"I am tired of cooking at high-profile restaurants," says Cicada's Jean Francois Meteigner, who previously cooked at the expensive, classically French L'Orangerie on La Cienega. "So I asked (co-owners Stephanie Haymes and Bernie Taupin) if they would buy me out." That was two months ago, and Meteigner's partners weren't interested. But now Haymes and Taupin, who were married last month, have accepted Meteigner's offer.
While Haymes hasn't signed a new chef yet, she's considering changing Cicada's California-French menu to California-Italian. "We don't need to give people the gastronomic dining experience of a lifetime," Haymes says of her Melrose Avenue restaurant. "I just want this place to have good, simple food. The problem with having a high-profile chef like Jean Francois is that you have to dazzle them."
As far as Meteigner is concerned, his dazzling days are over. He plans to open a simple French American cafe--possibly in Newport Beach--with dishes priced under $12. "I want to change the way my career is going," says Meteigner, who started cooking at 15. "I'm 35 years old. To work 12- to 14-hour days until I'm 65 is crazy. I want to take charge of my life, to go fishing."
CURTAIN CALL: Last month, chef Lionel Deniaud told us he was so wrapped up in opening Jackson's, he was even dreaming about it. That's the Beverly Boulevard lodge-themed restaurant Alan Jackson and Deniaud have been planning for almost two years. The restaurant is finally finished, but now Deniaud has left. "Our decision to part ways was mutual," says Jackson. "Sometimes personalities and philosophies differ. I wish Lionel the best of luck in his future projects." Deniaud did not return telephone calls.
Jackson has hired Josiah Citrin and Raphael Lunetta, who have been cooking together at Capri in Venice for four months and before that at Patina in Los Angeles. "Capri was a tough one," says Lunetta. "We went in there with a lot of enthusiasm. It can be a great place." The chefs have already started working on the simple, straightforward menu at Jackson's. "It's the same emphasis as Patina," says Lunetta, "making sure things come out fresh and not combining too many flavors."
It's all come together like a Broadway play," adds Jackson. "Its nerve-racking, but we are really excited." Opening curtain is scheduled for Tuesday evening.
HAUTE LUNCHES: Fashion designers are no longer content with merely selling clothes. Karl Lagerfeld's latest passions are illustrating children's books and taking pictures. Ralph Lauren raises beef on his 12,300-acre Colorado ranch to sell by mail and to restaurants. Escada, another expensive fashion label, has recently opened its first Escada Cafe in the new Chicago boutique on Michigan Avenue.
Giorgio Armani has also branched out. Emporio Armani Express restaurants have opened in a number of Armani boutiques, including South Coast Plaza and Beverly Hills. In the works are Armani-preferred wine dinners featuring Armani's favorite wines, and Armani wine tastings with Armani fashion modeling.
ON A DIME: Philippe the Original, the downtown cafeteria where the French Dip sandwich was invented, is rolling back its prices . . . for four hours. It's Philippe's 85th anniversary, so from 4 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 4, you can pick up a sandwich at the original price of 10 cents. Coffee prices, however, are remaining firm--customers will have to pay the full 10 cents a cup.
LAST SUPPER: Mark Carter's final Duplex splash has been set for Oct. 12. (The restaurant is scheduled to close next month.) A five-course prix-fixe ($65) dinner with wines, each course cooked by one of L.A.'s top unemployed chefs, will raise money for St. Joseph Center, a shelter that feeds and trains the homeless.
CANCELED: The JW Marriott/Fetzer Vineyards organic wine and cheese promotion, originally scheduled through Oct. 9, has been canceled due to what organizers say are "complications surrounding the procurement of main recipe ingredients." Now would that be the wine or the cheese?
NEW MENUS: Beverly Hills' best kept secret? The Canon Liquor Cafe, a gourmet grocery/discount wine shop/deli hidden between Thrifty Drug and Cafe Roma on Canon Drive. Located in a former garage, the 8-month-old Canon Liquor Cafe offers sandwiches, salads and daily specials (maybe grilled chicken with rosemary, a little pasta) priced under $10. . . . In addition to its regular Japanese menu, Chaco in Beverly Hills now offers four-course sake dinners, each course accompanied by a different regional sake. Prices range from $30 to $50. . . . Terrazza Toscana has introduced family-style dining to Encino. Sunday through Thursday, five or more can order big bowls of Italian food from its two new family menus ($14.95 and $19.95 per person).