Inside the Torrance Marriott, chefs toss together farm-fresh ingredients to create flatbreads, sandwiches, and well-balanced entrees that complement a wine list of more than 40 different vintages. A two-story water feature gives meals a soothing backdrop for thoughtful conversations or raucous celebrations in anticipation for a new quarterly budget report. Outside, flickering flames from the fire pit cast a glow on the zen garden's orange-cushioned lounge chairs beneath the clear Southern California sky.
Gonpachi fashions its menu of authentic Japanese fare and Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi from locally sourced ingredients, as well as authentic foodstuffs purchased from Tokyo's Tsukiji Market. Gonpachi hand-pounds its soba noodles daily from buckwheat flour threshed and milled on the premises. These freshly noodled noodles can then be served chilled with a dipping sauce as seiro ($8) or in a hot broth as kake soba ($8–$9). Gonpachi in Beverly Hills also practices the slow-cooking robata-style, preparing delicacies such as Chilean sea bass ($6) and bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes ($3) over the gentle firelight of a traditional oak-charcoal pyramid. On the other end of the cooked spectrum, sushi fans can trap spicy tuna rolls ($5) between the bamboo chopsticks in their hands or the insect pincers on their faces. Chopsticks also protect hands from the flavor explosion of the dynamite roll ($16).
Zuri Wine Tasting's wine enthusiast Tuanni Price and her staff travel far and wide to introduce groups to their new favorite vintages. During in-home tastings, customers can create candy-cane-colored lips with the help of reds and whites such as pinot noir, syrah, and riesling. After setting up a wine bar with the night's choices and glasses, specialists offer information about each selection along with pours. Light snacks such as crackers, cheeses, and chocolate cleanse palates between sips and intertwine delicately with the nuanced wine flavors.
In the past, Zuri Wine Tasting has also organized special events such as blindfolded wine tastings and tastings paired with movie screenings. Wine tours chauffeur groups on a motor coach from Los Angeles to Solvang, where they enjoy a mimosa brunch followed by a tasting at Rideau Vineyard.
The Wine Crush tantalizes palates with a collection of more than 500 boutique wines gathered from around the globe. During a tasting, couples can cozy up while clinking glasses graced by liquid manifestations of red, white, and rose. The Wine Crush pours a smattering of small-production grape nectars between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and every tasting gives guests the chance to taste at least five varieties.
Soft lighting and tastefully modern music welcome guests to The Wine Bar, a comfortable library of libation where patrons pleasurably peruse wines, beers, and shrunken plates. Twenty-two wines from around the world gather to test tongues with grapey glugs of Fat Cat's 2008 pinot grigio and Parone's Chilean syrah (all bottles are $30). The Wine Bar's one score and five beers include a multitude of bottled options, such as North Coast Brewing Co.'s Old Rasputin—a cassock-black, Russian-style stout infused with complex flavors, 75 IBUs, 9% ABV, and imperviousness to bullets ($6)—or drafts such as Paulaner's German hefeweizen. Because the stomach cannot digest liquid without accompanying solids, customers can snack on assorted cheeses with olives and crackers ($10) or traditional hummus with a heated pita ($8).
A warm breeze wafts over the iron chairs and benches gathered under palm trees. Lights glow on the airy porches of the buildings across the courtyard. Inside, guests clink wineglasses under a spiral of white string lights, surrounded by bistro tables topped with floral arrangements and tall wooden wine racks. CA Wine Room's outdoor and indoor seating immerses visitors in an intimate atmosphere inspired by the state's coastal and Spanish roots.
CA Wine Room's wine director, Noah Buffet, extends this local focus to his menu: he features only California wines and specializes in smaller batches from family wineries. The selection spans cabernets, chardonnays, and zinfandels from the coast of Mendocino County, Napa Valley, and the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, and there's a handful of California craft beers on tap as well. Live music often complements drinking here: guest musicians, including pianists, monkeys with accordions, and folk bands, play each Thursday, and the lounge hosts live jazz every Saturday night.