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Xiomara's Menu Makes a Turn to Nuevo Latino

The force behind change from French bistro food is owner Ardolina, who also has new chef.

September 18, 1997|ANGELA PETTERA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Adios, Bistro. If you go to Xiomara Restaurant in Pasadena, forget about French bistro food. Owner Xiomara Ardolina has moved forward with the nuevo Latino cuisine that she and recently departed executive chef Patrick Healy showcased in the back room (which they named Oye!). "It's the first time in 20 years that I decided to let the French cuisine go," says Cuban-born Ardolina, "but I really believe in this idea." The idea in question is upscale Latin American cuisine with French technical underpinnings, like what's being served at Yuca in Miami and Patria in New York.

The chef who will carry this out won't be Healy, however. "I'm here at the Buffalo Club and working on other projects," Healy says, "so I didn't have time to do it." Chef duties will belong to Pedro Deona, an American-born chef of Cuban background. Under Ardolina's supervision, Deona has created a new menu featuring dishes from Spain, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia as well as Cuba. It's a menu full of yucca, chorizo, blue potatoes and plantains. We're talking empanadas, skirt steak, paella (with or without seafood) and salmon in chimichurri sauce.

* Xiomara Restaurant, 69 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (818) 796-2520.

The French Resurrection. L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, which closed four years ago, is having life (viz. money) pumped back into it. Major renovations are taking place inside 9291 Burton Way and the feel is supposed to be Zen-like; lots of talk about less being more. In charge of making this philosophy work are Three Architecture of Dallas and interior designer Chhada Siembieda of Long Beach. The lifeblood is coming from the French hotel and travel company Immobiliere Hoteliere, in association with Colony Capital in Los Angeles and other partners.

Yes, there will be a restaurant. Serge Falesitch, formerly of Eclipse, will be in charge. (No shocker: He worked for L'Ermitage Hotel from 1990-91.) He'll continue with his Cuisine of the Sun concept, mingling tastes from the French Riviera with Tuscan dishes, plus a little Thai cuisine on the side. No menu yet.

The formal dining room is being built downstairs, and a stone oven is being installed in the kitchen so Falesitch can roast whole fish. Guests will be able to eat either downstairs, on the rooftop around the pool, in the library (at tea time) or in their rooms (around the clock). Director of development Claude Amar promises elegant and attentive room service ("We want people to enjoy the magic of our chef in their rooms") but at the same time the dining room will be kind of casual ("You will not have gold on the dishes"). Hotel and restaurant are slated to open in February.

The Return of Milman. Michael's has snagged its favorite chef back from the jaws of the hotel industry. Chef Chris Milman (whose career also includes stints at Citrus, Patina, Spago and L'Orangerie) left the Santa Monica pioneer of California Cuisine a year and a half ago to run The Chez in the Beverly Prescott Hotel. His conclusion is the same that many restaurant chefs come to: "It was my first hotel experience and it will probably be my last." When Michael McCarty asked him back to his old haunt, he accepted immediately. Among other reasons for wanting to return is the fact that Michael's pastry chef, Dorte Lambert-Milman, happens to be his wife. Sous chef Catalino Echeverria, who stepped up to the chef spot when Milman left, now steps back to sous position.

Eat Up, Party Down. In the last month or two, there's been a lot of talk about a new wave of supper clubs that feature dining and dancing. Now one's about to open, around Sept. 23. Millennium will be the new kid on the 9000 block of Sunset Boulevard. The chef is David Slay, who used to own David Slay's La Veranda in Beverly Hills. His menu features nondenominational specials like salmon quesadillas with cream cheese, Chilean sea bass with white beans and rack of lamb with chile mint au jus. Dancing begins at 11 p.m. in the lounge.

* Millennium, 9229 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 271-8355.

The Hong Kong Cook-Over. On Sept. 25, Obachine will present a special prix-fixe dinner cooked by two chefs from the Regent Hong Kong. Wolfgang Puck invited them to cook at his Meals on Wheels fund-raiser, so they decided to whip up a little something at Obachine on the way. Executive chef Christof Syre (originally from Germany) and executive Chinese chef Cheung Kamchuen will be serving sauteed prawns in black bean sauce, crustacean broth, stir-fried beef, baby snapper and red bean ice cream (hey, think of the fiber). Cost is $65, plus tax and tip per person; dinner starts at 5:30 p.m.. Call (310) 274-4440 for reservations.

* Obachine, 242 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 274-4440.

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