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On the Horizon
One of the most anticipated restaurant projects of 2003 is underway on the corner of Magazine and Gen. Pershing streets, in the space most recently known as Irwin's Flower Salon. Joel Dondis, owner of Joel catering company, is the man behind the plan, which is scheduled for completion in late September. Anton Schulte, a former chef at Joel, and his wife, Diane, currently a manager at Peristyle (1041 Dumaine St., 593-9535), are Dondis' managing partners. The trio have not yet released a name for the restaurant, but Dondis says that the food will be influenced by French and New Orleans cooking techniques.

Welcome Addition
La Nouvelle Cafe
(3650 Magazine St., 269-8130) fills another niche in the same neighborhood. Before the restaurant opened in January, there were precious few places to grab a decent cup of coffee between Louisiana and Jefferson avenues. The new cafe just happens to serve an upstanding cappuccino, complete with table service and outdoor seating. Along with coffees and pastries, Owner Mandi Foudil also serves European-style salads and sandwiches.

Sibling Serving
Brother-sister restaurateur team Raymond and Kathleen "Kappa" Horn opened Slim Goodies Diner (3322 Magazine St., 891-3447) in early March. The slick space and retro menu look promising: meatloaf, grits and salad for $7.50; chili and cheese omelettes for $5.50.

Four of a Kind
The fourth Zea restaurant has opened in Kenner's Esplanade Mall (1401 W. Esplanade Ave.), joining the rotisserie cafe in Harahan, the rotisserie brewery in Metairie and the rotisserie grill in Lafayette. The new location (780-9090) will serve dinner only until the end of the month.

Learning to Love Again
Cafe Matisse
(1803 Bonaparte St., 269-1803) is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase with a drawing to win a dinner with French President Jacques Chirac. With every bottle of French wine purchased during the month of April, diners' names will be tossed into a beret at the restaurant's entrance. Following the May 1 drawing, the winner and five friends will dine with Chirac during his scheduled visit to the city, not on foie gras and Champagne but instead on foods indigenous to Louisiana such as alligator sausage po-boys and Abita Amber.

Through the Grapevine
The spotlight will be on Gallo wines this Thursday at Bacco's (310 Chartres St., 522-2426) five-course, $65 wine dinner beginning at 7 p.m. Here's a taste: Callebaut chocolate torte with candied orange zest and hazelnuts, served with a 1997 Rancho Zabaco Cabernet Port.

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