A thirtysomething Tryst

There's not a lot of jiggling going on here. There's hardly any movement, unless you count the motion of Absolut being poured into a glass. Or two people making eyes at each other through Jean Paul Gaultier frames.

The place is a cutting-edge concept for a New Age. Very grown up, very intimate, very dark.

Yes, trendoids, the lounge is baaaack. Only the lounge lizards have changed.

The name explains a lot: Tryst. Get it? A place to forget about doing deals and fall in love. The moniker belongs to a restaurant, bar and lounge conceived by L.A. club impresario Mario Oliver, the main partner in Vertigo, the downtown dance club.

Oliver, 38, is his own personal test market and target customer. "Myself, I don't go to nightclubs anymore," he says. "I'd rather go to a nice bar and find someone to talk to."

Last month he opened Tryst where the music (soothing), food (au courant) and the decor (retro) are all geared to intimacy for an "older crowd," meaning over 30, mostly Hollywood-fashion-art types. On Fridays and Saturdays, the demographics are slightly younger.

Symbolically absent from the front door is a stud-like doorman, an essential accouterment of the hottest '80s clubs and still a fixture at many late-night spots. Times have changed though, and doormen who determine who may enter and who may not put people off, Oliver says with a degree of disgust. If there's an overflow crowd, the Tryst hostess will handle it. "She'll say, 'I'm sorry. There's no room right now. Please wait outside,' " Oliver says.

Valerie Waters, a personal trainer who quickly dropped the names of her star clients ("Faye Dunaway and Cindy Crawford!"), likes the atmosphere, even if she's not there to tryst. Garbed in black leather and perched at the bar with some friends, she said, "It's not the real young crowd as at Trinity, but it's still in. Trendy. Happening."

"It looks like Humphry Bogart could walk in any minute," observed one mid-30s man clinging to a glass of imported water on the rocks in the bar.

Well, not exactly.

About 11:30, Hollywood social scenesters Ann Turkel and Dani Janssen created a rather dramatic entrance, although they made a fast bee-line for the restaurant.

There's something vaguely gentleman-clubby about the place. Hefty dishes such as venison salad, grilled squab with mashed potatoes, and curried English pea soup are on the late-night bar menu. And martinis are stirred all night long.

Dark wood walls and poufed-up fringed curtains convey a certain traditionalism, but the sci-fi conical chandeliers have a definite edge. Some of the chandeliers bear dangling rhinestones, some twinkling lights. In any case, it's all very well-bred.

Early in the evening, the bar is occupied by people waiting for dinner tables. After 10, the bar and lounge attract their own crowd, including, on one recent weeknight, two who appeared typical--youngish guys wearing Bel-Air Country Club sweat shirts. They stood by the bar, talking business and a little golf. They ordered Stoli on the rocks and nibbled on mixed berries. B. B. King crooned over the sound system and cool-looking couples in leather began to fill the little cafe tables in the lounge, trysting among themselves.

Name: Tryst.

Where: 401 N. La Cienega, Los Angeles.

When: Daily, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Doorman: None.

Prices: No admission fee. Martinis, $4-$5. Herb-crusted venison frisee salad, $8.95.

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