The month of February is action-packed with celebratory opportunities that include the Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day and the Presidents Day long weekend, plus it is a Leap Year, so we will gain an extra day. The Courier rounded up over a dozen fun pursuits from world-class art exhibits to new destination dining spots and great drives to make this Year of the Dragon get off to a dazzling start.
Hyper Local Romance
The first Cipriani in California has opened on Camden Drive, bringing the Italian brand’s classic glamour, Murano chandeliers and Venetian dishes to Beverly Hills. Designed by Florentine architect Michele Bonan, it features polished wood interiors with sophisticated black-and-white fashion photography throughout the space.
Yes, you can order the world-famous Bellinis from sister property Harry’s Bar in Venice, the baked tagliolini with ham and fluffy vanilla meringue cake, but this location also features a Jazz Café with old Hollywood flair. The café is open Thursday-Saturday showcasing a grand piano, zebra-print fabrics and palm tree décor, while the main dining area is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
“We are very excited to open in the heart of Beverly Hills,” said Maggio Cipriani, fourth generation of the Cipriani family and President of Cipriani USA. “In an area that sees many prestigious art and entertainment neighbors, we are looking forward to serving local and international customers alike.” cipriani.com
Sushi Note Omakase is a hidden gem located on the lower level of the Rodeo Collection. The intimate 14-seat hideaway—decorated with imported wood from Japanese Hinoki trees—feels like a secret find on your walk through an alley in Tokyo. A two-hour dining experience includes exceptional imported Japanese market fish prepared by master Head Chef Kuninobu Saito. Selections can range from white shrimp with caviar to scallops with yuzu zest and black truffle salt. And, while you can order premium sake and even a rare bottle for $8,000, the team likes to pair the 20-course omakase meal with an in-depth European wine list. sushinoteomakase.com
French winemaker and owner of Heritage Fines Wines on Canon Drive Jordane Andrieu has recently expanded to West Hollywood with a full-service European restaurant. Arden on Santa Monica Boulevard features an open-air dining and bar area surrounded by roses from the walls to the ceiling setting a romantic tone. Top entrees include lobster risotto with truffle, Champagne and edible flowers, but they are also offering a special three-course prix fixe dinner on Valentine’s Day, accompanied by a glass of Champagne and a rose. ardenweho.com
If you would like to keep the evening going, grab a nightcap just a few doors down at the intimate new bar Holy Water, designed by Thomas Schoos and co-founded by Woody Harrelson (who also co-owns The Woods next door) serving conscious craft cocktails with a kick. holywaterweho.com
Across the street from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Amour is a new brasserie on Beverly Boulevard that has several different dining experiences. Choose from an indoor tasting menu at La Salle à Manger, à la carte menus on Le Patio, or Le Jardin is another outdoor option. Chef Dani Chavez-Bello’s (El Bulli, Bouley at Home) menus marry a mix of classic French dining such as traditional boeuf Bourguignon, and lighter options such as steak tartare, sole Meuniere or lavender duck breast. amourweho.love
Local Art Pursuits
For a truly unique outing with loved ones of all ages, Luna Luna: Forgotten Fantasy, located just east of the DTLA Arts District is the first-ever art amusement park. Originally conceived in Hamburg, Germany in 1987, the exhibit features rides, attractions, and interactive installations such as a full-size Ferris wheel by Jean-Michel Basquiat, a carousel by Keith Haring, and Enchanted Tree, a pavilion by David Hockney. Other iconic artists’ works on display include Roy Lichtenstein and Salvador Dali. This radical collaboration of artists from a wide range of notable art movements was transported to Los Angeles by Drake’s entertainment company DreamCrew. Lunaluna.com
For an equally diverse dining adventure, head to Level 8 at the Moxy/AC Hotel just across the street from the Crypto Arena for a one-of-a-kind dine-around by brothers Jonnie and Mark Houston, who are known for quirky and clever nightlife themes around Los Angeles.
You can keep the carnival atmosphere from Luna Luna going with the Golden Hour carousel bar by the pool; then move on to Mr. Wanderlust cocktail lounge with a live piano player that rotates on a stage from behind the bar, and nibble on hot pots from Lucky Misu reachable by a secret entrance from the bar-lounge. The French-Japanese teppanyaki cuisine at Maison Kasai is overseen by Chef Joshua Gil (formerly Mirame in Beverly Hills) along with Mother of Pearl, an alfresco oyster and ceviche bar. South American live-fire grill cooking from Qué Barbaro and Brown Sheep Taqueria on the terrace are both helmed by Chef Ray Garcia. Sinners y Santos is a cathedral-inspired nightclub with a speakeasy entrance encased in golden skulls. So, plenty of entertaining options and many are offering Valentine’s Day specials. level8dtla.com
Also downtown at the Convention Center, the LA Art Show will take place from Feb 14-18 with seven participating art institutions for their non-commercial platform, DIVERSEartLA. The solo projects, exploring the intersection of memory, humanity, and AI include MOAH’s “Repairing the Future,” from Osceola Refetoff, AAL Museum (Santiago, Chile) presenting “Be Water” led by contemporary artist, Antuan and Red Line Contemporary Art Center (Denver) presents Laleh Mehran’s Entropic Systems. www.laartshow.com
Closer to home:
The Skirball Cultural Center in Bel Air is showcasing “Common Ground,” a community-activated artwork by Los Angeles–based artist-in-residence Adam Silverman that celebrates American diversity and human connection through shared meals and collaborative installations.
