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End-of-Year Feasting 

A roundup of where to dine--from pizza to Perrier Jouet

As I reflect on the past year, I can only think that it politically and economically sucked, and Mother Nature hurled her wrath in an ugly way not to be forgotten. However, that doesn't mean you should stay home to stew about it. Grab the last brass ring of the season, and get out there to feast and have some fun. My only request is that if you drink, drive responsibly, or call a taxi.

Here's a good idea if you want to start early but still be festive. The bar at Jonathan's Tucson Cork will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. for happy-hour appetizers including margarita shrimp and baked brie canapés. Dinner specials are surf (lobster tail) and turf (filet mignon) for $37.95 and veal oscar, $28.95, plus a complimentary champagne toast at midnight; 6320 E. Tanque Verde Road; 296-1631.

Pastiche Modern Eatery will be serving a prix fixe menu from 4 p.m. until midnight for $55 per person plus tax, gratuity and beverages. What does prix fixe mean? 1. A complete meal of several courses, sometimes with choices permitted, offered by a restaurant at a fixed price. 2. A fixed price charged for such a meal. 3. An unforgettable three-course meal created by Chef Don Kishensky. Think salads, scampi, escargot, mushroom soufflé, filet mignon, lobster tail and mahi mahi. In addition, Pastiche will have a dessert menu and a specially priced wine menu. Reservations are strongly recommended; 3025 N. Campbell Ave.; 325-3333.

The winner for the most entertaining menu without a doubt is Cuvée World Bistro's third annual "Can't We All Just Get Along" four-course dinner, which costs $65 without wine and $80 with a wine pairing at each course. First course is "Spain nibbles Italy's ear," which means sweet potato raviolis in a light goat cheese cream and fresh sage matched with Spanish wine. Or you could opt for "France flirts with Norway and spoons with the Russian Federation." You would be eating sevruga caviar over crispy potato cakes with gravlax roses and herbed citron crème fraîche served with Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec champagne. For the second course, "France plays with itself"; well, enough said. Saturday Night Live would have fun with this at 3352 E. Speedway Blvd.; 881-7577.

Both Kingfisher and Bluefin are in the swim with special menus from 5 p.m. to midnight. At the former (2564 E. Grant Road; 323-7739), entrée prices range from $18 to $32 for grilled prime rib of buffalo, lobster tart and roasted loin monkfish; there's also live music by George Howard and Arthur Migliazza from 8 p.m. to midnight. At the latter (7053 N. Oracle Road; 531-8500), entrée prices range from $21 to 35 for baked sea scallops, macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi, New York steak and baked oysters Rockefeller, plus a four-course prix fixe menu for $45 per person, with music by Mestizo from 8 p.m. to midnight; complimentary champagne toasts are included at both.

Elle will be serving its regular menu along with two nightly specials for $19 and a wine lovers' menu for $42, which includes fried oysters with basil-lemon aioli, Perrier Jouet grand brut champagne, flank steak roulade stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and parmesan cheese over mashed potatoes with seasonal vegetable and roasted shallot demi-glaze paired with Franciscan Oakville Estate cabernet sauvignon; at 3048 E. Broadway Blvd; 327-0500.

Wildflower, Bistro Zin, NoRTH and Montana Avenue are ready to welcome the New Year in a delicious way. All four eateries will offer two seatings and three-course prix fixe menus specially created for the holiday. With something for every palate, offerings will include the outstanding New American cuisine at Wildflower, hearty bistro entrées at Bistro Zin, delicious modern Italian cuisine at NoRTH and updated classic comfort foods from Montana Avenue. The first seating will take place from 4 to 5:45 p.m. at a cost of $40 per person. Later seatings begin at 6 p.m. for $60 per person. The seatings do not include tax, and an 18 percent gratuity will be added to the bill. Reservations are requested and must be guaranteed with a credit card at Wildflower, 7037 N. Oracle Road, 219-4230; Bistro Zin, 1865 E. River Road, 299-7799; NoRTH, 2995 E. Skyline Drive, 299-1600; and Montana Avenue, 6390 E. Grant Road; 298-2020.

Soleil, la grand dame of French cuisine and vintage champagnes, features an elegant five-course dinner beginning with a champagne aperitif, plus a champagne/wine pairing for each course for an additional $30 per person. Dinner costs $85 per person, with the gourmet vegetarian menu $65 per person. The jazz quartet begins at 6:30 p.m. and plays until midnight for a champagne toast;

3001 E. Skyline Drive; 299-3345.

At St. Philip's Plaza, Chef Albert Hall of Acacia presents a six-course dinner with two seatings. The first is for the early birds at 5:30 to 6 p.m. featuring jazz at $85 per person. The second seating is at 9 to 9:30 p.m. with music for dancing at $100 per person. Indulge in caviar, foie gras, bluefin tuna, mélange of organic greens plus a choice of three entrées, and ménage a trois for dessert; beverages and gratuity not included; 4340 N. Campbell Ave.; 232-0101.

