A Tasty 'Thank You'
Tiara Cafe offers a walk on the healthy side, with organic versions of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian fare.Photo by Gary Leonard.

When your administrative professional asks what's for lunch, your answer should be "reservations."

Of course, trying to pick the right restaurant to suit his or her personality could be tricky. Hence the following list, which should help you navigate your way through this weeklong holiday (officially celebrated Tuesday, April 24) and make up for that time you asked for 100 documents to be collated at 4:59 p.m.

So treat your hard-working assistant to a good meal at a Downtown Los Angeles restaurant they'll really like. It's the best way to say thank you for putting up with you all year.

The High Profile: Patina is a treat no matter what occasion, and your savvy right-hand man or woman will certainly appreciate it. The stylish restaurant mimics the curves of its host, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and draws everyone from business leaders to high-profile artsy types. Executive Chef Theo Schoenegger offers a wonderful four-course Chef's Market Menu for lunch ($49) that changes daily. But anything off the tempting menu will impress.

At 141 S. Grand Ave., (213) 972-3331 or patinagroup.com.

The Workhorse: For that office maven who needs a bit of relaxation after a hard day's work, Point Moorea might be just the thing. This tiki bar in the Wilshire Grand Hotel offers an unusual happy hour every Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. For $30 you can treat your assistant to a 15-minute massage or manicure, one cocktail and a tasty appetizer. Plus, tarot card reader Anjella Godwin will be on hand to see if a raise is in the future. Also, if the whole office is coming along to celebrate, reserve the Harem Room for a private gathering and order the huge Moorea Platter ($25) with jumbo shrimp, crab cakes, chicken skewers, chicken quesadillas, buffalo shrimp, cheese and fruit.

At 930 Wilshire Blvd., (213) 833-5175 or wilshiregrand.com.

The Adventurous: Headed by affable chef and owner Gilberto Cetina, the Yucatan restaurant Chichen Itza features a menu inspired by Mayan, Spanish and Lebanese flavors. Entrees include the cochinita pibil (pork cooked in banana leaves), pork ribs topped with pumpkin seed green mole, and calamari rings simmered in squid ink. The place is warm and elegant and prices are reasonable. It's the perfect spot for the assistant who likes a bit of flavor.

At 2501 W. Sixth St. (near MacArthur Park), (213) 380-0051 or chichenitzarestaurant.com.

The Casual: If your assistant doesn't like a lot of fuss but you want to treat him or her to a nice lunch or dinner, Warung Cafe in the Old Bank District is the perfect choice. Polished concrete floors lead into an intimate dining room and mellow music. There are about 20 pan-Asian small plates offered, which range in price from $3 for a very filling shitake miso soup to the more upscale seafood ceviche ($9). Warung will definitely make an impression without all the hype.

At 118 W. Fourth St., between Spring and Main streets, (213) 626-0662 or warungcafela.com.

The Trendsetter: Blue Velvet sits on the ground floor of a 150-unit residential building called The Flat. The sleek and trendy space features three lounges, a dining room with a 17-foot sunken granite table and a very trendsetting coed bathroom. Chef Kris Morningstar's cuisine is contemporary American with items such as venison loin over creamed chard and filet mignon with beet hash, oxtail and parsnips. For a sweet end, try the deconstructed rocky road sundae on a bed of torched marshmallow cream.

At 750 Garland Ave., (213) 239-0061.

The Foodie: Downtown seafood emporium Water Grill has been ranked among the city's top 10 restaurants by Zagat and is a frequent stop for foodies. Executive Chef David LeFevre changes the menu daily, and dishes might include tuna tartare with avocado, Ecuadorian mahi mahi and New Zealand John Dory with eggplant puree. Desserts are a delight, especially the chocolate bread pudding and the lemon verbena panna cotta.

At 544 S. Grand Ave., (213) 891-0900 or watergrill.com.

The Old School: Pacific Dining Car is as old school as it gets - but in a good way - drawing stockbrokers, politicos and lawyers who wheel and deal in the high-backed chairs over an early breakfast or rare cowboy steak. A Downtown fixture since 1921, PDC will perfectly suit the assistant who likes to linger over a power lunch (and a martini?).

At 1310 W. Sixth St., (213) 483-6000 or pacificdiningcar.com.

The Sophisticated: High tea in the Millennium Biltmore Hotel's Rendezvous Court is the height of elegance. Your assistant can sip mango-infused tea from dainty china and nibble crustless sandwiches in the same environs where kings, presidents and Hollywood royalty have supped. There are two daily high tea options: Empress Tea ($20) includes a personal teapot, pastries and scones with clotted cream and preserves, and petite sandwiches served on a tiered silver stand. Another $4 buys a glass of sparkling wine, sherry or a kir. The Princess Tea ($16) is a lighter repast without the sandwiches. Amid the stunning Italian-Spanish Renaissance architecture and gurgling fountain, visitors can partake in the elegant ritual from 2-5 p.m.; reservations are recommended.

At 506 S. Grand Ave., (213) 612-1562 or thebiltmore.com.

The Artsy: The still new e3rd, in the heart of the Arts District, is a stylish steakhouse that will appeal to the artsy assistant. The long narrow space flows into the first intimate dining room, then into a spacious lounge with low, circular booths and a psychedelic bar that changes colors like a mood ring (later in the evening). Restaurateur Jason Ha uses Korean marinating techniques - with ingredients including Asian pears, soy, honey, sesame oil and chilies - to create tender cuts of meat like the Pork Lovers Steak and the Asian short ribs. Enjoy lunch while gazing at the commissioned art wall designed by locals.

At 744 E. Third St., (213) 680-3003 or eastthird.com.

The Health Conscious: Fred Eric's whimsical Tiara Café is a Fashion District jewel tucked below the New Mart. From the chocolate fountain near the door to the moss-strewn trees to the candy-colored decor, the fairytale enclave beckons. The eclectic menu uses organic goods to whip up a healthier take on Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian fare. Try the crisp bubble bread with an array of tasty toppings ranging from roasted eggplant to herb chickpea hummus. Other options include a goat cheese pizzette or an organic "Fresh'wich" of grilled shrimp, Granny Smith apples and papaya wrapped in rice paper. Don't forget the thirst-quenching "spa water" infused with cucumber, mint, ginger and grapefruit.

At 127 E. Ninth St., (213) 623-3663 or tiara-cafe.com.

page 16, 4/16/2007

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