Best New Restaurants
Cinch Fire-breathing statues are no competition for the creative Australia-inspired cuisine at Santa Monica's trendiest restaurant. The pork loin with roasted Medjool dates, the foie gras crusted in coarse bread crumbs, and the persimmon ice cream come courtesy of two rising stars: chef Chris Behre, formerly of Sydney's Tetsuya's and London's Mju, and pastry chef Aaron Lindgren (1519 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-395-4139).
Maple Drive A new team, including a young chef from Spago, has revived this tired institution. Chef Eric Klein spent eight years training with Wolfgang Puck, and it shows in delicious dishes like the crispy whitefish with Meyer lemons and capers. The deep-fried, fruit-filled pies are an irresistibly down-home dessert (345 N. Maple Dr., Beverly Hills; 310-274-9800).
O-Bar Chandeliers dangle from the rafters above the indoor cabanas, which are draped with curtains to shroud occupants from paparazzior to make customers feel like celebrities even if they're not. Joseph Antonishek's cosmopolitan comfort food ranges from pot-roasted short ribs to chile-rubbed tuna with sweet potato tamale (8279 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 323-822-3300).
Table 8 Chef Govind Armstrong's salt-crusted porterhouse isn't on the menu, but insiders know to order it anyway. Still, it's hard to go wrong with anything on the menu: seared scallops atop a succotash of black-eyed peas and corn; veal sweetbreads tossed with wild mushrooms and hand-torn pasta (7661 Melrose Ave., L.A.; 323-782-8258).
Patina When chef Joachim Splichal announced plans to open a new branch of his Melrose Avenue restaurant, Patina, everyone assumed he'd keep the original alive. It was a shock when he shuttered it. Still, who can blame him for focusing all his energy on the spectacular new location, in the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall? At the new Patina, Splichal still serves his famous tasting menussix courses of wild game, for example. But the ambience, which was serene in the old location, is now positively high-voltage (141 S. Grand Ave., L.A.; 213-972-3331).
Best New Hotels
The Crescent No two rooms are identical at this hotel that feels more like a jet-setter's mansion. The mod decor includes minimalist concrete vanities in the bathrooms and an indoor-outdoor lobby lounge that has become one of the hottest happy hours for the Rodeo Drive crowd (doubles from $145; 403 N. Crescent Dr., Beverly Hills; 310-247-0505).
Farmer's Daughter Little House on the Prairie meets MTV at this cheeky 66-room motel outfitted with denim bedspreads. Once popular with contestants on The Price Is Right (CBS is across the street), the motel now caters to a more fashionable crowd (doubles from $125; 115 S. Fairfax Ave., L.A.; 800-334-1658).
The Mosaic Hotel Formerly an apartment building, The Mosaic is like a mini Four Seasons, with a gorgeous marble-floored lobby and 49 luxurious rooms that feature full-length body pillows. But the most appealing amenity is the pool, surrounded by palm trees and birds of paradise (doubles from $270; 125 S. Spalding Dr., Beverly Hills; 800-463-4466).