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First Impressions

Same Name, Different Artistes

The pair behind Mimosa takes over Hollywood's Cafe de Artistes, bringing along some favorite dishes.

July 15, 1999|S. IRENE VIRBILA | TIMES RESTAURANT CRITIC

"No Reservations. . . . No Dress Code. . . . No Tablecloths. . . . No Attitude." Those are the rules at Cafe des Artistes. The new Cafe des Artistes, that is. When Silvio De Mori and Jean-Pierre Bosc, the team behind the wildly successful French bistro Mimosa, took over the hip Hollywood hangout, they knew a good name when they heard one. So Cafe des Artistes it stayed. The quantity of bona fide artists attending is hard to judge, but on a recent night, a week or so after the cafe reopened--finally--after months of renovation, I don't think too many. Unless that Dobie Gillis fishing hat, short-sleeved nerd shirt, and baggy shorts and, natch, athletic shoes are what artists are wearing these days. Now his companion in matching leopard-skin shoes and hat, she could have been the real thing. Or I'd like to think so.

No one that night opted to sit in the sweet little Craftsman-style house up front with its wood-burning fireplace and mosaic tables. Instead, everybody was settled on the patio in back, which is about three times the size of the dining room, watching the staff mill around and wondering why the music was something from Super-Fly instead of Edith Piaf or Juliette Greco.

A fan of Mimosa in the early days, I was eager to see what kind of a menu Jean-Pierre Bosc would create for his second bistro. Cafe des Artistes' one-page menu does include a different Mimosa favorite each day, as well as a plat du jour, and oysters on the half shell and all manner of chilled seafood platters.

For starters, there's a good, if thick, vichyssoise, fresh white cheese nicely paired with a beet salad, and a generous crock of rustic duck rillettes to spread on toast. To continue, you might try the steamed mussels with fries--the dish that's all the rage in New York right now. But seafood paella made with Israeli couscous instead of rice tasted tired the night I tried it. And steak tartare is so overdressed it's impossible to taste the steak, which is, after all, the point.

What do the artistes have for dessert? Baba (those cute yeast-raised cakes) with confiture de Vieux Garcon (fruit put up in brandy) spooned over.

BE THERE

Cafe des Artistes, 1534 McCadden Place, Hollywood; (323) 469-7300. Open daily, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Appetizers $6-$12.50; main courses $12-$18. Valet parking.

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