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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

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I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day, which is strange because I’m an avid fan of romance and I’ve never been without a boyfriend since I was fifteen! (Different ones over the years, of course, but never one who actually liked me.) It always seems just a tad corny to me. People should show each other that they are loved all the time, not just on some mandatory day. Plus, I hate the pressure of having to go out for it, unless there’s something creative to do.

To that end, last year Mr. X and I went to see “ Lady and The Tramp” at the El Capitan. It was the best thing I‘ve ever done on that day. They even gave us Valentine’s cards as we entered! And Mickey and Minnie danced a waltz and paper hearts were showered on the audience. I’m not kidding about how perfect it was. Even Mr. X loved it! (An hour after I wrote this paragraph, I found out that the digitally restored animated Disney version of “Peter Pan” will be playing there this Valentine’s Day! I guess you all know where to find me on Feb. 14.)

For those of you who aren‘t as (youthful, immature, young-at-heart, nuts; you pick the adjective) as I am, I came up with some other ideas. I hope they help those in need. (Speaking of “those in need,” check out the last paragraph.)

BTW--I’m not a typical girl in that I hate presents of flowers and perfume. (FYI--most girls like to choose their own scents.) I don’t like the former because they die and you’re left with no memento of the celebration. (When I had my own apartment, I had a dead flower collection for a while, which I’m sure that guests found charming.) Plus, as gifts, for any occasion actually, these two show that you have no clue what the receiver likes and are just going generic on them.

And I’ve never wanted diamonds, even before I knew the horrors of acquiring them, as shown in this season’s “Blood Diamond.” I hate when people claim that the ones they’re wearing aren’t “conflict diamonds.” How in the world do they know??? Because the person selling them says so? You don’t even know if you’re getting real diamonds, unless you’re a jeweler yourself, let alone how they were mined!


That subject riles me up, obviously, so back to nice suggestions for your valentine. My one non-food recommendation is sexy lipstick, which every girl loves and can use right away, to the guy’s benefit as well. The best one I’ve ever found is Franche’s Lip Luscious in Annaiss. Yummy! Even the packaging is mouth-watering. Speaking of that, let’s get to the edible choices, which are for everybody, not just for vain chicks like yours truly.


I recently came upon the unique Brown Paper Chocolates, created by Richard Kaplan, a former executive chef from Houston. They arrive in square brown paper boxes, hence the name, and I was not prepared for what they contained. They’re thick blocks (2 and a half inch cubed, approx. 4 oz.) of gourmet chocolates with the most unusual combinations of ingredients, which include liqueurs such as Frangelico and Cointreau.


Many of you know that I hate the taste of alcohol, so I was planning on not even trying them and relying on others for their opinions. But Mr. X, my human guinea pig, tried the dark chocolate with Kahlua, espresso, and cocoa nibs and assured me that you cannot taste the alcohol at all. It just lends a richness to the gustatory experience.

My favorite is the dark chocolate with Frambois, toasted macadamia nuts, and raspberries, one of two flavors created exclusively for Valentine’s Day, with a heart on the box. I ate that whole block by myself! We weren’t sure how to deal with a sweet of this generous size, and then I noticed the enclosed paper entitled “Ways to enjoy.” What a great concept! Definitely a different kind of chocolate treat.



If cake’s more your style, there’s Randy’s Brownies and Cakes, from L.A.’s own dessert guru, Randy Fuhrman. I swear by his cakes, which look almost as good as they taste, and just discovered the banana chocolate one. Now I’m dreaming of it. It made me wish that I was Randy’s valentine!


I know that many restaurants are doing special menus for VD, but Cube has a different take on it. In addition to theirs for on-site dining, they’ve created three multi-course gourmet carry-out ones. That way, it’s Happy Valentine’s Day to both of you! This is a concept that would appeal to Mr. X, so we may be doing just that.

cube restaurant

It’s a great idea for those who want to avoid the whole hassle of attempting to get reservations on one of the hardest days of the year. Or for singles who want people to think they have someone to celebrate with. Just go to Cube and loudly order the special dinner to go. People will assume you and your loved one want to stay home and be romantic. Maybe even have a Victoria’s Secret bag on your arm when you pick it up.

