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Vive La Revolution : French Restaurants To Celebrate Bastille Day


Revelers still in the mood for a party in the wake of last weekend's Fourth of July extravaganza have an opportunity to celebrate yet another Independence Day.

Monday the French celebrate Bastille Day in remembrance of the storming of the Paris prison fortress that was captured on July 14, 1789, in the opening days of the French Revolution. In honor of the event, many of Orange County's French restaurants will offer special festivities this weekend:

One of the most elaborate fetes will take place at the Bouzy Rouge Cafe in Newport Beach, which is putting on "Les Cinq Nuits de Bastille," a five-night extravaganza that ends Monday and features food, fashion and dance, not necessarily in that order.

In addition to the normal Bouzy menu, chef Henri Mesclon will prepare nightly dishes based on specialties associated with renowned chefs from France, such as Fernand Point's mussel soup and sea bass quenelles (Saturday); Roger Verge's split pea curry soup and bourride, a poached fish in a garlic mayonnaise broth (Sunday).

And owner Tony Hermann has laid on more trimmings, from the French gendarme at the door to a balloon display to be launched from the parking lot on Sunday.

Dinner is from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, and 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Monday.

The Bouzy Rouge Cafe, 3110 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach. (714) 673-3440.

The thoroughly French Hotel Meridien, also in Newport Beach, is decking its halls with newly imported tricolor banners. A special "Vive le Weekend" package beginning Saturday is in the offing.

The weekend festivities will feature a buffet of French regional country specialties and dancing under the stars from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

This mini-vacation package, including a Saturday night stay at the hotel, is $72.50 per person based on double occupancy.

Sunday at 8 a.m. the hotel will launch the 8-K Bastille Day race to benefit the United Cerebral Palsy Assn. Saturday night, a "carbo load" buffet dinner will be served from 5 to 8 p.m. in the ballroom at $12 per person. The hotel also offers a special $60 room rate to runners staying the night before the race.

Hotel Meridien, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach; (714) 476-3001.

Sunday, at Le Midi in Newport Beach, Marica and Walter Ruttiman offer a "brunch menu bourgeoise." It will highlight the traditional beef roast, boeuf a la mode, onion soup and mashed potatoes. The $15.50 brunch includes an appetizer buffet with almost 20 selections, complimentary champagne and four and five different desserts, including fruit tarts.

Sunday dinner at Le Midi will also feature, among other entrees, the boeuf a la mode, garnished with mashed potatoes and three vegetables and will include a plat de fromage and fruit tarts for $19.50.

Sunday brunch is from 11:30 2:30 p.m.; dinner from 6 to 10:30 p.m.

Le Midi, 3421 Via Lido, Newport Beach; (714) 675-4904.

Monique in South Laguna, normally closed on Monday, will open on Bastille Day to present a "Meet the Wine Maker" dinner featuring special selections from the Iron Horse Winery in Sonoma County.

Chef Jean Luc will prepare a pate of venison to accompany the 1985 Iron Horse Fume Blanc and paupiette of sole with mousse of scallops, poached in lobster sauce to serve with the 1984 Chardonnay. Instead of sorbet, he'll present a cold cantaloupe soup.

The entree, lamb filet with tarragon, is paired with a 1982 Pinot Noir, followed by endive salad. 1982 Cabernet Sauvignon complements the cheese plate, and sherbet and fruit with Blanc de Noir concludes the dinner.

The dinner, 6:30 to 11 p.m., costs $60 including all wine, food, tax and tip.

Monique French Restaurant, 31727 S. Coast Highway, South Laguna. Reservations: (714) 499-5359.

The Pleasant Peasant in Newport Beach will touch off its festivities with a "revolutionary hour" featuring complimentary hors d'oeuvres, from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday. Chef Kevin Rawlings' bountiful buffet, which opens at 6 and continues until 9 p.m., will include soup, salad, vol au vent with boeuf Bourguignon and veal blanquette, bouillabaisse, and patisseries. Cost is $15 and covers everything but beverages, tax and gratuity.

There will also be an accordion player on hand.

The Pleasant Peasant, 4251 Martingale Way, Newport Beach; (714) 955-2755.

At La Fayette French Restaurant in Garden Grove, a special holiday gourmet dinner will be served Monday night, accompanied by music and merriment. The meal begins with smoked salmon, quiche and jumbo shrimp mayonnaise. Next, you have your choice of French cream of mushroom soup or herb-seasoned salad. The third course is orange roughy and entrees include beef tournedos Bearnaise, lobster Nantaise, rack of lamb bouquetiere, pepper steak au cognac, duck a l'orange or medallions of veal La Fayette. For dessert, sample an assortment of imported cheeses or select from La Fayette's pastries.

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