Just before Halloween, Theatricum BOO-tanicum stocks its wooded grounds in the heart of Topanga Canyon with ghosties friendly to all ages. Throughout the evening, spooky guides weave stories about things that go bump or hiss in the night while teaching the basics of carving pumpkins and how to avoid accidentally granting them consciousness. Costumed thespians, many of whom can be seen on stage in less ghastly roles during the Theatricum Botanicum's regular season, staff a haunted house and game booths, and live musicians including Tommy Santee Klaws, Peter Alsop, and the Matt Van Winkle Band perform ghoulish hits. Guests can attempt to outscare the pros at a costume contest, and for an additional $10, help themselves to a portion of chicken and waffles from Bon Mélange Catering.
A red carpet leads the way past a cluster of spotlights, and two large lacquered doors grant access to a low-lit room. Conversation buzzes, layered over the underlying thumping of music that emanates throughout the space. It's the quintessential modern nightclub, but Sunset Room is alive with old-school Hollywood glamour; it's decorated with crystal chandeliers and dark wood, aesthetic touches that are the very antithesis of stale chain restaurants or picnic tables set up in a cave. In the dining room, white tablecloths rest beneath the light of flickering candles, and small plates encourage sharing bites of flatbread and steak sliders. Reserved seating can make guests feel extra special, and live bands and DJs start dance parties on the dance floor. A team of mixologists also arrives on the scene to shake and stir a variety of craft cocktails and drinks at the towering bar.
The elegant mixture of cuisine, libations, and decor that constitutes Sunset Room is the brainchild of Chris Breed and James Ashford. Since 1990, Chris has been improving nightlife in Hollywood, first with the Roxbury Supper Club and now with Sunset. Chris teams up with James, who has a background as an LAPD officer and a real-estate man.
Choose two flights, consisting of three to five 1-ounce pours, which can be selfishly indulged or reluctantly shared among multiple sippers in Malibu Wines' outdoor tasting room. The Saddlerock Ranch Flight ($10) includes wines sourced from multiple vineyards throughout the central coast of California, expertly coalesced for complex varieties disguised as chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, and old vine tawny. The Semler Estate Flight ($12) consists of wine from Malibu Wines' very own vineyard just steps from the tasting room, and includes a sauvignon blanc and three cabernet sauvignon swishables that gracefully lube up a locavore's gullet. Bring along a good friend, a romantic partner, or a sentient Muppet, and discover a new and indulgent way to relax.
At Riviera Calabasas, chefs draw from local, seasonal ingredients to create dishes inspired by Italian, French, and Spanish cuisine. They even add Asian and South American twists. The result is a menu that features recognizable pillars, such as pasta, steaks, and fish, decorated with delicious flourishes. Chefs coat tender fillets of Scottish salmon in a crisp potato crust, garlic-infused lobster sauce, and vegetables that are seasonal—like freezing rain in winter or falling down despite wearing a classy outfit in winter. And Riviera Calabasas brings plenty of class to the table: white linens drape tables, and earth-tone walls reflect the warm yellow light of fixtures hanging over black-and-white booths in the carpeted dining area.
A full bar showcases wines by the glass, imported and domestic beers, cocktails, and cordials, whereas Sunday brunch presents eggs benedict, a pancake bar, french toast, and breakfast pizza. The Riviera Calabasas team doesn't neglect its guests' health concerns, though—its alternate menu catalogs a slate of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.
Instructors at the six studio locations teach a modified form of Pilates that uses WundaBar equipment. Like a love letter written to your elbow, WundaBar’s version of Pilates is designed to be kind on joints while improving upon the core-focused routines and harnessing some of the strengthening power of machine-based Pilates. All group classes use The WundaFormer, which has elements of the Wunda Chair, the Pilates Reformer, and ballet barres.
The DoubleTree Irvine Spectrum puts a holiday spin on food, wine, and entertainment for Santa's Wine & Food Lovers Holiday Bash. Winemakers serve samples of premium boutique wines, pouring unlimited sips while elucidating the subtleties of their varietals. Meanwhile, chef Louis Giraud assembles two-bite appetizers, which are then dispatched throughout the room by convivial servers. The party vendors also supply samples of gourmet chocolates, cakes, olive oils, and energy drinks. Tucked into various corners, jewelers and retailers peddle artisan goods, and a tarot reader lends insight on future events. Guests who want to spread holiday cheer can bring an unwrapped toy, which will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.