Gregg Hunter’s Newspace


Some likely restaurant locations seem to be jinxed. Consider the heavy traffic juncture at Sunset Blvd. and N. Gower St., where three spacious upscale operations have failed over a short span. Originally introduced as a fusion menu house by “M*A*S*H” star Wayne Rogers, and then twice attempted by Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group, first as Patina Hollywod and again as a restaurant called “eat.” Now comes the latest re-design as La Vida Restaurant & Lounge, a Spanish influenced SEG concept replete with lush green palm fonds, lyrical arches, and white plaster walls played against by blue and black banquettes, plus a giant fire pit to lure outdoor patio bar visitors to escape the city while leisurely dining. It’s all upscale and sensual, and Chef Joseph Panarello has created a Cal-fresh menu with plenty of Spanish-flavor touches, including a starter platter of razor-thin cuts of Kobe carpaccio sprinkled with piquillo peppers and grated goat cheese. Proceed to an intriguing organic heirloom tomato salad and then consider a main disarray clams and chorizo paella.
Club developer Breed has provided a large back room with a DJ booth and dance floor for private parties, but the emphasis is on memorable dining and service. Hopefully this latest concept will exert broader appeal than previous attempts. Place your bets!
Some folks really like to cook, but most of us lack the time and/or the talent to prepare distinctive, quick and nutritious meals. As the economy puts more emphasis on home cooking, the savvy small appliance makers are moving into homes in a big way. From this day forward we will be a nation that cooks entire meals with the press of a finger or two.
Makers like Frigidaire are adding a one-punch frozen pizza button next to the popcorn button on their new microwaves, and the latest “smart ovens” do 90% of the thinking and recognize the difference between white or dark meat or the timing needs of glass or metal cookware. Currently, only top of the line ovens, such as more made by Kenmore and LG, apply such True Cook tricks. Going a step further, deluxe models by Panasonic feature an on-the-door list of foods and quantities to be prepared by simply dialing the corresponding number and then pushing that button!
Of course, such grand new gadgets all cost money, and convenience products are way pricier than fresh foods, so before you jump into automation, consider cooking lessons, or play it smart and apply the only tried and true way to make kitchen mistakes vanish. Just make reservations.

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