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Mode: Fashionably Late-Night

On a deserted Fashion District block, a few steps from a dime-a-dance joint and anchoring what will probably be yet another new condo strip, Mode is a cheerful beacon in the dark, a new 24-hour brasserie for those of us who urgently need oysters at 3 a.m. The restaurant is designed to look kind of like a fashion-show runway, tables lining either side of a glowing, blue catwalk terminating at an altarlike video screen showing models walking toward you down other runways. A wall is plastered with a huge photo-mural of young spectators gazing up toward what may or may not be yet another runway — Mode is a fashionista’s house of mirrors. The kitchen, run as a sideline by Royale chef Eric Ernest, is very much still in its shakedown period, but tends toward California-inflected French food: Basque-style scallops with sautéed red peppers, mussels with fries, frisée salad with poached egg and bacon, oysters with a sharp mignonette, as well as the inevitable steak-frites, croque madame and roasted chicken breast. The liquor license isn’t in place yet, the cooking will have to improve, and Mode isn’t quite in 24-hour swing. But when the bars are closed, the TV Café seems too much, and you just can’t face the harsh light of the Pantry, Mode may be the only game in town. 916 S. Olive St., downtown, (213) 627-4888.

—Jonathan Gold

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