Madame Wu's Garden in Santa Monica recently did an informal two-week poll of its customers on the question of smoking in restaurants. The results? Out of nearly 400 responses, 51% voted to allow smoking in restaurants only when separate sections were available, 40% voted against allowing smoking in restaurants under any conditions and 9% said they didn't like the idea of smoking restrictions of any kind.
This whole smoking-in-restaurants thing is an interesting issue. I must write a bit about it some day.
MUSKRAT BRAMBLE: Johnny Kowalski, proprietor of Kola's Kitchen in Wyandotte, Mich., ran afoul of local Roman Catholic officials during Lent. Kola's offered a special Lenten menu for the benefit of its Catholic customers, who are required to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during the pre-Easter period. The only trouble is, this year Kowalski put muskrat on the menu--on the grounds that muskrat spends most of its life in water and is therefore a seafood. The Archdiocese of Detroit wasn't buying it. "Muskrat is meat," an Archdiocese spokesman said. . . . Meanwhile, a woman in Martinez, Calif., has filed a $2- billion lawsuit against a local franchisee of the International House of Pancakes, charging that her Mother's Day was ruined last year when she learned that a $2.49 breakfast special advertised chain-wide on television was not available at her neighborhood IHOP. . . . And before long, if test-marketing results are favorable, you may be able to enjoy pizza at McDonald's. The chain is trying out the item, in single-serving form, in several cities. The name of the dish, as if you didn't know this already, will be McPizza.
SHORT ORDERS: Chef Jean-Pierre Lemanissier, who has been on board at Patrick Terrail's Hollywood Diner in Hollywood while waiting for Terrail's new Ma Maison restaurant to open, has decamped to work at the Tour d'Argent in Paris (Terrail's uncle's place) and then move on to the Tour d'Argent in Tokyo, where he will be head chef. The situation is temporary, says Terrail, and Lemanissier will be coming back to Ma Maison as originally planned when that place gets off the ground. . . . Meanwhile, Swiss-born Konstantin SchonGachler has taken over the Hollywood Diner kitchen. . . . Abacus Chinese seafood restaurant in Brentwood has a new chef, Li-Kang Yen, most recently of the Pang Yuan restaurant in Monterey Park. . . . The Bordeaux Room has opened at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and the unrelated Le Bordeaux in Marina del Rey has closed. . . . And Michele's in Laguna Hills offers a New Year's Eve party (!) this Tuesday, featuring entertainment, an hors d'oeuvre buffet, funny hats and all the rest. Monthly parties of the same ilk are planned.
A SMORGASBORD OF EVENTS: Wine maker Warren Winiarski of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars brings his wares to the Parkway Grill Monday night to accompany a five-course, $75-a-head dinner. . . . Next Sunday morning, such chefs, celebrities and celebrity chefs as Wolfgang Puck, Lydia Shire, and Bradley Ogden will participate in the first annual Celebrity and Chef Cycling Challenge to benefit the Los Angeles chapter of Meals on Wheels. The event is officially sanctioned by the U.S. Cycling Federation and will feature top Olympic-quality riders as well as Olympian chefs. Races begin at 8 a.m., with the chefs on tap at 11 a.m. The event is free to the public and will run along Melrose, Robertson, Santa Monica and San Vicente. . . . On April 27, Kathleen Heitz will pour seven Heitz wines to the accompaniment of a six-course dinner at Monique in South Laguna. Tariff is $65 per person.
A "GREAT" IDEA: A "Great Chefs of L.A." food and wine festival is slated for Sunday, May 3, at the Bel Age Hotel in West Hollywood. I've noted how silly I think the whole idea of "Great Chefs" is in this column before, so I won't belabor the point--but I should mention that at least this "great" event benefits a worthy cause, the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California. More than 25 restaurants will participate, from Angeli to Valentino, as will some 20 wineries, from Vichon to Acacia. Tickets are $100 apiece and may be ordered by calling (213) 641-8152, or purchased at the door. . . . And Patrick Healy, chef at Colette in the Beverly Pavilion Hotel in Beverly Hills, hosts the first in a series of "Evenings with American Chefs" on Monday, May 4. Joining him in his kitchen will be Roy Yamaguchi, Ken Frank, John Sedlar and Elka Gilmore. Each will prepare a dish, to be matched with wine selected by Steve Wallace of Wally's. The price tag is $125 per person and the courses number six. Future dinners of this sort will be held in the establishments of the aforementioned and other top local chefs.