Scooter in the House: Scooter Kanfer, a chef who's been in need of a location, has finally found a home. After a false start when a deal with the owners of Muse fell apart last year, Kanfer and partner Dana Caskey have settled into a two-story 19th century Craftsman house on Melrose Avenue and plan to turn it into a modern American restaurant called the House.
Kanfer, who worked most recently at Nic's in Beverly Hills and has done stints with Fred Eric (Vida), Wolfgang Puck (pastries at Granita and Chinois on Main), Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (City, Border Grill), has been greatly influenced by Larry Forgione of An American Place restaurant in New York. Her American place will serve a small menu and rely on local, specialized purveyors and farmers' markets for supplies. All the vegetables and dairy will be organic, all the meat free-range. Kanfer will handle the desserts herself. Caskey, formerly a manager at the Shed restaurant, will be the general manager of the House. Dining will commence in the lower story first, with the basement being used for a wine cellar. Look for it to open mid- to late September.
The Elusive El Dorado: Will Karges, having divested himself of his part ownership of Rix in Santa Monica, has put his hand back into the restaurant-ownership fire. Mind you, he still owns Blueberry, a small breakfast and lunch spot in Santa Monica and the Johnnie's New York Pizzeria chain, but now he's opening another full-service restaurant.
El Dorado Cantina will be in the old Armadillo's Ale House location at 11777 San Vicente Blvd. in Brentwood. Karges says he's trying to marry Mexican culture with, he says, "a little bit of hipness." The look of the place is pulled together with copious amounts of wood and cracked plaster. A smooth, serpentine bar to the left of the dining room is lit from below. On the ceiling, pinata-like stars function as light fixtures. There are no hard corners in the place, just smooth edges. The only really old-looking architectural aspect is the display kitchen near the back, which will be used for making fresh tortillas, chips, tamales, ceviches and salsas. The food won't be new either. Chris Goossen, from the short-lived Jimmy's II and Rix, won't introduce any Tex-Mex or Nuevo Latino flavors; he'll stick to traditional Mexican cooking. He tells us, "I'm a Mexicanized American and I'm not going to Americanize my Mexican food." At El Dorado he'll crank out tacos, carnitas three ways, Oaxacan moles and stuffed, fried whole red snapper. El Dorado is slated to open in mid-September.
Brush Up on Some Vineyards: Yearning to know more about the vinos coming out of Sonoma County wineries, such as Iron Horse in Green Valley, Jarvis in Napa Valley or Silver Oak Cellars in both Napa Valley and Alexander Valley? The Slam Dunk wine seminar on next Thursday is for you. Sponsored by the Duke of Bourbon wine store, this seminar will have wines and representatives from all of the above wineries. Also present will be debut wines from the German winery Sibyl and the South African winery Simunye. Bread and cheese will be served with the wine. The price is $38 per person. The seminar takes place at 7 p.m. at the Warner Center Marriott, 21850 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills. Make reservations through the Wine Assn. of the Duke of Bourbon at (818) 341-1234. Mail checks payable to the same (Wine Assn. of the Duke of Bourbon) to P.O. Box 9201, Canoga Park, CA 91309.
Crumbs of Information: Another P.F. Chang's China Bistro has popped up. The new Woodland Hills location brings the Southern California tally of the Chinese chain to eight. It boasts moderate prices (dinner entrees run from $8 to $13), a snazzy setting, American desserts, a full bar and late hours (11 p.m. during the week, midnight on Friday and Saturdays). P.F. Chang's is open for lunch and dinner daily. It's in the Promenade, 21821 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills; (818) 340-0491. . . . JiRaffe, the Santa Monica Cal-French restaurant, is now offering a "Summer Safari Lunch"--three courses for $12.95. The starter is soup or salad; the entree is roasted chicken, pasta, crispy salmon or New York steak; dessert is sorbet. If you're in a hurry, it can be on and off the table in an hour. The lunch deal is available in the restaurant from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or for takeout in orders of four or more. JiRaffe is at 502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 917-6671.
Laetitia's Dinner: Il Tiramisu Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks has brought in wines from Laetitia Vineyards & Winery up in the Edna Valley for dinner tonight at 7. The five-course menu is paired with six wines--a sparkling brut, a Pinot Blanc, a Chardonnay, two Pinot Noirs and an Orange Muscat. The main course is crispy duck breast with cranberry and Cognac sauce. The tab is $55 per person.
* Il Tiramisu, 13705 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 986-2640.
Angela Pettera can be reached at (213) 237-3153 or at email@example.com