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These Just In 

Welcome, new things

Wednesday, Sep 23 1998
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BEST HARDCORE COFFEE

Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Before the onset of our nation’s biggest drug problem — Starbucks — there was Peet’s. Since 1966, Peet’s has roasted, sold and served some of the world’s finest dark-roast coffees (and damn good blends) to people lined up each morning all over the Bay Area; and shipped the stuff all over the world, always within 24 hours of roasting. Now Peet’s — to Starbucks what Bill Hicks is to Gallagher — has come south (exclamation). More powerful, more confident, denser and more intense beans than Peet’s French Roast you will not find in any metropolitan area this side of Istanbul. Unless you do, in which case please leave the address and phone number at the tone, and I’ll get back to you. 605 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena; (626) 795-7413. (Dave Shulman)

 

BEST DE-ANGSTULATED COFFEEHOUSE & NEIGHBORHOOD PLAYPEN

Dolphin House. Coffeehouses have sprouted up like dandelions in the ’90s, which I suppose is preferable to a boom in taverns or crack houses. But it’s overkill all the same. One boîte that transcends the familiar creaky-cappuccino-machine-and-dank-lighting vibe is Toni Childs’ Dolphin Cafe. With its porpoise-friendly décor and sunny courtyard, it’s a pleasant enough scene, with high-quality coffee and a bunch of Internet-accessible computers (the New Age answer to a cup and the Times) set up in the front for public use at a minimal charge. Best of all is the Saturday-morning "Celebrity Story book" reading, with such personalities as Maureen "Marcia Brady" McCor mick and Melrose Place and NYPD Blue cast members reciting kiddie classics. Imagine sauntering in on a Saturday morn, barely awake, to the spectacle of, say, Joe Pesci intoning "Three Little Pigs." Only in L.A. 1732 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 822-1415. (Johnny Angel)

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BEST NEW CULTURAL CENTER

Skirball Cultural Center. Where once the sheep of the Spaniards grazed, culture now looms large. The sprawl of UCLA nestles into the bottom of Sepulveda Pass; the tidy settlement of the University of Judaism stands at its crown. Between the two, the gleaming prospect of the Getty Center (in progress) teases the eye. The Skirball Cultural Center, which opened a little more than a year ago, is more modest in proportion, but it’s already a handsome and valuable member of the Sepulveda enclave. The center includes a museum of Jewish life and art, a study center, an uncommonly comfortable 350-seat auditorium for concerts and lectures, a "Discovery Center" to introduce kids to Jewish history and archaeology, a pleasant restaurant, and — from its vast, fountained courtyard — a spectacular view. It bears the name of Jack Skirball, born in 1896, who began as a rabbi and became a movie producer of such works as Hitchcock’s Saboteur and Shadow of a Doubt. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.; (310) 440-4500. (Alan Rich)

 

BEST PLACE TO SPOT THE CAST OF HELIOTROPE LANE 90026

The Fold at the Silverlake Lounge. Hot nightspots in L.A. have the life span of an anemic fruit fly, or so it seems. This year’s packed-to-the-rafters is next year’s wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-in, and so it goes. When I last scribed regularly for this paper, Raji’s was still going strong as the dump du jour, and it took an act of nature to end that wonderful dive’s reign. The most Raji’s-like venue currently offering ear-mangling indie bands and obscure dance stuff in between is the Silverlake Lounge. Booked and operated by filmmaker Scott Sterling (who creates posters for most gigs — start saving ’em), the Lounge is a Monday-through-Thursday deal, and possibly the most neighborhoodly joint ever to offer noisy joys. The rest of the week, the Lounge is home to Latino drag shows (in their own way, a laff riot), but midweek it’s a gathering of the Silver Lake clan that hasn’t yet become bridge-and-tunneled to death. Cozy and unpretentious, this is where real scenes begin, not the A&R laboratories to the west. Drink prices are reasonable (beer $2.75, well drinks $3), the cover seems fair, and the bands aren’t in-your-face hustlers. I felt right at home the first time I stepped through the door, too. Get it while you can. 2906 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (213) 666-2407. (Johnny Angel)

 

I’M YOUR BOY ELROY. I’ll BE YOUR WAITER.

Encounter. By now, most people have heard of designer Eddie Sotto’s $3.5 million face-lift of LAX’s Theme Building. In addition to its four-star global-modern cuisine, Encounter is becoming a groovy, Jetsons-like venue for cocktails and dancing. On Fridays, DJ Señor Amor spins the best in jet-set à gogo to an eclectic crowd of Silver Lake hipsters and Swedish tourists. And this fall, the observation deck will reopen as the Outer Encounter, featuring live music underneath the building’s spiderlike support beams, now lit dramatically with multicolored lights that change colors as often as planes fly in and out of the murky sky. 209 World Way, LAX; (310) 215-5151. (Joe Sehee)

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