course menu of signature dishes and Chinese specialties for the occasion. The theme? "Several Tastes of Good Fortune," which means king crab hot and sour soup, exquisite miniature dim sum, "angry lobster" fired with Szechuan chilis and not only Peking duck, but also a duo of Kobe beef. WP24 Restaurant and Lounge, 900 West Olympic Blvd., downtown. 6 or 9:30 p.m. $250. (213) 743-8824. http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants.

Spiritual new year

For those who want to enter the new year in a more enlightened mindspace, Golden Bridge Yoga is offering an Age of Aquarius event featuring yoga, music, dance and enhanced meditation with Gurmukh, Tej, Harijiwan and Gurshabd, http://www.goldenbridgeyoga.com; Shambhala Meditation Center of Los Angeles is holding Silence and Celebration: A New Year's Eve Retreat with meditation sessions, discussion and a community dinner, la.shambhala.org; initiates can take an introduction to Buddhism with Fusatsu (atonement ceremony) and Zazen (meditation) at Hazy Moon Zen Center / Koun-Ji Temple, hazymoon.com; and, very appropriate for the resolution season, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society is offering an Intention Setting Ceremony to recommit to spiritual practice with the three Buddhist refuges and the five Buddhist precepts, againstthestream.org.

Family time

Party with your kids this New Year's Eve with a host of family friendly events, including the annual Noon Year's Eve Balloon Drop at Kidspace, http://www.kidspacemuseum.org; or "The Not Inappropriate Show," a special sketch comedy show for youngsters presented by Bob and Naomi Odenkirk at Upright Citizen's Brigade, Ucbtheatre.com. Magicopolis is always a great evening, plus the night holds pizza, a souvenir bag of tricks and a midnight toast of champagne — or sparkling cider, http://www.magicopolis.com; Universal City Walk is promising DJs, fireworks and a mall-like shopping frenzy, http://www.citywalkhollywood.com; and the Fred Kavli Theater is hosting "The Best is Yet to Come," a Broadway variety show in Thousand Oaks, http://www.toaks.org.

What's better than kids and fireworks? Probably nothing, so a midnight show at Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey is a sure bet, http://www.visitmarinadelrey.com; also, the venerable Fillmore & Western Railway is hosting an elegant dinner train complete with Hollywood impersonators, dancing and a midnight champagne toast, http://www.fwry.com.

Pop music

New Year's is not a huge night for concerts, but those who are playing are making it an event. Back by popular demand, Portland's retro lounge lizards Pink Martini return to the Walt Disney Hall with their unforgettable fusion of Brazilian samba, '30s Cuban dance and Parisian café sounds, http://www.musiccenter.org; those busy folks at KCRW-FM are also hosting a good show with Jenny & Johnny and the band Cults at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, http://www.kcrw.com.

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