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Fat Femme Sings for Paul Bocuse

Three months ago, Lyon city officials gave three-star French chef Paul Bocuse the OK to open a 60-seat restaurant on the top floor of the recently restored 200-year-old Lyon Opera. Bocuse, who also owns a restaurant at Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or above Lyon where dinner and wine costs about $200 per person, planned to serve “inexpensive” meals--in France that’s the $30 to $60 range. Now there’s word that the world’s most famous chef has been booted out of the Opera.

“It was a done deal and then (city officials) decided to submit it to another round of bidding,” says a Lyon insider. “That’s France. They claim it would give (Bocuse) a monopoly on fine food in Lyon, but the real reason is the mayor hates his guts.”

So the formidable Bocuse and three employees marched right out and bought another Lyon landmark--the Brasserie du Nord. They will keep the name, but next month will begin remodeling--they want it to be something comparable to Cafe de Flore in Paris, a place where starving but stylish artists and literary types can drop in for a coffee and a sandwich.

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EGGS OVER EASY: Whether or not it’s a sign that the economy is improving, time will tell, but Los Angeles’ Aristoff Caviar--supplier to Hotel Bel-Air, L’Orangerie and Le Dome--has opened Caviar and Fine Foods, a restaurant/boutique at Robertson and Beverly boulevards. Chef Christophe Bonnegrace’s signature dish is the $14.50 caviar “burger,” an ounce of pressed Beluga, Sevruga and Osetra caviar. “When the caviar arrives, the delicate eggs on the bottom are kind of crushed,” says Aristoff’s Jean-Paul Vignon. “We mix them into a paste, and serve it between two blinis with maybe some sour cream. It’s very filling.”

Caviar and Fine Foods--open for lunch and dinner--also plans to hold classes on the art of buying and eating the sturgeon eggs. “We are trying to educate people so they don’t get taken,” says Vignon. “The whole thing with onions and eggs are generally to hide the taste of bad caviar.”

The first session begins Thursday. For $40, students taste half an ounce of each of the three types of caviar. “Caviar is like chocolate,” says Vignon. “One is not better than the other, they are just different. We just decide which one we like better.”

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OPENINGS: Palomino Euro Bistro, which calls itself “a fusion of Pacific Northwest and Mediterranean cuisine,” has opened in Palm Desert. Dishes include “Roma-style cracker-thin pizzas baked in a 750-degree white oak-fired ovens, British Columbia King salmon, herb-crusted whole chickens and Certified Nebraska Select prime rib slowly roasted on wood-burning rotisserie . . . and substantial portions.” . . . Former private chef Mark Brown--his clients included Kirstie Alley and Wayne Gretzky--has opened Half Moon Cafe in Encino Town Center.

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PRESS RELEASES WE WISH WE NEVER GOT: “Wolfgang Puck will join us here at Thee White House to prepare a special meal. Regrettably, the event is a sellout. . . . We wanted you to share in our excitement.”

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ARTISTIC LICENSE: This column is sometimes compared to a work of art, which is perhaps why last week we spelled the Beverly Hills coffee lounge Mocha Cave like MOCA the museum.*


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