It's Ugly Out There
Let's face it. Times are tough. Competition is intense. And the heavy rains made lots of regular restaurantgoers hunker down in front of the VCR with takeout. So everybody's trying something to lure in those dollars, I mean diners — music, special prix-fixe meals or unlimited wine. You heard me, all you can drink. Last Sunday, Elka Gilmore's downtown French place, LibertŽ, launched a new $39.95 three-course dinner with unlimited wine by the glass. And the choices, among two reds, two whites and one sparkling wine nightly, are not from the jug: Taittinger champagne, Louis Jadot Pouilly-FuissŽ, Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva. Wow! All they need to do now is throw in taxi service.

Save the Trees
There are two contestants in the bizarre-press-release-of-the-week category. One comes from Godiva Chocolatier, which breaks the big story that “in a move that's sure to make Jewish mothers very happy,” Godiva will be certified kosher in time for Mother's Day. Later down we learn that “Godiva will not be kosher for Passover, a certification that is awarded according to slightly different standards.” Oy vey.

How about the news that San Francisco Mensa issues an invitation to meet freelance economist and restaurant critic Louis Madison, who will discuss “affordable and good-quality alternatives to the trendy and pricey restaurants we have all encountered in San Francisco.” The last time I checked, finding a good, cheap restaurant in San Francisco wasn't exactly mind-bending.

Out of the Kitchen
Among the high-profile chefs sighted at the Meals on Wheels preview bash at One Market: Gerald Hiroygen of Fringale, who was all atwinkle with the news that he's shopping for a new location, adding that he has a cookbook coming out in August. Meals on Wheels celebrates 25 years of delivering meals to the homebound elderly of San Francisco with a gala at One Market on Sat, April 29; call 920-1111.

You've ordered, your meal has arrived and just as you're about to dive in, your waitperson arrives bearing a huge pepper mill. “Would you care for some fresh ground pepper?” he/she asks, as if offering a great delicacy. I've had it with this. It's an inevitable conversation interrupter to boot. Plump Jack has the right idea: small pewter pepper mills on each table. I know, people steal, but it's like hotel towels: The people who would steal them can't afford the place. Or how about tiny magnetic sensors?

By Barbara Lane

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