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RESTAURANT NOTES

Viva Romance! From Florian to French

August 25, 1995|S. IRENE VIRBILA | TIMES RESTAURANT CRITIC

Someone has finally grabbed up one of the most romantic restaurant spaces in town: the old Florian (and before that Tryst) space on La Cienega. La Cachette manager Yon Idiart plans to open a Provencal restaurant, with a late-night cabaret, called La Madrague, which is the name of Brigitte Bardot's home in St. Tropez. The chef will be Martin Herold, who worked as sous-chef under Jean Francois Meteigner at La Cachette.

La Madrague's Provencal menu will be moderately priced with appetizers $5-$8, entrees $14-$18. Sunday nights Idiart and Herold plan to offer a $45 prix fixe menu from a different province of France each week. Remodeling begins Sept. 15. And the restaurant is slated to open sometime in mid-November.

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No Respect: GQ columnist--and New Yorker--Alan Richman indulged in a little L.A.-bashing in his review of Patina earlier this year. Now the Wine Spectator is having a go at it. Senior editor Thomas Matthews, writing in the July/August issue of Food Arts, a sister publication for restaurant professionals, had this to say about eating out in Los Angeles: "People study menus, discuss the options with their waiter, and order with gusto. They exclaim when the plates come to the table, and wave their forks around while they're laughing at their companion's jokes and chatting on their cellulars. But when the scene is over, they're carrying out their meals in Styrofoam boxes. They don't really eat the food. It's just part of the scenery." Say it's not so. Then comes the final insult: Matthews refers to L.A. by that worn-out moniker "Tinseltown."

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Now Open: First there was Gratis. Then there was Planet Earth. Now California Pasta has arrived in Santa Monica with yet another health-conscious restaurant concept: healthy fast food. In this case, it's international pastas ready in 30 seconds. That's fast, all right. Prices range from $3 to $5 and each menu item is served with bread-sticks that coincide with the entree. Dessert is chocolate fudge ravioli. Imagine that. Or at least try to, anyway. . . . The latest Fatburger branch just debuted next to Magic Johnson's Theatre at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The 23rd in the fast-growing burger chain, it is only the second to have a drive-through window. And it also features Rhino Records CD jukebox belting out blues, R&B and Motown classics from the '50s and '60s. . . . Chitra, a French-Thai restaurant, has moved into the former Raffaele space on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Chef Thanu Senivong, former sous-chef at the Mandarin Hotel in Bangkok, cooked at Coriander in Studio City in the early '80s.

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Kitchen Closed: Russell's on La Cienega has bowed out after just over a year and a half. . . . Further up the street, the Italian restaurant Regina Coeli has also shut its doors.

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