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Restaurant offers taste of Belgium

Hand-embroidered table linens, Limoges china, crystal goblets and candles are the setting in the cozy, new Six Tables restaurant. Soft classical music and a ceiling decorated with vines and tiny lights complete the mood.

The restaurant, in the Emerson Square shopping center at 1153 Main St., has no menu. It offers a six-course continental meal for the fixed price of $39.

Six Tables is open only for dinner at two sittings, each for 16 people. Diners are served a six-course meal beginning with champagne and hors d'oeuvres and ending with a rich dessert, all created by chef Roland Levi, who owns the restaurant with his wife Gail.

Levi changes the courses from day to day, depending on what fruits, vegetables, meats and fishes are available at market.

"I cook everything on the minute," said Levi, his words heavily accented by the French of his native Belgium. "I don't use anything frozen."

Mrs. Levi, hostess and manager, said she shopped locally for the antiques used in the restaurant. "We wanted it to be subtle and low-key," she said. "With only six tables, it's very intimate."

Belgian beers made by monks and French wines imported by Oliver Trading Co. of St. Petersburg can be ordered with meals. The wines are "an exclusive line of Bordeaux wines," said Sherry Oliver, president of Oliver Trading Co. She and her husband Gene Oliver, chief executive officer of SouthTrust Bank of West Florida, established the company a year ago.

Levi, 58, was born in Antwerp and went to culinary school in Brussels. He worked in restaurants and hotels in Europe before immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1970s, he said, "to find the American dream."

He has managed and owned restaurants in Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala., and in Ensenada, Mexico. He also has been a private chef to wealthy families.

In 1988, Levi worked for James and Cluny Komack of Beverly Hills, Calif. Mr. Komack, who died in December, wrote and produced such television shows as Welcome Back, Kotter; Chico and the Man and My Favorite Martian.

In a letter of recommendation, Mrs. Komack described Levi as a "superb Belgian chef. His food presentations are outstanding. We entertain formally a great deal and he has never failed to please our guests. They have repeatedly given him rave reviews."

Last year, the Levis were living in New York City and he was working as a private chef, when they decided to move to Pinellas County and start another restaurant. They had vacationed here for a number of years and two years ago bought a home in Safety Harbor, where Mrs. Levi's parents live.

"We wanted to settle in a place where our children can come and visit," Mrs. Levi said..

The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday.