That rustle you've been hearing in the air isn't an early spring breeze but the sound of contracts, bills of sale, real estate listings and out-of-business notices in and about the local restaurant trade in recent weeks.
Two big changes first: The elegant L'Ermitage in West Hollywood--founded by the late Jean Bertranou more than a decade ago and run since his death by a reportedly uneasy coalition of his widow, Liliane, and his nephew, Patrick--has changed hands. The establishment--which virtually introduced, lest we forget, high-quality contemporary French food to Southern California--has been sold to a 27-year-old Tahitian-born pearl-business heiress named Dora Fourcade. Longtime L'Ermitage chef Michel Blanchet, happily, will stay at the ovens--he is easily one of the town's three or four best French chefs--and a major redesign of the interior by Claude Le Court is planned.
Meanwhile, down Wilshire way, the old Perino's building and the old Perino's name have been taken over by Italy's Interconvention hotel and restaurant chain, with the firm's G. Billi and Carlo Bondinelli as general manager and project coordinator, respectively. Old Perino's hands will perhaps be pleased to learn that the decor, though refurbished, will greatly resemble the original restaurant, that 14-year Perino's veteran Mike Olmeda will return as executive chef, that 29-year Perino's veteran Charles Lang will return as maitre d'hotel , and that the food will be "continental" and northern Italian and will include a number of old Perino's specialties. As for the rest of us, we can only shake our heads in wonderment that anybody would be so out of touch with the state of contemporary West Coast restauration as to start up a big-deal eating place in this style in 1986--and to wish the restaurant the best of luck, because it is certainly going to need it.