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FIRST IMPRESSIONS : A Different French Fare at Les Arts

October 07, 1994|S. IRENE VIRBILA | TIMES RESTAURANT CRITIC

Patrick Gruest is back at the same Pasadena corner where his restaurant Fleur de Vin flourished and then faded. This time he's acting as consultant for the new restaurant Les Arts. He's brought in a French chef from Lyon, Jean Marie Konnert, and is proposing a moderately priced menu (that is, if you order carefully) of light contemporary French cooking. Quelle surprise! It's not the same old roast chicken and frites .

By my informal count the word Provencal appears just once on the menu and pasta shows up only in a salad with Sevruga caviar. Instead, Konnert is cooking escargots in red wine sauce with poached quail eggs, scallops with green tomatoes, roasted pigeon breast with cabbage and the wee bird's legs served up in a salade . Fearless gourmandes can dig into the sauteed foie gras of the day, while more careful souls can choose dishes made without cream or butter.

Les Arts is also offering a prize to thank customers for their support during the opening weeks. If you dine at Les Arts before Nov. 15 and leave behind your business or calling card, your name will be entered in a drawing for a round-trip first-class ticket for two: LAX-Paris.

When it comes to paying the bill, however, better have one of those alternative cards in hand. "American Express is expressly not accepted," notes the press release.

* Les Arts Restaurant, 70 S. Raymond, Pasadena. (818) 583-8275. Open seven days a week for dinner until midnight weekdays, until 1 a . m . Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch starts Wednesday. Valet parking. Visa and MasterCard accepted. Appetizers $5-$15; entrees $16-$25.

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