Dining Review: Get an earlier — or later — start on romance

The oysters served at The Proper in La Cañada Flintridge are flown in fresh daily.

The oysters served at The Proper in La Cañada Flintridge are flown in fresh daily.

(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

Date Night is so 2015. It can be hard to get a reservation on a Saturday night and when you do, sometimes crowds and hurried service make for a very unromantic evening. May I suggest something different? Go on a daytime date with afternoon refreshments. Or opt for a late night snack. That leaves the evening for other things.

Oysters and the Outdoors

A day hike on the Gabrieleno or “JPL Trail” is always enjoyable with a sweetheart. The trailhead starts at Windsor Avenue near Ventura Street then follows the Arroyo Seco stream bed under a canopy of native trees. Go as far as you like, then turn around and, after a quick cleanup in the car, head over to the Flintridge Proper, 10 minutes away in La Cañada.

The Proper is known for their amazing gin cocktails but perhaps some fresh oysters and champagne are more romantic. They boast a daily Happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m. (even on the weekend). Glasses of brut champagne are $5. Oysters, flown in fresh daily, are market price (approximately $18 per half dozen).

Charcuterie and Swing

Paul Martin’s American Grill on South Lake Street in Pasadena opened about a month ago. Gorgeous interiors and a charming patio make it a good option for romantic interludes. Their dinner menu looks delicious but not cheap. Consider instead going for small bites at Happy Hour (3 to 7 p.m. daily). The charcuterie plate ($9) features local cheeses and artisan salumes. The smoked chicken wings and salmon lettuce cups are revelatory ($5). The colorful specialty cocktails are for those who don’t like the taste of liquor. The wine list is wonderful.

Then strap on your dancing shoes and head over Pasadena’s Grace Hall for “Swing Out Saturday Night!” Get close to your honey with a quick East Coast Swing lesson and a night of dancing to a full swing orchestra.

Midday Meal and a Museum

Getting chopsticks interlocked in a steaming basket of dumplings can be romantic. Share some at Din Tai Fung in the Americana. Or avoid the lines and go next door for Bourbon Steak’s new lunch menu. The roasted beet salad, the soba noodles with crab, the turkey burger with harissa and apricot jam are all superb. Treat yourself to a Golden Crane cocktail with smoked ginger syrup and white oak Japanese whisky.,

Just a skip across the street is the shiny, new Museum of Neon Art. Open Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 7pm and Sundays, noon to 5, the MONA is sure to delight anyone interested in vintage stuff. If you’re a Glendale resident, it’s only $4 with ID. Otherwise it’s $8 for adults.

White Lights and Wine

With thousands of twinkling lights strung among the trees, the Montrose Shopping Park is an enchanting place to take a nighttime stroll. Do some window shopping with your sweetheart then park yourself on a bar stool at the newly renovated Wine Cave at the western end of town. Owner Joseph Tahanian has given the place a major once-over — new flooring, paint, lighting and retro-inspired furniture. It all makes for a chic, relaxed atmosphere. Specially selected wines are available by the glass or bottle. There’s no menu yet so ask for prices. Tahanian promises a snack menu by publication, including some world-class chocolate. In addition, having food delivered from eateries in Montrose is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. There’s even a big, wooden table to spread out the food among your loved ones.


LISA DUPUY welcomes comments and suggestions at