Dining Review: Dining in the New Year

Christmas is all about family, friends and food. But by this time in the holiday season, it's hard to face another shrimp canape, spinach dip or piece of fudge. I find myself longing for a full meal, well-thought out and overseen by one cook. There are a number of fine restaurants in our area that are presenting special New Year's Eve menus festive enough to properly ring in the new year. Reservations are a must.

Bourbon Steak Los Angeles, Americana at Brand, Glendale, (818) 839-4130


My previous review of Bourbon was not exactly stellar. However, I went back recently and based solely on a burger I tried, a Bacon Cheeseburger that was cooked precisely to my specifications and assembled with artistry, I'd say their newly appointed Executive Chef Kyle Johnson is doing things right. As before, Bourbon gets an A+ for lighting, ambience, table service and live jazz. New Year' Eve will see two seatings: 5 to 6:30 p.m. for $105 and 8 to 9:30 p.m. for $165. The earlier seating features six courses, the later has eight plus a New Year's balloon drop. Highlights of the menu include warm blinis with caviar, lobster "Louie," wood-grilled filet mignon, roasted cauliflower with black truffle bay scallops, trio of duck, and Valencia orange granita. Optional wine pairings are $45 and $85.

Flintridge Proper, 464 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 790-4888


The Proper encourages patrons to either enjoy a nice four-course meal before going to a party (5 to 7 p.m.; $65) or to celebrate the New Year with them (8 to 10 p.m.; $130). Options for the earlier seating include tomato consomme with shrimp and crab or frisee salad with manchego, butternut squash risotto, Arctic char with fennel, seared filet with Cognac cream sauce or truffled root vegetable gratin, and either white-chocolate cinnamon cake or fresh berries with honey custard. That'll satisfy your tummy for a night of revelry. The later seating sees all the same choices plus seared scallops or pesto grilled vegetables as well as unlimited bubbly, party favors and a special midnight gin tipple.

The Castaway, 1250 E. Harvard Road, Burbank, (818) 843-5013

There will be a special New Year's menu in the restaurant at Castaways but the real party is happening in the ballroom where the Castaway's caterers are hosting the Glitz and Glamour Gala. They'll be carving up roasts, serving fresh ocean fare, organic salads, decadent desserts and much more. Your $110 entrance fee includes an endless buffet, live and DJ-driven music, dancing, Champagne toast, tray-passed hors d'oeuvres, party favors, the Big Countdown and a midnight balloon drop. Doors open at 8 p.m. and there's complimentary parking. A no-host bar keeps the party going well into 2015. The killer view, however, doesn't cost a nickel.

Bashan, 3459 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale (818) 541-1532


Hopefully reservations are still available at the small but mighty Bashan near Montrose where Chef Nadav Bashan prepares exquisite foods with creativity and surprise. The first seating from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. sees five courses for $85 and a $27 wine pairing. Choices include Royal Hamachi sashimi or pecan arugula salad, New Bedford scallops with pancetta or cauliflower soup with crispy capers, lobster risotto or pork belly adobo, Wagyu coulotte steak with persimmon puree or Alaskan sable fish with Korean pear, and your choice of chocolate bread pudding or coffee tiramisu. The later seating (9:30 p.m. to after midnight; $95 per person with a $37 wine pairing) has all the same delicious options plus your choice of wild Spanish octopus or roasted duck breast with peppadew peppers. Just put yourselves in their capable hands and enjoy a night of fine food and drink.

Cafe Beaujolais, 1712 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, (323) 255-5111

It's been a while since I've been to Cafe Beaujolais but friends report that it's as fun as ever. Full of personality, a bit unhinged, at times maddeningly slow, Cafe Beaujolais is ultimately a foodie and Francophile's dream come true. They just posted their New Year's Eve menu on Facebook and it looks fantastic. First course, crayfish salad. Second course, your choice of ragout of snails, duck liver truffle mousse, warm oyster pastry in raspberry sauce or cream-free lobster bisque. Third, you choose from rack of lamb caramelized in a beer reduction sauce, filet mignon in a burgundy reduction, duck roti a l'orange or Chilean sea bass in Champagne, lobster Thermidor or blanquette de veau Provencal. The dessert course is still TBD. But after that lineup, how could you go wrong? Price is $85 per person and includes a glass of Champagne and live music.

Other restaurants in the vicinity that have a special New Year's Eve dinner are Canele (Atwater Village), Tam o' Shanter (Los Feliz), Union (Pasadena) and the Langham Hotel restaurants (Pasadena). Finally, just in case you don't get up until after noon the next day, Recess Eatery in Glendale is serving breakfast all day on January 1. Happy New Year!



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