Lower Prices, Same Great Food

The last decade has seen many a celebrated restaurant open a sidekick establishment with much lower prices. In Paris, Joel Robuchon, considered by many to be the greatest chef in France, recently opened Le Relais du Parc, where rates are only a third or a quarter of those at the restaurant that bears his name. In Los Angeles, Patina owner Joachim Splichal has opened the popularly priced Pinot Bistro in the San Fernando Valley and plans a casual cafe downtown.

Six months ago, Jose Dahan opened Village Cafe in the Hollywood Riviera. He now divides his time between his original Palos Verdes Estates restaurant, J'Adore, which features a $39 prix-fixe menu, and the new place--a pretty, 22-seat cafe located next to a Trader Joe's--where meals can be had for as little as $5.

Be sure to consider the prominently displayed chalkboard that lists the daily specials. A special that's become so popular that it's almost always listed is the salad Nicoise ($5.95), featuring tuna, hard-boiled eggs, string beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and anchovies drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

There is a pizza of the day ($2.50 for a large slice), with toppings such as grilled chicken breast, fresh oregano, garlic, roasted eggplant and feta cheese, or sausage, Gorgonzola and eggplant. The soup of the day might be white bean with smoked bacon ($2.50).

Three large medallions of swordfish ($7.25) are sauteed with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, fresh tomatoes and a white wine sauce made from a light fish stock enhanced with fresh basil, one of the many herbs Dahan grows in his garden.

Sandwiches include a vegetarian sandwich ($4.95), served on seven-grain bread moistened with olive oil and loaded with grilled eggplant, zucchini, tomato, bean sprouts and avocado.

The Village Cafe is at 1759 South Elena Ave., Redondo Beach. (310) 316-5400. Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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