With the help of over 100 participants, Silverman collected clay, water and wood ash from all 50 American states, and the five inhabited U.S. Territories (Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands). He then combined these materials to make a single, fully integrated, new material, to reimagine the country as a single, unified place. The result is a tableware set of 56 plates, 56 bowls, 56 cups, as well as 56 ceremonial pots, which are like one another in form, size and composition, yet each is intentionally unique—just like each human being.
In collaboration with foodways scholar Dr. Scott Alves Barton and supported by local chefs as well as Skirball’s Executive Chef Sean Sheridan, the cultural center will host a series of communal gatherings during this yearlong exhibition, bringing people from different communities together. “The only thing you need to do to be qualified to touch this work of art is eat. It is radically inclusive,” said Skirball Cultural Center President and CEO Jessie Kornberg. “Plenty of artists talk about engaging audiences. Adam literally brought hundreds of people together to make this work and now invites thousands more to be a part of the project through food and conversation.”
Sheri Bernstein, Skirball Cultural Center Museum Director added, “In presenting ‘Common Ground,’ we hope to help bridge political, cultural and socioeconomic differences by bringing people together through the universal language of food.” “Common Ground” is free and open to the public, on display in the Ruby Commons, adjacent to Zeidler’s Cafe.
At UCLA’s Hammer Museum in Westwood, “Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea, 1960s-1970s,” is the first exhibition in North America to explore the groundbreaking shifts made by a generation of artists following the Korean War (1950–53). The exhibition features approximately 80 works across various mediums, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, installation and film.
Before or after the exhibit, you can dine alfresco at iconic food activist Alice Water’s first L.A. restaurant, LULU. The market-driven eatery led by long-time collaborator chef David Tanis, advocates for school-supported agriculture, and former First Lady Michelle Obama was an early guest for the rotating three-course prix fixe menu. You can also sit at the bar and order à la carte amid the tables of fresh produce and fruits that will likely show up in your garden lettuce salad or fruity cocktail. On Valentine’s Day, they are hosting a special prix-fixe dinner with Scribe Winery in Sonoma celebrating their newest releases, including the 2023 SCRIBE Rosé, paired with a 5-course menu.
Worth the Drive
San Ysidro Ranch celebrated its 130-anniversary in 2023 and continues with a new “Romance at the Ranch” package offering a four-course candlelit dinner, in-room Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé, chocolate-covered strawberries, one dozen roses, along with a couple’s activities including horseback riding, bicycle rentals with a to-go picnic basket, an in-room wine tasting with charcuterie, or a couples massage with oils made from citrus grown onsite. You can also book the Kennedy Cottage where JFK and Jackie spent their honeymoon in 1953.
If you just want to go for lunch or dinner, The Secret Cellar is a new seasonally inspired tasting menu by Executive Chef Matthew Johnson taking place amid candlelit in the 14,000-bottle wine cellar. Right next door is the 1920s-style The Speakeasy at Plow & Angel where you can listen to live jazz music with a mix of libations named after famous speakeasies of the past. They also offer an interactive absinthe service with a traditional tableside fountain or rare flights including a bourbon tasting with Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year, Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year, and Colonel E.H. Taylor.
When you need a break on a drive from L.A. to Santa Barbara, consider stopping for a meal at newcomer Ox and Ocean inside Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach, an all-suites ocean front resort and part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. The restaurant is led by Executive Chef Damien Giliberti (formerly of Santa Barbara’s Finch & Fork), who incorporates flavors from American, Hispanic, and Asian cuisines with staples like beer-battered fish tacos with chipotle aioli, or eggs benedict with corn fritters and chipotle hollandaise. For Valentine’s Day, there will be a seafood paella and ribeye Tomahawk special. With Oxnard being famous for its local strawberries, the chef pays homage to the region with a signature strawberry hand pie dessert and an elevated take on a childhood staple pop tart with McConnell’s vanilla bean ice cream, and dulce de leche. An expansive indoor-outdoor bar sets the scene for the venue’s perfect sunsets and a selection of local beer and wine. zacharidunes.com
If you are driving down south to catch an early glimpse of the famous flower fields at Carlsbad Ranch, which had an early bloom this year, the Beach Terrace is a newly refurbished hotel right on the sand in the area known as the “Village by the Sea” just outside San Diego. The boutique 48-room property features an oceanfront Shorebreak Pool with firepits and is the only hotel in the area where you can fall asleep and wake up to the soothing crashing waves. Check out the “Celebrate Us” package for the long weekend with a gourmet gift box and other treats. beachterraceinn.com