EVEN THOUGH the Palace restaurant in New York will serve you prix fixe dinner for $50 (they also have them for $95 and

50) plus 23 percent service, you have still decided not to go. Well how about a $25 lunch, plus 23 percent service? For that you can choose from snails, fish pate, mussels soup with saffron for a first course, a main course of scallops with peppercorns, salmon with sorrel, chicken with vinegar, plus dessert and coffee.

If you still aren't ready for the Palace, you might want to work up to it by trying one of its recipes at home. Served at the restaurant's fifth birthday party earlier this month this French version of Italian carpaccio was excellent. Carpaccio is raw filet or other top quality beef, pounded thin and served with olive oil and Italian vinegar. The palace version dresses the beef with mayonnaise flavored with the cornichons, capers, shallots and chives. It is very rich, so a little goes a long, long way. EMMICE CRU (6 servings) 12 ounces filet of beef, well trimmed 1 egg yolk 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard juice of 1/2 lemon 1/2 cup best quality virgin olive oil 1/4 finely chopped cornichons 1/4 cup finely chopped capers l/4 cup finely chopped parsley 4 shallots, finely chopped l bunch chives, chopped 3 lemons, halved

Slice beef as thinly as possible, then, between sheets of wax paper, pound to paper thinness with mallet or edge of heavy plate. Combine yolk, mustard and lemon juice in blender and blend until well mixed. Add oil in a thin, steady stream, while blender is in operation, until mixture is stiff. Combine cornichons, capers, parsley and shallots with mayonnaise mixture. Spoon a little of the sauce on each of six plates, covering the plate. Arrange the beef on top of the sauce. Spoon remaining sauce over the top.

Decorate with chopped chives and lemon halves.

Raclette, the Swiss dish of melted cheese, pickled onions, boiled new potatoes and cornichons, appears to be making a comeback. Not that it was ever gone that long, or in that long.

When The Big Cheese opened in Georgetown about eight years ago, it featured raclette. The restaurant may have had the first raclette machine in town. Like so many fashionable dishes, it soon went out of fashion. But with the arrival of raclette machines for home use there has been a revived interest in this simple but delicious dish.

So The Big Cheese will start serving it again tomorrow, buffet style at lunch, in its upstairs dining room for $5. It will be on the lunch menu Monday through Thursday.The restaurant will also feature what owner Barbara Witt calls the original onion soup, panade au fromage , really much thicker than soup and loaded with cheese.

Raclette will be on the menu both up and downstairs for dinner. It will be served with the Swiss air-dried beef, bundnerfleisch for $8.

There are signature scarves, signature shoes, signature belts and signature handbags.

Now there are even more signature bags -- paper bags in which you cart your groceries home. One was recently discovered with a load of Safeway groceries in it. The bottom was stamped with the symbol and the words biodegradable and recycle. There were other symbols and numbers on the bottom and to the right the signature of Charley Smith.

Shortly thereafter Anthony Zasa's signature was discovered on the bottom of a bag brought home from the liquor store.

What does it all mean?

More people than ever before may be drinking wine, but it still ranks behind beer and/or vodka in popularity. According to Institutions magazine, trade journal for the restaurant industry, the most popular drinks for lunch all across the country are beer or vodka. And guess what, the most popular beverages for dinner are still beer and/or vodka.

According to the magazine, wine still accounts for only l0 to 20 percent of alcoholic beverage sales.