Tuesday, August 17, 1999
Hollywood’s elite dine out
and chew up the scenery
LOS ANGELES – At Tinseltown’s better restaurants, the food is fine and the art is exquisite. And the entertainment – well, it can be stellar.
Annette Bening nursed an infant while cracking crab at Crustacean in Beverly Hills, where the rich and famous go for French-inflected Vietnamese. “Not an easy task,” says Elizabeth An, whose family owns and runs the restaurant, but one that Bening handled with grace: “She looked like a mother-goddess.”
A few miles east at Mimosa, Dustin Hoffman forgot his wallet and called a flunky to fetch it. (It arrived within the half-hour). And when one well-known actress exited the same restaurant after an intimate dinner, she left her panties behind under a booth in the back.
Happily, owner Silvio Demori didn’t have to find a delicate way of returning the delicates: The actress came back to retrieve them within the hour – and without a hint of embarrassment.
Not all performances take place at the table, of course. Tony Curtis serenaded wife Jill Vanden Berg from the bandstand at Crustacean. Stevie Wonder, Harry Connick Jr. and Whitney Houston have all been known to seize the microphone at the venerable Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
And though it’s known more as a power-lunch or let’s-have-drinks palace than as a romantic rendezvous, singer Mariah Carey has been seen recently nuzzling boyfriend Luis Miguel over dinner there.
It’s calmer there than in the old days: The Polo Lounge was where, in a ‘50s brawl unpublicized until now, Frank Sinatra’s bodyguard chucked a chair at a table where guests had been glaring at Ol’ Blue Eyes and his dinner companions. At one point in the melee, Sinatra himself allegedly had his hands around a combatant’s throat.
Sometimes stars can make it through a meal without stealing the scene – and certainly restaurateurs don’t mind when the food remains the focus.
Halle Berry loved the risotto with portobello mushrooms at Pagani so much that she was known to reserve a month in advance. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck – their offices are next door – liked the lobster won ton and the Chilean sea bass. (Pagani had to close its doors last week, which means those stars will have to go elsewhere until George Pagani finds new backers.)
Hollywood VIPs take luxe eating seriously. One producer was so taken with the Polo Lounge’s cracked crab that he called to have a room-service waiter fly it – first class, of course – to the East Coast.
No kidding. Two days in a row.
By Sue Facter