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A Garden Spot

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

New Chef: The Wyndham Bel Age Hotel has a new chef in charge of its restaurants, Diaghilev and La Brasserie: Andreas Nieto, formerly of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Nieto is big on growing his own herbs and making his own infused oils, so he’s installing an herb garden on the hotel roof. He plans to lighten up the Franco-Russian menu of Diaghilev a bit with more fish, seafood, salads and spa-oriented breakfasts. Ditto for La Brasserie. Why the move from the Beverly Hills Hotel? “It was my chance to put my signature here on this property,” says Nieto.

New Places: There must be a serious demand for mid-priced soy-sauce-laden foods around here, because three Chinese restaurant chains have decided to expand in our direction. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, a chain based in Scottsdale, Ariz., that already has branches in Newport Beach, Irvine and La Jolla, is coming to El Segundo in June. The new location will be at 2041 Rosecrans Ave. It will join its sibling restaurants in serving traditional Chinese cuisine in an American bistro setting. . . . Pick Up Stix, headquartered in San Clemente, just opened a branch in Granada Hills. You can watch your cream cheese wontons and California rolls being made in the exhibition kitchen as you order at the counter, then you eat in or take it out. Pick Up Stix likes to emphasize the light and healthy qualities (and absence of MSG) in its entrees. Pick Up Stix, the Granada Village Center, 18105 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills; (818) 366-1688. . . . Pei Yin Ko and Kwan Lap Yu own Gourmet Carousel in San Francisco. It can’t quite be called a chain, because the only other location just opened in L.A.'s Chinatown. Ko also eschews MSG and says that the new location serves lots of seafood dishes, like the San Francisco one, but it emphasizes dim sum. Gourmet Carousel opens at 8 a.m. to serve Hong Kong-style dim sum breakfast to anyone who’s ready for dumplings first thing in the morning. Open daily serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Gourmet Carousel, 911 N. Broadway, L.A.; (213) 617-9313.

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New Places (Non-Chinese): Tequila Jack’s has opened next door to the Yard House. After the fold of their first idea for the space, Oink’s, Yard House owners Steve Reynolds and Steel Platt decided that a beach-house Mexican cantina would mesh better. Tequila Jack’s has a thing or two in common with the Yard House, apart from ownership: viz., chef Mike Doctulero, a waterfront patio and a bar serving obsessive varieties of a particular beverage. For the Yard House, that means more than 250 varieties of beer; Tequila Jack’s has--you guessed it--more than 90 types of tequila (and counting). Tequila Jack’s, 407 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach; (562) 628-0454.

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Adding a Mandarette: The ever-popular Mandarette, that updated Chinese cafe in West Hollywood, opened another location in Beverly Hills recently. The menu at the new place is slightly different. Lunch is all dumplings (steamed, poached and pan-fried) and noodles so that the kitchen can crank the food out fast for people in a hurry. Dinner features the most popular dishes from the West Hollywood restaurant and from sister restaurant Ben Pao in Chicago. The new Mandarette is roomier than its West Hollywood cousin. It is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, serving until 1 a.m. every night except Sunday, when it closes at 10 p.m. The Mandarette, 9513 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 385-1188.

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Last-Minute Mother’s Day Plans: Posto is offering a three-course brunch for $35. Mom gets her choice of an appetizer like prosciutto and poached pears with blue cheese, an entree--osso buco, perhaps, or sea bass--and a dessert, e.g. hazelnut bread pudding with chocolate sauce. Brunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This menu will also be available at dinner along with the regular dinner menu from 5 to 10 p.m. Posto, 14929 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 784-4400. . . . Valentino gets into the act with free jasmine sorbet for all moms who come for dinner between 5 and 10 p.m. It’s owner Piero Selvaggio’s way of carrying on a Sicilian tradition of honoring mother symbolically with flowers. It can be your way of giving mom a flower that won’t wilt the day after. Valentino, 3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 829-4313. . . . Cicada is having a four-course Mother’s Day menu of mixed baby greens and hearts of palm salad; artichoke ravioli; sea bass or lamb shank for the entree; and strawberry vanilla almond cake. It’s $39.95. Children can have a $20 menu of their own. Cicada will be open from 12 to 7:30 p.m. Cicada, 617 S. Olive, L.A.; (213) 655-5559. . . . Victor Hodd’s, newly open for Sunday brunch, is having a Mother’s Day buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The price is $25 and it includes a mimosa or Bloody Mary. Some of the buffet items include leg of lamb, baked ham, smoked brisket, poached salmon, pastas, salads, vegetables and desserts. (P.S.: Hodd’s will also be open for lunch as of June 1.) Victor Hodd’s, 7953 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (213) 822-9652. . . . Moonlight, a Vegas-style supper club, is offering moms either a free entree in a regular dinner or the Mother’s Day Feast for only $7. The feast is a sampling of eight house specialties; for non-moms it will cost $29.95. Dessert may be added for $6. Entertainment will be the Brazilian dance and music show called “The Girls From Brazil.” Moonlight, 13730 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 788-2000.


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