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Reflected Glory

The new chef and owner at Le Chardonnay promise only minor changes.


About Face: Everything about Le Chardonnay on Melrose Avenue is new: owners, chef, menu and hours.

But regulars who've been patronizing the bistro for more than 13 years are worried that the new owners may have plans to change the room or replace the bistro's classics--steak frites, profiteroles with chocolate sauce, anything gratinee--with diet dishes. The new chef, Jean-Pierre Lemanissier, is the former executive chef of Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs.

Breathe easy. Butter, eggs, cheese and cream still have a place on Le Chardonnay's menu. And nothing short of an act of God will alter the beveled mirrors and the stunning Art Nouveau detail, said general manager Maurice Constantin, formerly of the Beverly Hills Hotel. He insists that he and Lemanissier (who was longtime chef at the now-defunct Antoine's in Newport Beach) bought the bistro not to change it but to preserve its character and tradition.

The changes are small. The dining hours have been extended: Reservations are now taken until 10 p.m. seven days a week. Lunch is served Monday through Friday, instead of four days. The glass-ceilinged Garden Room, set off from the main dining room, has been freshened up with flowers, hanging plants and a lighter shade of paint.

* Le Chardonnay, 8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 655-8880.


The Big Night: No, this has nothing to do with Stanley Tucci's film or his mother's timpano, an extravagant multilayered pasta casserole. We mean Monday, the movie stars' night out.

Let them go to the Shrine. Mere mortals can watch the circus without squeezing into a Vera Wang or fretting over camera angles and camouflaging double chins.

Here are a handful of restaurants that will haul out the big screens and pass ballots, and where you won't be mistaken for Tom Cruise or get trampled for autographs. Reserve now:

While the Wolf's away, his staff at Granita will pass pizza appetizers with cocktails and set a four-course sit-down dinner, complete with TV monitors. Cost: $60 per person. From 5 p.m. Granita, 23725 W. Malibu Road, Malibu. (310) 456-0520. . . . Arbuckle's hosts a double-header: an Oscar bash and birthday buffet with live entertainment in honor of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. (It would be his 110th birthday.) Costumes welcome, especially vintage black tie and flapper outfits. From 5 p.m. $50 per person. Arbuckle's, 829 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 657-9220. . . . Claes Seafood, Etc. offers two 50-inch TV sets, a five-course wine-tasting dinner, with selections from Benzinger Winery, and prizes to those who guess the Oscar winners. From 5:45 p.m. $70 per person. Hotel Laguna, 425 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. (714) 494-1151. . . . At Pinot Bistro, chef Octavio Becerra has some fun with dishes named Shine on Salmon and Don't Fargo Your Vegetables on the special menu. From 5:30 p.m. $45 per person. Pinot Bistro, 12969 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 990-0500. . . . Bistro Garden at Coldwater kicks festivities off at 5 p.m. with cocktails and appetizers followed by a buffet. Ballots and four TV monitors keep things rolling. $45 per person. Bistro Garden at Coldwater, 12950 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 501-0202. . . . Losers in the Oscar-betting race can console themselves with a dessert combination plate, the sweet finale to a three-course menu at 72 Market Street. $50 per person. From 5:30 p.m. 72 Market Street Oyster Bar and Grill, Venice. (310) 392-8720. . . . Chef Scott Reed draws inspiration for his a la carte menu from "The English Patient" (Yorkshire pudding and prime rib), "Secrets & Lies" (smoked duck breast salad) and "Fargo" (cheeses from the Midwest). Both lunch and dinner menus run Saturday through Monday at the Terrace, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Marina del Rey. (310) 823-1700.

Ah, Shucks: Love those slick bivalves better than a gold Oscar statuette? Check out the oyster dinner Monday at Gustaf Anders. Ten varieties of oysters precede a three-course dinner. From 5:30 p.m. $60 per person; reservations necessary.

* Gustaf Anders, South Coast Plaza, 1651 Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana. (714) 668-1737.

Such a Deal: In the mood for dim sum? Hike over to Yin Yang restaurant but you'd better wear something stretchy. Its all-you-can-eat dim sum special runs every Saturday and Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. $8.95 per person. Yin Yang Restaurant, Century City Shopping Center, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City. (310) 556-3333.

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