The Westward Look Resort not only offers spectacular city views but a telescope for stargazing. At the Gold Room, dine at 5:30 p.m. with a three-course dinner for $55 per person plus tax and gratuity, or wait for the four-course dinner (includes appetizer) at 7 or 9 p.m. for $79. Both dinner options include a champagne toast, choice of soup or salad, entrée and chocolate symphony for dessert. In the more casual Lookout Bar and Grille, choose comfort food with a twist of small, medium and large plates until 10 p.m. Admission to the Santa Catalina Ballroom for live music from 7 to 10 p.m., followed by a DJ playing recorded music until 1 a.m., is $40 per person, which includes tickets for two well drinks, dancing, party favors and a midnight champagne toast. Appetizers are available for purchase; 245 E. Ina Road; 297-1151.

Tucson's one-named wonder Janos invites revelers to partake in Janos' five-course tasting menu paired with wines for $150 per person (without wine $110); tax and gratuity not included. Champagne and wine come from Sonoma and Napa, Australia, Austria and Hungary. Foie gras, two kinds of caviar, squab, lamb and a trilogy of desserts are just some of the delicious offerings that require a culinary encyclopedia to comprehend. As the celebration continues throughout the evening, Jeff Grubic and Naim Amor will serenade Janos guests with their own version of jazz standards. Janos will present guests with sparkling wine and parting gifts featuring Anjelita Montoya's cascarones. At adjacent J-Bar, a four-course menu features a choice of the foods we love, like salmon ceviche, chilaquiles with smoked poblano crema, rubbed New York strip steak and dessert for $65 per person; excluding tax, tip and beverages. For reservations call 615-6100; 3770 E. Sunrise Drive.

Terra Cotta rings in 2006 starting at 4 p.m. with a three-course prix fixe menu for $75 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). If I were going, I'd choose the seared ahi tuna cake with tamarind butter, achiote-rubbed pork loin with caramelized sweet potatoes and hazelnut raspberry fantasy. There appear to be good choices for vegetarians, too; 3500 E. Sunrise Drive; 577-8100.

After dark, the Cup Café fades to warm golden lighting against art deco accents, filling the room with romantic warmth reminiscent of a '40s movie set. This year, they have decided to keep it simple with a choice of one entrée from the menu, soup or salad, and a glass of champagne for $29.95 per person and $54.95 per couple. Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.; 798-1618.

Put a little salsa in your New Year's Eve at El Parador, which will be open for dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m. with dinner specials as well as the regular menu, ranging from $11.95 to $24.95. Then stick around and dance the meringues from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Reservations guarantee a table, champagne and party favors for $25 per person; walk-ins are $35 per person; 2744 E. Broadway Blvd.; 881-2808.

Bring a bit of the tropics to your celebration at The Keys. Dinner is served from 6 to 9 p.m. and consists of a four-course meal with shrimp cocktail, island salad, prime rib or salmon, dessert and a split of champagne for $45 per person; 445 W. Wetmore Road; 888-8084; live music starts at 9 p.m.

The "Save the Last Dance" disco party bursts on the scene from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort's Grand Ballroom. Receive three drinks, dueling DJs, a choice of one appetizer and a disco drop at midnight with champagne and party favors for $65 per person; 7000 N. Resort Drive; 299-2020, ext. 5151.

If you'd rather stay home and watch the ball drop, consider ordering pizza from Magpies, which will be delivering until 10:30 p.m. To find the Magpies nearest you, check www.magpiespizza.com.

After a hard day's night of partying, the Grill downtown will be open around the clock. Hey, where else can you get tater tots at 3 a.m.? Nowhere but 100 E. Congress Street; 623-7621.

On Sunday Jan. 1, all Xoom Juice smoothies come with a free hangover boost for only $2.06. Xoom doesn't encourage getting hung over, but the remedy is proven effective if you do; available at the 2739 E. Speedway Blvd. location only; 321-9666.

Don't start your diet just yet, because the French Quarter is offering a five-course New Year's Day extravaganza for only $19.95. From the savory starters, you have a choice of five offerings including alligator tail in jerk sauce and gumbo. The menu goes on to include gourmet greens, four entrées with sumptuous sides and a choice of dessert; it also includes hush puppies and cornbread, and a mimosa or soft drink. Time to unbuckle your belt a notch. Children less than 12 years old pay $10.95. Reservations required; 3146 E. Grant Rd; 318-4767.

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne. Happy New Year 2006!

More by Karyn Zoldan

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