Michel Blanchet of L'Ermitage, 730 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood. (213) 652-5840. Style: The last bastion of really correct French cooking in L.A. Blanchet has been at the restaurant since its beginning. Setting: Dark and muted. Recommended: Truffle soup (when in season); saddle of rabbit; home-cured salmon. Cost per person: $45-$65.
Mark Carter of Duplex, 1930 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 663-2430. Style: Cozy neighborhood restaurant serving serious food. Setting: Homey, with soft lights and mellow walls. Recommended: Minced pork salad; duck and eggplant Charlotte, rabbit marinated in grappa. Cost per person: $15-$35.
Bruce Marder of West Beach Cafe, 60 N. Venice Blvd., Venice. (213) 823-5396. Style: Swank artists' watering hole. Setting: Good art on the walls; men with ponytails; Porsche roadsters in the parking lot. Recommended: Caesar salad; free-range chicken; tuna and sea scallops. Cost per person: $35-$50.
Kazuto Matsusaka of Chinois on Main, 2709 Main St., Santa Monica. (213) 392-9025. Style: Along with owner Wolfgang Puck, chef Matsusaka has redefined California-Asian cuisine. Setting: Atomic elan. Recommended: Whole catfish stuffed with ginger; sauteed foie gras with pineapple; creme brulee. Cost per person: $35-$50.
John Sedlar of St. Estephe, 2640 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach. (213) 545-1334. Style: Minimal portions of memorable Southwestern. Setting: Adobe dining. Recommended: Tomatillo and tomato soup; blue corn tortillas with caviar; grilled fish. Cost per person: $35-$50.