Favorite Bistro Like Friend.
Shelley Calls It The Greatest

By Vern Lanegrasse

       I can’t believe it was 1963 since Kit Marshal had opened a small intimate restaurant at 1230 N. Vine Street, next door to the Hollywood Ranch Market.
I remember the first time I walked into the dining room to be greeted by the maitre d’ and heard a very joyous Shelly Winters greet me with: “You are in the best French restaurant this side of Paris.” I had to agree and have been a constant camp follower ever since.

     Au Petit Café was the first bistro-type French restaurant in the area. Today there are more than 50 of this style dining places located in the city and Au Petit Café is really the “father” of them all. Several waiters, chefs and maitre d’s that were formerly employed by Kit Marshal now have their own places.

     After meeting with such ovations and continued patronage by advertising executives, studio executives, socially prominent Angelenos as well as famous movie, television and recording personalities,

     Kit had to expand his now famous restaurant. To me, it was a stroke of genius. He couldn’t go up, he couldn’t expand the walls, he could do only one thing; go under.

     Kit took the basement and turned it into one of Los Angeles’ most charming dining rooms. A large bar was installed on one wall. A large wine cellar was tucked away above the tables and booths in one corner and mirrors in every shape and size were hung above the wainscoting to the ceiling. I haven’t had the heart to ask who cleans them, as they always seem to sparkle, reflecting all the lights and colors of the cave-like room. I truly feel I am once again in the Burgundy region of France.
     Enrique Ibarz has been executive chef since 1965. The menu, presented on a blackboard on the wall, offers incomparable French cuisine. Luncheon at $5,25 includes such a wide selection as Sole Amandine, Sand Dabs Veronique, Chicken Tarragon, Steak Tartare, Roast Leg of Lamb.

     The appetizers, which are also served for dinner, include Escargots, Shrimp Escoffier, Duck Pate, Scampi and Scallops Bordelaise as well as wonderful array of salads including Niçoise, fresh mushrooms, cucumber, artichoke, hearts of palm, tomato and on and on. There are daily specials at lunch and dinner.

     Dinner at Au Petit Café starts at $7.75, all entrees are served with fresh vegetables. Include Abalone Meunière, Roast Duck with Peaches, Salmon with Sorrel Sauce, Veal with Wild Mushrooms, New York Steak Bercy, Trout Grenobloise, Pheasant Morilles, Rack of Lamb or Chicken Tarragon (one of my favorites), Fresh Pompano flown in from the Florida coast.

     Au Petit Café is open every day but Sunday. Luncheon is served Monday through Friday, 12:30 p. m. to 2 p.m. Dinner is available from 6 p. m. Monday through Saturday. Reservations are imperative for lunch and dinner. Call (213 469-7176.

     Kit Marshal, I wish you and Au Petit Café a very happy 12th year and I look forward to 12 more years of fine dining in the French manner. I have always been a fan and I will remain one as long as you serve such delicious French cuisine and have one of the best wine lists available in the heart of Hollywood, my hometown.