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Agura, Famous Cupcakes, Thyme Cafe and Market

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1) West Hollywood: It was once a church, then an antique store and now three years later with a 13-foot buddha as the focal point of the dining room comes Agura, a French-Japanese hybrid on La Cienega. While Agura is in fact a high-end izakaya chain in Japan, this is the first US outpost and will serve a completely different menu. The large space includes a separate bar and lounge area that are located off to the left from the restaurant's entrance with the main dining room to the right. Carved gold rococo swirls along the walls, a large crystal chandelier, and a gold-flecked buddha dot the room with perceived opulence. As a whole the restaurant seats 160. This includes the al fresco dining patio where guests can look out on to La Cienega, the sushi bar, plus the handful of private dining spaces within the main room. Traditional Japanese seating (no shoes allowed) exists in three tatami booths in addition to another larger private room that spans one wall. Though we were on hand for yesterday's soft opening par-tay basically only sushi was served since the full menu is still a work in progress. So, Agura is currently in soft opening mode and will officially debut to the public on November 9. 514 N. La Cienega Blvd.

2) Beverly Hills: The Skinny Critic reports that the cupcake craze is not over. Yesterday, the second location of Famous Cupcakes launched, perhaps infringing on Sprinkles territory (only a few blocks away). In a weird (and somewhat frightening) ploy to attract customers in to the cupcakery, two giant women on stilts wearing gauzy white attire attempted to greet (scare?) pedestrians on a red carpet. Uh, yeah. 168 S. Beverly Dr.; website

3) Santa Monica: Plywood vet Thyme Café and Market officially opens today. If Joan's on Third got together with Dean & Deluca and produced offspring, this would be it. Conceived by catering chef Maire Byrne (Thyme Catering), Thyme serves as both a casual restaurant that specializes in seasonal breakfast/lunch fare as well as a retail space where one can pick up a frozen entree to cook at home. Starting today Thyme is opened 7a-3p Mon-Sat, but will eventually transition to the hours of 7a-7p. 1630 Ocean Park Blvd.; 310-399-8800; website

Agura

514 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

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