Wine and Music: Entertaining: Going Out
By C.S. Higdon
Nestled in the elite and intimate setting of Malaga Cove in Palos Verdes Estates, California is a rare and wonderful culinary find for the discerning wine and music aficionado: La Rive Gauche. At first, you have to wonder why a restauranteur would willingly choose a location so far from a main road, with almost no visible signage, tucked away behind a local city hall, in one of Southern California's more remote communities. However, you wonder only as long as it takes you to taste the food, drink the wine, and listen to the music! If he had put this restaurant in and easy to find location, then he'd have people lined up around the corner for days and he'd never go home to rest.
La Rive Gauche has been treating the locals and a few lucky outsiders for twenty nine years. I say "lucky outsiders" because in Southern California if you're not a couple of miles from a freeway it can feel like you're in another state! Since the Palos Verdes Peninsula is very far from a freeway to most locals it might as well be in another country. I suggest that you bring your passport, because La Rive Gauche has been serving its clientele for a generation despite its imagined inaccessibility. A truly unique experience awaits you.
The inaccessibility, however, is only imagined. Malaga Cove is all of 5 minutes from Redondo Beach at the southern end of the Santa Monica Bay, a 50 mile stretch of beaches, piers, and marinas to the west of Los Angeles. Malaga Cove offers its visitors a stunning view of the entire Bay both day and night. Other spots of interest in Palos Verdes include Point Vicente Lighthouse on the southwestern tip; Long Point, the location of the original Marineland; Portuguese Bend, a continually moving land mass; Catalina Island; Wayfarers Chapel; and finally the new Donald Trump Golf Course & Country Club. Along the way you get treated to breathtaking ocean, coastal, and cliff views.
So it only seems appropriate that one of the finest restaurants in Southern California is tucked away in this idyllic setting. La Rive Gauche offers the discerning wine and music enthusiast an extremely deep 48 eight page wine list with representatives from around the world. While most are reasonably priced, some of those bottles sell for as much as $10,000! And the restaurant got it right by providing live piano entertainment each evening, featuring well played standards to accompany the consumption of excellent victuals and superb wine. In fact, the walls are covered with years of Wine Spectator awards and celebrity photographs, giving you a clue as to this restaurant's longevity.
Although the specialty of the house is Coquille St. Jacques, I was in the mood for meat and opted for a truly excellent Filet Mignon covered in French Blue Cheese sauce. Before that arrived, I enjoyed escargot that was fit for a king. To finish, I reluctantly agreed to and later thoroughly consumed a classic French dessert: Crème Brulee. I experienced all of this in a quaint, romantic atmosphere, enhanced by candlelight and fresh flowers on each table. Despite all of this excellence, you pay reasonable prices and are treated elegantly by the wait staff. One item of note: With the exception of a single house brand, all wines are served by the bottle. La Rive Gauche is a wine a music lover's dream, particularly since you get to experience both in a very relaxed and quiet atmosphere. It's located at 320 Tejon Place, Palos Verdes Estates (if you have navigation, you'll need it), is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner from 11 AM to 10 PM except Monday, when it's open only for dinner, and Sunday when it's open only for brunch. Call 310-378-0267 for reservations and information.
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