Paying exorbitant prices for a prix fixe on Valentine's Day is doubly lame: A) you feel guilty for dropping all that loot, and B) it makes it extremely difficult to order four Baked Alaskas. Solve all those issues by getting a reservation of one of these thoughtfully a la carte restos
Gladstones (17300 Pacific Coast Highway; Malibu; 310.454.3474) The recently renovated classic Malibu-shore seafoodery's opting for their standard menu only on V-Day, w/ raw-barness including oysters and uni as well as cooked dishes like striped bass w/ andouille sausage & clams, available both on the beautiful sea-breezy patio or the Cape Cod-esque dining room -- the perfect end to your (vampire) weekend.
The full menu's at Gladstones.com
Obika (10250 Santa Monica Blvd; Century City; 310.556.2452) The famed originally-in-Rome enoteca features an all-Italian wine list, and flies in their Mozz di Bufala three times a week from Italy for their famed cheese pairings, as well as mains like a Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon, also what they called Tim when he retired from the Angels and got hella weird in Juneau.
Get cheesy at ObikaLA.com
palate food & wine (933 S Brand; Glendale; 818.662.9463) The lauded (and lowercased!) darkly intimate French spot's doling out its normal market-fresh deliciousness that changes weekly, just like French people.
Get your mouth watering at palatefoodwine.com
Meet (9727 Culver Blvd; Culver City; 310.815.8222) Do some more Frenching on the other side of the city, in this sea-centric white table-clothed spot known for mussels, which come in 11 different varieties, ranging from the white wine-steamed "Provencale", to "Alaska", which's got lemons, chives, and apparently wild (Tim) salmon.
The full mussel menu's at MeetRestaurantLA.com
Corkbar (403 W 12th St; Downtown; 213.746.0050) Show her you're casually sophisticated at downtown's least pretentious wine bar (which essentially looks like you're dining inside a sexy wine cask), where they'll be serving up a $25 sparkling wine flight, 40 wines by the glass (plus hella more by the bottle) as well as their straight-from-the-farmers-market fresh menu featuring pork bruschetta topped with coriander coleslaw and root beer braised short ribs served over "cheesy polenta", which tells just about the corniest jokes you've ever heard.
They don't usually take rezzies but will for V-Day; all the info's at CorkBar.com
Vu (4175 Admirality Way; Marina Del Rey; 888.523.5333) The beachside molecular gastronomy bistro's offering up its regular a la carte menu with uniqueness like reconstructed caprese w/ balsamic-infused cherry tomatoes, chicken-fried watermelon, and pork belly topped w/ root beer Jello, which Bill Cosby once made Vanessa eat tons of for no particular reason at all.
They've also got dropped room-rates at the attached hotel; click JamaicaBayInn.com for all the info