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A Flourish of Trumpets for Eclectic and Kooky Trumps

November 29, 1986|RUTH REICHL

It's 6 o'clock on a Friday night and plenty of swell cars are pulling into the driveway at Trumps. The valets whisk them away as fast as they can while their occupants brush the wrinkles off their incredible clothes and make their way to the bar. These people are not here for dinner--it is far too early--but merely to relax in one of the hottest bars in town.

It's not an easy task. The crowd is three deep and just a pretty face won't get the bartenders' attention; there are plenty of pretty faces.

"You'd think they were giving away free hors d'oeuvres," says someone in the crowd.

"Are you kidding?"is the reply. "Have you looked at the prices?"

"Oh, who cares," says another voice. (It is hard to tell who is saying all this, the crowd is that thick.) Meanwhile, my friend Pat, in from New York, takes a long look around, heaves a satisfied sigh and says, "Now this is L.A."

Trumps is L.A.--an eclectic and kooky mix that attracts all the cognoscenti, from movie stars to business execs to secretaries on the prowl. The place is so popular that this month two new dining rooms and a garden terrace opened to enable them to feed more fans. Meanwhile, the bar remains constantly crowded with patrons drinking some pretty spiffy drinks (I'm partial to the margaritas), lounging around on oversized sofas (it's a very comfortable bar), ogling the art on the walls (modern and constantly changing), and trying to figure out which of the upscale snacks is No. 1.

"Only in L.A. would you find this kind of food," says Pat, perusing the menu. She skips over the caviar and champagne offerings, and barely glances at the shrimps and all that fresh healthy stuff on the new seafood menu. She zeros in on quesadillas filled with brie and green grapes. "Wonderful," she cries when this arrives. It is--as is the improbably delicious concoction called "sweet pea guacamole" that is served on the side. "Does that mean it has less calories?" wonders my friend, deciding that in that case she can splurge on onion rings as well. These, she claims, are the best she's ever eaten.

Next to us a woman is saying, "I always come here before dinner and then order so much I never even bother about dinner." This is not surprising, considering that she is eating a peanut brittle sundae so large that many people would feel obliged to skip the next two meals, at least. "I don't usually eat this so early in the evening," she confides. "What I really like is to come here late at night and just have a drink and dessert. You know, lots of times I even see celebrities."

And that, of course, is the ultimate appeal of this bar. They've got good drinks and great food and rather wonderful art. The bar is big enough to be comfortable, but small enough so that you can see everybody in the room. All of that would make it a good bar. But what makes it a great bar is the fact that when somebody says, "Isn't that Morgan Fairchild over there?"--there's a possibility that it might be.

Trumps, 8764 Melrose Ave., (213) 855-1480.

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