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SOCIAL CLIMES / UP ALL NIGHT

The Place Just Reeks With Atmosphere

September 20, 1996|TRACY JOHNSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

David Evans says the best thing about the Stinking Rose, A Garlic Restaurant is that you can eat all the garlic you want without ever having to worry about people thinking you stink.

"Here everyone smells," Evans, 31, says.

Evans loves garlic and loves this garlic-themed restaurant and bar, the Stinking Lounge, that opened in the old Lawry's site in Beverly Hills. On his days off, the Playa del Rey resident is part of the furniture in this 1 1/2-year-old Italian establishment whose sister restaurant opened in San Francisco's North Beach five years ago. He schmoozes with bartender Chris Andresfay and chats with friends Jim and Sandra Delancey, who bring their 4-month-old daughter, Madison.

Music by the artist formerly known as Prince pipes in through the sound system and the smell of garlic fills the air as twentysomethings and thirtysomethings enjoy garlic drinks and garlic eats.

What stands out most at this chic bar is its decor. There are six theme rooms and each has its own personality. Garlywood is a spoof on Hollywood, complete with a wacky mural of garlic-people going to Mann's Chinese Theatre. Dracula's Grotto, formerly the wine cellar, has been decorated with cobwebs and Dracula's poison: garlic.

In the Michelangelo Room, the artist's Sistine Chapel masterpiece has been replicated, but at the Stinking Rose the angels are passing garlic to one another. The Chianti Cafe is decorated with old Chianti bottles and corks. The main dining room is reminiscent of Rome with a series of balconies overlooking the room.

The Stinking Lounge is equally eclectic. On the south wall there are two big noses, one silver, the other gold, flanking a painted portrait of "Seinfeld's" Kramer. In the candlelit lounge, where the ceiling is painted blue, gold moons and stars hang down to give the peaceful illusion of an evening al fresco.

And then there's the furniture. The bar uses every hip trend in the 1990s and makes it work quite nicely. There are mixed and matched chairs, plush sofas and candles.

Off to one side of this spacious hangout is the cigar room, Tobacco Road, which takes a more Victorian-theme. The sofas are classic, the tables real wood and there are quaint lamps with floral shades.

Tobacco Road has its own air-circulation system and its own crowd, mostly after-dinner folks who want something smoky for desert.

"We come in here so that we don't mess up the smell of garlic," says an unnamed smoker who puffed away on a big stogie.

*

Where: The Stinking Rose, A Garlic Restaurant, 55 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 652-7673.

When: Daily, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Cost: Gartini (martini with pickled garlic cloves), $5; garlic Chardonnay, $4; Vampire Bloody Mary, $4; roasted garlic potato soup, $5; clove garlic chicken, $13.

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