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THE CORNER BAR

A Quiet Retreat? Well, Not Quite

December 06, 1990|JANET EASTMAN

Only an idiot would recommend that you go to a mall for the fun of it at this time of year.

Well. . . .

Just call me Stupid.

But I do have your best interests at heart.

First, a disclosure: This type of mall pleasure involves drinking and acting superior. It shouldn't be attempted by people who think the holidays are the time for goodwill toward man.

Something else to confess: I have never understood nor appreciated the concept of bars in malls. They usually serve as kennels for the other half--those non-shopping spouses who are wasting away until closing time, not knowing that killing time in malls was the reason that Sharper Image stores were invented.

Most mall bars are also tucked away inside random family-oriented restaurants, far from the madding crowds. This wipes out the people-watching factor, which could be one of the best reasons to go to a heavy-traffic area to imbibe instead of a cloistered bar closer to home.

Thankfully, there is a mall bar that offers sightseeing as a chaser.

Perched a few feet above the slipperly main drag of Crystal Court, across from South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, is Gianni, an Italian restaurant with a bar that offers a Kodak view of the frantic masses.

Its red and black decor looks like some kind of giant starting flag, signaling weary mallers to begin partaking of holiday cheer.

Some advice: Buy all your gifts through mail order catalogues and have those guys wrap and deliver them. Then, with a newfound sense of relief, crawl onto one of the 10 stools that compose Gianni's cushy bar. Order a Cappuccino Americana, a frothy mix of coffee, Kahlua, brandy and Grand Marnier, and watch the holiday hustle bustle by.

Gianni, 3333 Bear St., Costa Mesa. The bar is open 10 a.m to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m to 7 p.m. Sunday. (714) 540-3365.

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