[Sidebar: A couple of years ago, Mr. X and I had to be out of town at the same time, and needed someone to stay with Clarence, our beloved toy poodle. My new-ish friend, Nancy, volunteered and, though I didn’t know her that well, was grateful to have found someone I trusted with him. That is, until I got a message from her saying that she and some guy were curled up on my couch, sharing Gelson’s Beef Stew and making-out! I couldn’t believe she let some guy into my house! I called to let her know my displeasure and inquired who this male object of her affection was. It turned out to be Clarence! So, if your valentine is your pet, I totally understand.] (BTW, they weren’t REALLY making-out. It’s just what we girls say about kissing a delicious dog such as Clarence.) (Okay, maybe just I say it.)

Cube 615 N. La Brea Blvd. L.A. 323-939-1148


For those who want to actually dine out, but not at the same old places, there’s the relatively new (four-months-old) Chakra in BH, which I reviewed here in December. (Archives to the side of this column, if you missed it.) Their food is scrumptious and the special three-course holiday menu is affordably-priced for such an upscale establishment.

chakra restaurant

The restaurant itself is beautiful, dark, and romantic, and if you call early enough, you can reserve a private, curtained cabana-style booth, at no extra charge. And then you can even engage in PDAs, and no one will be the wiser. (Which would actually make them just DAs, without the P.)

Chakra 151 S. Doheny Drive BH 310-246-3999


And lastly, for those of you who want to show some love to not just your sweetheart, but to people who are in need of some compassion, here’s a kindness you can perform year-round, with an aptly-named project for February. The Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition feeds the homeless nightly form 5-8PM on the corner of Sycamore and Romaine Streets. It’s known as “The Line.”

This month’s Operation Serve Love is asking for assistance in the following categories: you can either show up and volunteer, donate in general, or sponsor one homeless person. I’ve found that usually when you do a good deed, you wind-up getting something special out of it yourself. And, as the Beatles so aptly pointed out, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Project Feed Volunteer Hotline 310-288-0090

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers. And for those who hate it, hold on--it’s just one day.

Missed one of Karen Salkin's previous restaurant reviews?
Out To Lunch Dec.28 -
Karen'syear-end review
Out To Lunch Dec. 19 -
Karen reviews Chakra
Out To Lunch Nov. 28-
Karen reviews "Jersey Boys" at The House of Blues & Frankie Valli
Out To Lunch Nov. 28-
Karen reviews Tesoro Trattoria
Out To Lunch Oct. 27-
Karen reviews Deli Boys
Out To Lunch Oct. 27-
Karen reviews Chakra
Out To Lunch Oct. 16-
Karen reviews Cinespace
Out To Lunch Oct. 6-
Karen reviews Aphrodisiac
Out To Lunch Sept. 26-
Karen reviews Ugo and Patina Catering
Out To Lunch Sept. 14-
Karen's Food Court Guide
Out To Lunch Aug 29-
Locanda Del Lago review
Out To Lunch Aug 17-
Karen reviews CUBE on La Brea
Out To Lunch Aug 9-
Karen unveils her quick breakfast, lunch and Chinese menu favorites and visits Nathan's
Out To Lunch July 31-
Karen does a NY restaurant run-through extending from Manhattan and Brooklyn
Out To Lunch July 20-
Karen talks about The Greatest Show On Earth
Out To Lunch July 13-
Karen's Dark Secret
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Osteria Latinia
Out To Lunch July 6-
Library Tea Asia de Cub
Out To Lunch June 29-
Upstairs at Vitello’s,
Jurlique Day Spa,
"Back On Broadway"
Out To Lunch June 20-
Organic To Go, Cafe 50's
Out To Lunch June 13-
Karen reviews Mr. Chow's
Out To Lunch June 6-
Karen reviews Amici
Missed one of Karen Salkin's entertainment and theater reviews?
Karen reviews the West Adams Heritage Society Tour
Read Karen's theater review of Edward Scissorhands, Plaid Tidings and quick movie notes
Karen reviews Champions On Ice
Karen comments on Andre Agassi
Karen reviews the annual Emmy Suites
Karen reviews "Curtains" and Burton Morris
Karen reviews "Water and Power" and "Hayfever"
Karen reviews "Much Adoobie About Nothing"
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Karen reviews "Doubt?" and "Fat Of The Land "
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Karen reviews "Nightingale" and "Souvenir"
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