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Second date

Restaurants

November 11, 2004|Leslee Komaiko

Date No. 1 went well and now you're ready to up the ante. The following spots should help.

Max

The room is small and chic, but we're especially fond of the semiprivate alcoves. (Request one when you make a reservation.) Chef Andre Guerrero turns out highly flavorful Cal-Asian fare, along with Filipino staples as lumpia: crispy shrimp and pork spring rolls with a spicy dipping sauce. Finish with a beguiling pumpkin panna cotta.

* Appetizers, $6.50 to $16.50; entrees, $16.95 to $26. 13355 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 784-2915.

Mimosa

It's impossible not to be in good spirits at this charming bistro. Meals begin with complimentary jars of tart cornichons and good oily black olives. Then share an order of tiny golden fried rainbow fish with lemon wedges and house-made tartare sauce or a big bowl of garlicky mussels.

* First courses, $7 to $12.50; entrees, $14.50 to $25. 8009 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; (323) 655-8895.

Blair's

The dining room is warm and cozy, with rich persimmon-colored walls. Occasionally the volume does seem to crescendo. But that's all the more reason to get close. What to eat? Expertly cooked cocktail shrimp paired with deviled eggs. Next try the fine short ribs. And share an order of fries served with a spunky jalapeno ketchup.

* Starters, $6 to $12; entrees, $14 to $32. 2903 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake; (323) 660-1882.

Zax

A slate of talented chefs has headed the kitchen at this stylish neighborhood favorite, and Sarah Levine is no exception. Her highly seasonal-driven menu features such dishes as kabocha squash agnolotti finished with brown butter and sage, and pork pot roast cooked to melting with polenta, kale and brandied prunes.

* Starters, $8 to $13; main courses, $18 to $27. 11604 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 571-3800.

Ciudad

The room is festive, and the bartenders make a great caipirinha. Order a couple, or maybe a rum sampler. Then share an assortment of small plates. Crisp empanadas filled with earthy mushrooms are irresistible. The same goes for the seared calamari laced with bits of flavorful chorizo.

* Platos pequenos, $6.50 to $10.50; platos principales, $19.50 to $27.50. 445 S. Figueroa St., downtown L.A.; (213) 486-5171.

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