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DineLA: Baleen

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For my final DineLA menu, I thought I should try something in my home town. For years, Redondo Beach was known for fantastic breakfasts and Mexican food, but not much else. For fancy dining you were looking at standard surf-and-turf - Tony's The Chart House, etc. Only in the early 90s when the Westside had filled up did gentrification move down the coast, bringing nouvelle cuisine along for the ride.

Sometimes it seems like this style of cuisine is still finding its sea legs in the South Bay. And that seems to be the case at Baleen. You could not ask for a more romantic location. The lights dancing on the water of the harbor scream romance (and sometimes they scream, "OK, I wore my good dress - now where's the damn engagement ring!).

The interior is perfection, following the tropical woven-placemat monkeys-in-palm-trees theme that has been so popular in home decor recently. Candlelight gives the room a warm glow, and the leather chairs are extremely comfortable for a restaurant. When the weather is cool, sit in the main room - in the summer, the patio will afford a beatiful view and cool ocean breezes. The service at Baleen is first-rate. The waiter was charming, efficient and friendly, with impeccable timing.