Happy birthday, dear Napoleon? Yup, Saturday, Aug. 18, is the birthday of Bonaparte, and for the fifth consecutive year, Le Meridien Hotel, Newport Beach, will celebrate with an evening of dining and dancing in Cafe Fleuri. The cafe staff will dress for the occasion and guests are invited to do likewise. A four-course dinner focuses on consomme of crab and veal medallions with a fresh tomato concasse. Music will be by the Christian Dimaggio Trio. The evening begins at 7:30 and the tab is $30. The hotel is located at 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach. Reservations: (714) 476-2001, Ext. 2194.
The Robert Mondavi Wine & Food Center will celebrate summer on Saturday, Aug. 18, with a Midsummer Night's Dinner Dance. Bamboo-broiled shiitake mushrooms and chicken skewers with oyster sauce will be served with a Mondavi sparkling wine in the Rose Garden; then a different Mondavi Reserve wine will accompany each of the four dinner courses, which include grilled tiger shrimp tostada with Caribbean salsa, and terrine of rabbit and pheasant with chilled basil-stewed tomatoes and homemade pretzels.
The Bobby Dorman Big Band with Cassie Miller as featured vocalist will perform for dancing in the Pavilion Room.
The evening begins at 7. Cost is $125 per person. The center is at 150 Scenic Ave., Costa Mesa; (714) 979-4510.
The Natalie Cole concert scheduled for Aug. 25 at the Robert Mondavi Wine & Food Center has been canceled.
The Cafe at the Westin South Coast Plaza brings a new twist to the old-as-Bacchus idea of wine makers' dinners Thursday, Aug. 16, and Friday, Aug. 17. Instead of a staged presentation with formal seating and a set menu, diners will select their dining time (between 6 and 9 p.m.), as well as what and how much they want to eat.
This week's featured wine maker, Bruce Newlan of Newlan Vineyards in Napa Valley, will be on hand both evenings to chat informally with diners. Some of the menu choices: tarragon-marinated shrimp appetizer, broiled and served with tomatillo salsa on a bed of angel hair pasta (Newlan's Chardonnay suggested to complement); pan-fried veal medallion stuffed with mushroom duxelle, with garlic rosemary sauce and wild rice (Newlan's Pinot Noir estate, 1987, suggested).
Entrees will be priced from $12 to $17 and wines by the glass start at $4.
The Newlan menu and wines will also be featured nightly in The Cafe during the last two weeks in August and first two weeks of September.
A different winery will be spotlighted in a similar manner each month. The Westin is at 666 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa; (714) 540-2500.
Chef Gino Mattei from Tuscany recently joined Salvatore D'Abbusco at the 4-month-old Salvatore Cucina Italiana in Mission Viejo. Since Mattei is from northern Italy and D'Abbusco is from Naples (he owned Cafe Napoli in Van Nuys before moving to Orange County), they suggest that they have the Italian repertoire well covered.
To celebrate their grand opening, all during August, Salvatore's offering a $9.95 dinner: bruschetta appetizer, homemade soup or Caesar salad, choice of 12 pastas (including fettucini with porcini mushrooms; cappelini with olive oil, fresh tomatoes, capers, black olives; linguine and clams, ravioli Gorgonzola), plus coffee and choice of three desserts.
The restaurant is in the Garden Plaza shopping center, northwest corner of La Paz Road and Marguerite Parkway. (714) 859-4572.
Add Antonelo in South Coast Plaza Village to your list of restaurants touting low-cholesterol, low-fat, low-salt meals. A few examples from the new light menu: a salad of calamari, shrimp and fish tossed with red and yellow peppers, romaine, frisee, arugula and herb dressing; angel hair pasta with fresh tomatoes, basil and chicken; linguine with spinach, olive oil and ricotta; penne with fresh tuna, green peas and tomato sauce.