Heavenly when well-prepared, sweetbreads are the most delicate and subtle of organ meats--truly a food of the gods. Here’s what a few chefs do with them.

* The Belvedere: One of chef Bill Bracken’s “uncommon plates” is a big bowl of sweetbread medallions that have been poached, dusted with flour and sauteed until crisp. They’re served topped with baby leeks, sitting in a truffle Port sabayon that’s been fluffed with a bit of whipped cream. “Sweetbreads aren’t easy to sell,” Bracken says, “but this preparation is popular.” (Sweetbreads, $24.) The Belvedere, Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel, 9882 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 788-2306.

* Michael’s: Michael’s can be relied on for top-notch ingredients--the sweetbreads served here hail from Chicago. They’re sauteed and sauced with lemon juice, giant Spanish capers and parsley butter. (Sweetbreads, $24.50.) Michael’s, 1147 3rd St., Santa Monica, (310) 451-0843.

* Coco Pazzo: For an appetizer, chef Joseph Antonishek encrusts sweetbreads with ground hazelnuts and serves them with sauteed wild mushrooms and an oloroso Sherry sauce. (Sweetbreads, $12.) Coco Pazzo, Mondrian Hotel, 8440 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-6000.


* La Cachette: As a special or on request, Jean-Francois Meteigner sautes sweetbreads crisp and serves them with potato risotto and shiitake mushrooms in a light Port sauce. (Sweetbreads, $18.) La Cachette, 10506 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 470-4992.

* Musso & Frank: Here, at the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, sweetbreads have been on the menu forever. Chef Michel Bourger lightly breads and sautes sweetbreads and serves them jardiniere fashion--with a medley of peas, carrots and green beans. (Sweetbreads, $13.50.) Musso & Frank, 6667 Hollywood Blvd., (213) 467-5123 / 467-7788.

* Orso: The menu rotates at this consistently good Northern Italian place, so keep an eye open for the sweetbreads, which are sauteed and served with arugula, smoked prosciutto, peas and white beans. (Sweetbreads, $19.) Orso, 8706 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (310) 274-7144.

* Maison Akira: At this Pasadena Sino-French cafe, chef-owner Akira Hirose braises veal sweetbreads in a Port wine sauce and serves them with sauteed shiitake mushrooms and roasted potatoes. (Sweetbreads, $19.) Maison Akira, 713 E. Green St., Pasadena, (626) 796-9501.


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