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RESTAURANT WRITERS GIVE TOP NODS.

Byline: Larry Lipson Daily News Restaurant Critic

The biggest laugh at Monday night's California Restaurant Writers Association awards came when president Bob Gourley resumed the program with some attendees still halfway through their entrees. ``This may have brought new meaning to the words leisurely dining,'' he quipped.

At the annual event at the Wyndham Bel Age hotel, a crowd of 260 restaurant industry people patiently waited for their food at a four-course dinner event that followed a sociable champagne and appetizer reception.

There were few surprises this year. All three five-star winners for 1998-99 repeated: the Dining Room of the Hotel Bel-Air, Diaghilev of the Wyndham Bel Age hotel in West Hollywood and Belvedere of the Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills.

Knocked out of the four-star segment this year are Chinois on Main in Santa Monica, Citrus in Hollywood, Gustaf Anders in Santa Ana and JW's in Anaheim. Jimmy's in Beverly Hills, a four-star winner last year, closed.

Elevated into the illustrious four-star group of 30 restaurants are Chez Melange in Redondo Beach, the Grill of the Huntington-Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, L'Opera in Long Beach, La Cachette in West Los Angeles, Le St. Germain in Indian Wells, Spago in Beverly Hills and the Tower in Los Angeles.

Special award winners include restaurateur of the year Jeff Williams (Clancy's, Jax and Hondo's in Glendale), chef of the year Michael Beck (the Grill in Pasadena) and most promising new restaurant Pinot Provence in Costa Mesa.

Jimmy Cano (Dan Tana's, West Hollywood), this year's maitre d' winner, who was runner-up to his father Phil (Musso & Frank, Hollywood) last year said he was thankful he didn't have to compete against the senior Cano again.

Other awards went to Helen Boimilla of the Bottle Inn in Hermosa Beach, named top service person; Robert Witkowski of the Hotel Bel-Air as No. 1 pastry chef and Paul Bologna of Tuscany in Palm Desert as the year's best sommelier.

John Papadakis (Papadakis, San Pedro) picked up the Mike Roy Pioneer Award and Richard Frank won the Humanitarian Award.

A complete list of 1998-99 one-through-five-star and special-awards winners is available in booklet form for $8 (plus $2 postage and handling) by check to CRWA, 8833 Sunset Blvd., No. 406, West Hollywood, Calif. 90069, (310) 657-4030.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 10, 1999
Words:377
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