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THE PENTHOUSE AT THE HUNTLEY HOTEL - SANTA MONICA
http://www.thehuntleyhotel.com/penthouse-restaurant.php

Posted by Robert M. 6/23/2007 - At the tippy top of the old but newly refurbished Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica is a swank new restaurant and bar called "The Penthouse". White laquer and modern chic design captivates the space almost as much as the amazing 360 degree view. If you go for dinner/lunch, be sure to request a window booth. Went for dinner but recommend the bar instead. Food was ok, pricey, cooked well, but the place is extremely loud. I think the decor while although cool looking doesn't absorb any sound so the loud bar area and restaurant is like sitting inside a drum set. This doesn't make me old, just someone who likes to be able to have a little dinner conversation without screaming or asking everyone to repeat what they just said over and over. The other weird thing is while the drink prices are high bringing in a well dressed crowd, it is also near 3rd Street and the beach so also in attendance are the laid back shorts and flip flop crowd. Not sure why they let all types flow in other than to make for a lively crowd. Definitely a great place for cocktail with a view.

KETCHUP RESTAURANT - HOLLYWEIRD
http://www.dolcegroup.com/ketchup/

Ketchup Restaurant, 8590 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, 310-289-8590

Posted by Robert M. 6/1/2007 - I recently dinned at the much anticipated new restaurant, Ketchup, from the Dolce Group (Dolce, Geisha House, etc.). Perched on a 2nd floor space along Sunset Boulevard somewhere between House of Blues and Sunset plaza is a fun and uber hip new restaurant based on the theme of upscale and fresh Americana type food. Freshly made ketchups with your $10 fries and a cocktail hostess bringing round drinks on a cart. While although the atmosphere and LA hipster crowd was fun, unfortunetly, the food was disappointing especially considering the prices and the service was very slow (definitely a new undertrained staff but I guess that's to be expected at a new joint like this). Also, some of the presentation such as the salad was a bit much. If you like to literally eat a salad that is the size of a house, than this the place for you. Hopefully, as this places comes into its own, the dishes will get better along with the service. Next time I'm in the area, I plan to hit up the adjoining bar area that overlooks the strip.


CRUSTACEAN BEVERLY HILLS
http://www.anfamily.com/

9646 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 310-205-8990

Posted by Robert M. 6/23/2007 - On a sunny street corner of a couple blocks down from famous Rodeo Drive you'll find this wonderful restaurant with unique decor. A Koi pond runs the length of the restaurant under glass as the main walkway. Typical Beverly Hills type crowd and service. Atypical food. Supposedly inside the kitchen, there is a separate kitchen where a few of the a-list dishes are prepared to keep their recipe secret according to our server. Best dish is the crab roasted in garlic. Be prepared to eat because this dish is not for the faint at heart but well worth it. Recommend this place for lunch and then for desert take a leisurely stroll down the street to Sprinkles, famous cup cake place, or further down to Pinkberry.


PICCOLO RISTORANTE ITALIANO
http://www.piccolovenice.com

5 Dudley Avenue, Venice, CA 90291 310-314-3222

Tucked away in a hard to find side street in Venice is one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever had the pleasure to eat in. Piccolo's is a hidden treasure that is hard to find even with a map in hand. After you find parking and step past the "colorful" folks that haunt the various streets, you will find this small (just a handful of tables) gem. Although I almost don't want to recommend it for fear I won't be able to get in when I want, it is definitely worth the trip. Amazing Italian food (made by real Italians) and great selection of wines. If you want to get a feel for the food, I recommend ordering all of the amazing appetizers as a kind of sampler dinner because some of them are just smaller versions of a full plate dinner. They have opened a second restaurant called La Botte (Italian for "Wine Barrel") in Santa Monica which I look forward to visiting soon. - Review by Robert M.


CHAYA VENICE
http://www.thechaya.com/vindex.htm

110 Navy Street (Main & Navy), Venice, CA 90291 310-396-1179.

You would think that are a restaurant this size and this busy would not have a personal feel but this place does. The staff is very friendly and courteous. For the best experience, I recommend getting a seat at the Sushi bar (you can order from the entire menu). The guys working behind the bar are mostly authentic Japanese sushi chefs. Buy them a round of Sake or Sapparo and you will be introduced to a world of creations not on the menu. Patrons at the sushi bar are also friendly. I've been here at least a couple dozen times and have meet new interesting people every time. Great atmosphere. Only bad part is the bar area is always ridiculously crowded which I try to avoid.
-Review by Robert M.


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