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Summer Splash | Eats : IN THE MOOD

Lemons

May 20, 1999

Nothing is more refreshing in hot summer weather than the bright taste of lemon. Here are a few places where lemon strikes like a bolt of sunshine.

* Les Deux Cafes: Pastry chef Christine Moore produces a Meyer lemon "tartlet" that consists of lemon sorbet topped with meringue and served with tangerines and creme anglaise. It's a cross between a lemon pie and a baked Alaska. (Lemon tartlet, $7.) Les Deux Cafes, 1638 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood, (323) 465-0509.

* Chili John's: You'll come to this landmark East Valley cafe for the red chili with beans or spaghetti, but you'll stay for the lemon cream pie, with its graham cracker crust and whipped cream topping. (Lemon pie, slice $2.25, half pie $6.75, whole pie $13.50.) Chili John's of California, 2018 Burbank Blvd., Burbank, (818) 846-3611.

* Alto Palato: Genius gelato-master Gino Rindone makes a tart, palate-cleansing, head-throbbingly cold lemon sorbet--the perfect light finish to a meal. (Sorbet, $5.) Alto Palato, 755 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 657-9271.

* The Gumbo Pot: Lemon makes a surprise (and inspired) appearance in very thin slices on the catfish poorboy, elevating a good sandwich to a truly great one. (Catfish poorboy, $5.95.) The Gumbo Pot, Hollywood Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 933-0358.

* Mandarette: A perennial favorite here is the Cantonese-style lemon chicken: tender white meat sauteed and served in a light, very lemony glaze. (Lemon chicken, $9.25.) Mandarette, 8386 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 655-6115.

* Cobbler Factory: As an alternative to lemon pie, how about a lemon cobbler? Or better yet, this Pasadena "factory's" honey-baked lemon cobbler? Try a single order, or order 24 hours in advance and you can get portions capable of serving anything from six to 30 people. (Lemon cobbler, single serving $4, six- to eight-serving portion $17, 30-serving $34.50; other sizes available as well.) Cobbler Factory, 33 N. Catalina, Pasadena, (626) 449-2152.

* Twohey's: One of the best-selling ice cream drinks at this long-lived Alhambra coffee shop is a dreamy "lemon frosted": a combination of lemon juice, ice cream and a not-so-secret secret ingredient--a generous squirt of soda water that somehow creates the compelling frostiness. (Lemon frosted: $3.25.) Twohey's, 1224 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra, (626) 284-7387.

* Elixir: And, of course, there's the marvelous elixir known as lemonade. In this case, it's lemonade spiked with ginseng and schizandra, an "astringence essence" said to perk a person up. (Lemonade, $2.50.) Elixir, 8612 W. Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (310) 657-9300.

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