Sorry, Jeeves: It seems a little real estate wheeling and dealing wasn't quite complete when we reported a few weeks back that Fred Eric of Vida was set to take over Tom Bergin's on Fairfax. The property's owner, John Makhani, says he had a verbal agreement with both Eric and the owners of Tom Bergin's until this week, when Makhani signed a lease with Bergin's. But Eric maintains that he has a signed lease with Makhani. However, that's not what Makhani says. "No, he doesn't. My office may have sent him a standard lease, but not a signed lease." Makhani also says he had explained to Eric that he couldn't make any final commitment until the present tenant (Tom Bergin's) moved out, "but I did tell him that the present tenant had no interest in staying."
Until now the owners of Tom Bergin's, T.K. Vodrey and his partner Michael Mandekic, had only a month-to-month lease with Makhani. Vodrey confirms he and Mandekic weren't interested in extending their lease. But once word hit that Eric was considering the space, Vodrey and Mandekic parted ways, allowing Vodrey to sign a one-year lease with a five-year conditional renewal clause. That leaves Eric out in the cold.
Eric tells us, "I have two options: either I sue [Makhani] myself, which I'm not going to do because it's not worth the time, or I have to find another location."
Meanwhile, he's had to tell everyone he'd already hired that the grill club, which he planned to call Jeeves, is on hold for the moment. "What can you do?" Eric asks. "You win some, you lose some."
Vodrey took the plunge because, he says, "I had a great feeling that if we lose Bergin's, then [L.A. will] lose Musso & Frank's, and then there's nothing left [of the old L.A. chop houses]," he says.
Vongerichten Visit: The folks at Campanile have invited chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, from Jean-Georges, JoJo, Vong and Kitchen in New York, to come by L.A. and sign copies of his new book, "Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home With a Four-Star Chef." So on Sept. 25, while Vongerichten scrawls his signature, Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton will be whipping up recipes from his book for a five-course dinner. The cost is $95 per person. Reservations are being taken from 5:30 to 11 p.m. The book will be available at $35 per copy. Campanile, 624 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; (213) 938-1447.
Long-Distance Wok: The Regent Beverly Wilshire has brought chef Sam Leong all the way from the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore just to cook dinner. The curious can sample his New Asia cuisine at a $55 six-course meal tonight from 6 to 10. Dishes include deep-fried pork ribs with coffee sauce, garlic-marinated steamed Maine lobster in a spicy sauce and chilled avocado cream with pomelo. The Dining Room in the Regent Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 274-8179.
Eating for Art: A few spaces are still available for the Art of the Palate '98 dinner party series to benefit the L.A. County Museum of Art. Starting tonight, participants (who pay anywhere from $225 to $500 per person for the privilege) will dine in enticing locales all over the city. Seats are still available for a few dinners in private homes and on a yacht. Call (323) 857-6182 to reserve.
Brentwood in Every Bite: The 11th annual Taste of Brentwood kicks off Sept. 27 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It's a sidewalk affair, with local restaurants setting up stations all along San Vicente Boulevard between Bringham and Darlington. Look for bites from Chin Chin, Clay Pit, Daily Grill, Gaucho Grill, Hamburger Hamlet, Monkee's Seafood, San Gennaro, Taiko, Toscana-Rosti, Wolfgang Puck Cafe and Woodside. Admission is free, tastes are $2 to $6 each. The event is more than just noshing, though: There will also be live music, clowns for the kids and, for die-hard spenders, auctions. Dress is casual. For more information, call the event coordinator at (310) 442-1384.
Chasen's Offspring: Chasen's--that is the "new" Chasen's in Beverly Hills--plans to launch a casual cafe in the old Max Factor building at 1616 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood. Chasen's Hollywood Cafe will be a neighbor to the new Hollywood History Museum. The people at Chasen's tell us their new baby will be "a fun, hip cafe with good food," but nobody's saying who the chef will be yet. Plans are to open at the beginning of the year. . . . Nicholas and Frederic Meschin, who own the Little Door and Pan Am Sandwich, both in the 3rd Street-Fairfax Avenue area, have a new project. They've revamped Bo Kaos bar on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills and turned it into Brasserie Sans Te^te. The name translates into "headless brasserie." Huh? More details forthcoming. . . . La Masia in West Hollywood is celebrating its 27th birthday this year, so owner Josie Prado is offering 27% off food bills for diners who show up any night before 7. This promotion runs through November, but be aware that La Masia is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. La Masia, 9077 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 273-7066. . . . The phone number for City Pier Seafood was printed incorrectly last week. The correct number is (213) 617-2489.
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