Another section of this newspaper carried a story not long ago about a notorious con man who had been arrested in Arcadia where he had been masquerading as--no, not as a brain surgeon or a procurement officer in the U.S. Armed Forces or even as a missionary priest collecting donations for the widows of Andorran sailors lost at sea--but a restaurant critic. I don’t know about my colleagues in the field, but this R.C., for one, was darned flattered by the news. It was as if the whole profession had suddenly been validated. Being a restaurant critic, this malefactor seemed to be saying, was something to aspire to, something worth risking the law’s wrath to simulate.

Of course, it must be admitted that he went about being a restaurant critic in a strange sort of way: He claimed to be authoring a book on Southern California restaurants, asked as many as 150 detailed questions of restaurateurs before agreeing to list them in the tome, and then solicited advance cash orders for the book from them. Any proprietor should have spotted him as a phony in a second: No real restaurant critic demands money for a review--and no real restaurant critic asks 150 questions of anybody.

THE CITY OF LIGHT: Former Los Angeles (and Austin, Tex.) resident Martha Rose Shulman, now ensconced in Paris, offers monthly dinners in her professionally equipped Left Bank apartment, featuring “light French food” and wines of the Loire Valley and the south of France. The meals are meatless, but include fresh fish and such vegetable specialties as wild mushroom ragout, eggplant tart, and green bean and almond salad. Two meals are left in the Spring series, May 22 and June 19, and the cost is a modest 120 francs (currently about $16) per person. Write to Shulman at 20 rue du Vieux Colombier, Paris 75006, for information and schedules of future dinners.


WHAT, MORE RESTAURANTS?: Silvio De Mori, ex-manager of Rex II Ristorante downtown and founding partner of the Pane Caldo Bistrot on Beverly Boulevard, has a new post--this time as co-owner of the recently shuttered Bono’s at Melrose and La Cienega ( not at the far-off intersection of Sunset and Melrose where Another Local Newspaper recently placed it). At the moment, Bono’s name remains, but in late June the name will become Silvio’s and the menu will undergo a transformation. . . . Le Bordeaux is new in Marina Del Rey, with Philippe Mongereau (a veteran of Ma Maison and, briefly, of Boboli) in the kitchen and numerous old Ma Maison hands on, shall we say, hand.

The Pink Panda joins the ever-lengthening restaurant line-up on South Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. . . . And, as predicted in this column some time back, the old Sea Lion in Malibu has reopened, under the direction of Bob Morris (of Gladstone’s 4 Fish, R.J.’s the Rib Joint, etc.). It’s not exactly the same old place, though: The new name is the World-Famous Malibu Sea Lion U.S.A., and the facilities include a salad bar, a stir-fry bar, and an omelet bar in the 350-seat three-tiered dining room with mirrored columns, plus a two-level disco and--just in time for the June rush--a wedding chapel.

Meanwhile, Casa Cugat on La Cienega has closed (maybe they should have put in a wedding chapel). . . . And in out-of-town news, the Chalkboard Restaurant is new in Santa Barbara, owned by John Phillips, former proprietor of the Chalkboard in Tulsa, Okla., (but featuring “regional, progressive California grill” food nonetheless); and an upstate branch of Harry’s Bar and American Grill has opened in San Francisco.

SPECIALS: Devonshire Tea is now served weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at Oscar’s on the Sunset Strip. . . . Genghis Cohen in West Hollywood has launched a daily “Dim Sum and Drink Sum” hour, from 5 to 6 p.m, featuring--these guys just don’t let up--the Ori-Yentl Margarita, the Genghist Cohma (which is more or less Long Island Iced Tea with Dr. Brown’s Creme Soda added), and the Sichuan Garlic Martini, in addition to various non-alcoholic beverages and such comestibles as New York egg rolls, curried dumplings, and squid balls. . . . The Seventh Street Bistro downtown has opened for Sunday dinner (and, all logic to the contrary, apparently is doing very well with it), and the restaurant’s co-owner/chef, Laurent Quenioux, has initiated a series of cooking classes, every other Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

OUR PERIPATETIC CHEFS: Corey Robins, who seemed to be working toward his own intriguing French-flavored synthesis of Californian-Mexican and Southwestern food at the Original Sonora Cafe downtown, resigned suddenly from the restaurant on Tuesday. His replacement has not yet been named. . . . And Christian Le Goff has replaced Claude Segal as chef at Bistango on La Cienega, with George Pagani (formerly of 385 North and most recently of Rondo) as new maitre d’hotel .

AFFAIR TO REMEMBER: Giuseppe’s on Beverly Boulevard hosts a fund-raising reception in support of the Statue of Liberty Centennial, today from noon to 2 a.m. Bernard Zimmerman of Zimmerman Architects and Planners is co-sponsor of the event, and special guests will reportedly include Rod Stewart, Julio Iglesias, Zsa Zsa Gabor, graphic designer Saul Bass, and legendary pitchman Lee Iacocca. Cost is $50 per person.