Paul Prudhomme isn't the only overweight institution in New Orleans. They've got a whole day that carries around too much avoirdupois-- Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday," the day before the beginning of the privations (traditionally, at least) of Lent, and thus the culmination of a whole carnival of eating and drinking and other excessive behavior. One of our local Louisiana-style restaurants, Orleans in West L.A., has been celebrating Mardi Gras since Feb. 13, with special decorations, jazz performances, a gumbo cook-off and specially priced crawfish pig-outs, among other things. The festivities continue this evening and conclude on Mardi Gras itself--for which latter occasion the restaurant asks that guests dress in costume (with an Orleans gift certificate awarded to the diner sporting the best one). Over at Homer & Edy's Bistro on South Robertson, meanwhile, a special eight-course meal plus Dixieland music will be supplied, tonight and again on Tuesday, at 8 p.m. Cost is $39 per person, and again the restaurant asks that revelers don costumes, and again prizes will be awarded.
WATCHING YOUR FIGURES: You know what I love? I love people who sit down to dinner with you at your favorite Mexican restaurant or pizza parlor or cream-and-butter French place and immediately start talking about diets and calories and healthy eating habits. I mean, I just love them. So thoughtful, so sensitive, so to the point. Now, though, I've found a restaurant that does their talking for them--a place I could go with someone who doesn't start yammering about all that stuff, or even a place I could go all alone, and still be constantly reminded of the nutritional values of what I'm eating. That place is the Lobby Bistro at the LAX Marriot Hotel--which has just debuted a "California Lite" menu, designed in collaboration with dietitians from the Centinela Hospital Medical Center, on which the calories, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium contained in everything served are listed right there on the menu. Sole and veal on pecan rice with sauteed pineapple and bananas, for instance, will give you about 429 calories, 4.7 grams of fat, 70 mg. of cholesterol and 141 mg. of sodium. Mesquite-broiled swordfish will run 330, 0, 60, and 134, respectively--with tartar sauce a bit extra. Even items on the salad bar are thus quantified, even artificial sweetener and non-dairy creamer! I love this idea. Just like I love those people I was talking about earlier. Yum, yum, yum.