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Finding a Bigger Lobster on the Pier

After a 12-year absence, Santa Monica eatery will be expanded at original site, offering--what else?--seafood.

May 13, 1999|ANGELA PETTARA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Return of the Lobster: If you have fond memories of a white shack known as the Lobster that was planted for years smack at the beginning of the Santa Monica Pier, you'll be happy to know it's reopening. For more than 12 years, that chunk of pier sat vacant until Lobster space owner Mike Nathan teamed up with Terry Brady and a few other investors to restore it--and in fact expand it to more than five times its original size. It will still be called the Lobster (one guess as to its specialty). For chef, Nathan and Brady reeled in Allyson Thurber, who helped open the Water Grill in downtown Los Angeles nine years ago and only recently returned to L.A. from Philadelphia, where she was at the helm of a popular place called the Striped Bass. The menu will be 80% seafood, turned out in a clean American style with a bit of Asian influence, Thurber tells us. "The fish itself is the focus," she says. All the seafood coming out of the tiny kitchen will be served in a place designed to let the ocean in (Thurber: "It's all windows"). The prices will be moderate for a seafood restaurant, entrees running from $15 to $25. When the Lobster opens in mid-June, it will serve lunch and dinner daily.

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Do I Smell Burning Wood?: Spark Woodfire Cooking, the newest venture from Danilo Terribili (Alto Palato), opened Wednesday at 11801 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. Luca Sterpetti is the chef handling all those wood-burning implements and turning out rotisserie meats and thin-crust pizzas. He's also making fried calamari, salads and pastas such as lasagna and cannelloni. Spark is open for dinner nightly. In about a week or so, it will also be open for lunch daily. Call (818) 623-8883 for reservations.

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Speaking of Sparks: Bombay Cafe (12021 Pico Blvd., West L.A.) suffered a kitchen fire late Monday night. Says co-owner Neela Paniz: "The only positive thing about this is that no one was hurt." The kitchen and dining room sustained some serious heat and smoke damage, and repairs will take two to four weeks. Most of the artworks can be restored, but the tables and chairs may have to be replaced. For updates on the repairs' progress and reopening date, call (310) 473-3388 to listen to the outgoing message.

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Tasty Tidbits: The Redondo Beach space (531 N. Pacific Coast Highway) that used to house David's restaurant has been bought by restaurateur Chaz Gaddie, who was previously a partner in Fritto Misto in Santa Monica and Cafe Misto in Pacific Palisades. This time around, he's doing his own thing, he tells us--namely, a traditional Mexican restaurant with eclectic South American influences. Jorge Martinez will be the chef of Coyote Cantina, as the place is to be called; it's scheduled to open in late May for dinner only. The price range should be moderate, most dishes under $15. . . . One--that's a restaurant opened by Serge Burckel (formerly chef at Splash) at 672 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.--is now open for lunch from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (323) 692-0540 for reservations.

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New Cook Aboard: Ciudad, the splashy new downtown Latino cafe owned by Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Millikin, just gained a new pastry chef. Sally Cook, who's worked at Shiro in Pasadena and Valentino in Santa Monica, has added her own touches to the dessert menu. You'll see new ice creams and a coconut-macadamia cake with pineapple-rum batido (that's shaved ice, pally), in addition to lots of different dessert specials. "We're working toward using more Latino ingredients," says Cook of the changes to come, but she's also left some dishes untouched like the classic Cuban cake soaked with three kinds of milk, cafe con tres leches. It's at 445 S. Figueroa St.; call (213) 486-5171 for reservations.

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Give a Kidney: On May 23 you have a chance to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California by eating dinner at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel (1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica). The hotel's chef, Alain Giraud, will be joined by eight other recognizable toques: Celestino Drago (Drago, Santa Monica), Joe Miller (Joe's, Venice), Lee Hefter (Spago, Beverly Hills), Raphael Lunetta (JiRaffe, Santa Monica) and former Lunetta partner Josiah Citrin (opening his own place soon), Josie LeBalch and David Fouts (the Beach House, Santa Monica) and Nancy Silverton (Campanile/La Brea Bakery, L.A.). The above are whipping up hors d'oeuvres and a five-course tasting menu paired with wines. Some of the dishes are Chilean sea bass, pumpkin ravioli, spiced lamb and grilled quail. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m.; dress is black-tie optional. Call Knock Out Productions to purchase tickets, which are $185 a head, at (310) 823-8118.

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