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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Cafe Med--Go for People-Watching

September 05, 1993|LAURIE OCHOA

Cafe Med is the latest Sunset Plaza cafe shoehorned onto the sidewalk, its tiny outdoor tables the perfect vantage from which to view the parade of small dogs and surgically upturned noses. Here are sunglassed women, who wear the off-hours movie industry uniform--white T-shirt, black bike shorts, fitted baseball cap--with straight-backed elegance, as if they were decked out like Barbra Streisand in "Hello, Dolly!" Here are linen-shirted men in slouchy silk pants, eyes wandering in all directions.

"Would you like coffee, darling?" a taut-skinned woman asks her model-stud date. He rolls his eyes. "Oh, dear," she apologizes, ignoring his sullen stare. "I forgot. You're too young for coffee."

He's not too young for pizza: Cafe Med's thin crust has a youthful quality that one bon vivant loudly denounces as "carnival pizza."

Actually, the ideas behind the menu here are quite sound--the place is run by the people who owned the just-shut-down Bice. When the tagliatelle with a bolognese -style meat sauce appears, it looks right, close to what you'd get in a good Italian cafe, but the pasta is gummy and the sauce underseasoned. There are lots of salads, also steak and chicken and fish for those with an appetite.

Ultimately, in a spot with so much action, who cares if the pecorino with pears comes with underripe fruit that negates the whole textural idea of the dish--and that hidden on the plate is a slice of what appears to be Swiss cheese?

* Cafe Med, Sunset Plaza, 8615 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 652-0445. Dinner for two, food only, $30 to $60.

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